95% of tourists don’t return and I am one of them.
Is that statistic accurate? I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t care. I spent a good few minutes trying to find the actual up to date number and found different reports ranging from abysmal to slightly less abysmal. You get the drift, most people don’t return.
Tomorrow I will be crossing the border into Cambodia and am currently trying to decide whether or not to pay the 5$ bribe I’m supposed to give to the driver to ensure the bus won’t leave without me – or my luggage – when crossing.
Yes, you read that correctly. I’m currently swayed towards paying the bribe because I’ve just read a few reviews stating that even if you refuse to pay your driver and handle the visa yourself, the immigration officers will give you hell instead. Reports of officials holding foreigners for up to four hours whilst busses drive off with their luggage are boldly imprinted in my brain.
This is just another fucking thing in a long list of shit things that have happened to me – to us – here in Vietnam.
I wanted to like this country, I really did. It was after all the country that Dane and I had chosen to live in for up to a year while we worked as English teachers. And we were off to a good start when our hostel host was super friendly and even offered us a job! I mean, the taxi driver at the bus stop quoted us 100000 dong, twice the price the metered taxi turned out to be and we didn’t even let this ruin our spirit!
But things turned sour pretty quickly. Our first encounter with being overcharged was on an official government run bus. As always, I read up on the area and the scams before we set off for a week to Hoi An where we wanted to get tailored suits made. Wikitravel quoted the price to be around 20 to 25000 dong, whilst warning foreigners that you’ll be asked to pay 50k. If not, they’ll threaten to throw you off the bus. And they did, and we refused and eventually agreed to pay 25k.
Guess what the actual price is? 16k. So we gave the exact change on our way back and boy, did the driver kick up a fuss (as much as Vietnamese kick up a fuss; they generally display nothing else but resentment or indifference.) Again they threatened to kick us off only to drive off 15 minutes later without saying anything else.
I can tell you about fifty more stories along these lines and by God, I’m considering writing it all down just for the sake of drilling it into your head how much the citizens of this country will fuck with you.
Dane was initially putting up a good fight for the Vietnamese, claiming that these things happen all over Asia and India. Granted, I didn’t stay very long in Thailand or Laos but I couldn’t help but disagree. There was something about this country and the way they treated people that really got under my skin. And it took a while for me to really, truly grasp what it was.
How I feel towards the Vietnamese is my own opinion, but it is shared by many people. The following is a list of my personal reasons of why I dislike Vietnam.
- Everyone and their grandmother will rip you off, doesn’t matter if it’s the hostel owner, a street vendor or an official government person
- Everything is more money for you, even water or a toilet visit
- Did I mention immigration will refuse to serve you if you don’t give them a bribe? Or detain you for hours?
- Being overcharged is common all over Asia but there’s a difference between asking a dollar more and unabashedly charge octuple the price
- They will laugh in your face and joke about ripping you off to the Vietnamese around them (I wish I was joking but I’m not)
- They would rather not have your money at all than accept the correct amount for whatever you’re buying
- Attempts to speak Vietnamese isn’t appreciated but they won’t speak English to you
My main complaint is how I was treated in Vietnam, like a walking ATM. Walking away here doesn’t work, they don’t want your money unless they’re ripping you off.
They think Westerners are literal millionaires and feel they have every right to squeeze as much money out of as possible and won’t feel guilty for doing so. Even if you give a tip, it will never be enough. Why not give a 100$ dollars madam, you are rich, no??
If you haggle, which is the way of life here, they won’t be friendly afterwards (like in India.) They will treat you like dirt, greedy greedy dirt.
Spend money or fuck off. No, spend more money and some more and then fuck off.
I felt unwelcome, disrespected, ignored, mistreated.
I don’t get people who blog about how backpackers need to chill out about overcharging. They have less money than us, they have a lot harder lives than us, what’s 5 dollars for you?
Excuse you, I had to work hard for that money. I worked six days a week for years. I worked jobs I hated, I cleaned toilets and puke and worked for fucking sexist assholes who literally told me to lose weight and put make up on. I worked as a postie in the winter and cried my eyes out in the car because my hands were so frozen that when they eventually defrosted, it felt like they were being sliced, cut up, butchered.
Being overcharged on a bus is the same as a housekeeper taking some dollars out of your wallet while cleaning your room. It is stealing.
Not giving me the correct change, which happened everywhere, even at gas stations EVERY SINGLE TIME, is stealing.
Government officials charging you extra for passport stamps and incorrectly filling out your visa/entry stamps is ILLEGAL.
The whole debacle that I’m currently in trying to decide to pay a BRIBE makes me beyond furious. This country is beautiful but Jesus Christ, I don’t understand people who support of this blatant illegal activity.
Vietnam is not a poor country. The person ripping you off is not living on the street, unable to even afford one meal. If you’ve been to Vietnam .. Look, I’m not saying there aren’t poor people in Vietnam. They’re just not the ones that are rudely and greedily asking you quadruple the price of something.
Did this mean we didn’t encounter a single nice person in Vietnam? Of course, we did. But every step forward to loving this country was countered by meeting five assholes. Aside from being ripped off at every turn, the service at restaurants/bars was incredibly bad. Vietnamese would literally ignore us.
All of this was nicely topped off by a shit treatment to me personally by Vietnamese schools. Dane and I applied for the same schools together, some by email, some in person.
Dane, while wonderfully artistic, funny, philosophically brilliant and oh, the love of my life, is not really your typical teacher material. He’s been scaffolding for the last, I don’t know exactly, but let’s say ten years. The only experience in teaching he has comes from giving guitar lessons.
Then there’s me. I didn’t finish college but I did go to college to become .. DUN DUN DUN .. a teacher! I have prepared and made lesson plans and taught children between the ages of six and twelve. Aside from that, I worked my way up to being a supervisor/manager. Wow, look a that resume. Even if I say so myself!
Dane literally just received another phone call from a school in Da Nang, one of maybe five. Plus another few emails from other schools still sit in his inbox.
Guess how many I got? I got a response for an interview, the exact same response given to Dane. We showed up at the interview at the same time which shocked the woman .. didn’t even bother putting us in different time slots. We did the interview together and were both offered a demo lesson.
That’s it. That’s all I got. P.s. my last name is Spanish ¯\_(ツ)_/ ¯ HAHA THANKS GUYS!
I’m just gonna finish it here. I mean, I loved the scenery. Phong Nha was super impressive. Cat Ba Island was amazing. I could probably write a whole blog post just about how lovely the scenery here is, but instead, the first blog post I’ve written in six whole months is this one. So yeah.
P.s. Vietnamese food is really fucking bland. I don’t understand people’s fascination with it at all. It’s really nothing special.
I wanted to include a list of other blog posts I’ve found on the topics I’ve discussed but I’m just done, man. I’m gonna pay the five bucks and get the fuck outta here. Google “tourists don’t come back to Vietnam, Vietnam overcharging, why I’ll never go back to Vietnam, etc” and you will find a long list of people who hated this fucking country as much as I do.