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Not Always Feeling the Love in Vietnam

Not Always Feeling the Love in Vietnam

BirdLady

HalongBayPano

Inhospitality and Inflation

Traveling isn’t always fun.  There are moments when I just want to scream, cry, and catch the next flight home.  I had a few of those thoughts during our time in Vietnam.  Even Bryan often felt aggravated and annoyed.

HanoiMotorbikesTo say the least, we definitely won’t be adding Vietnam to our ever-growing list of favorite countries.  This came as a shock to us.  We’d heard from other travelers how wonderful Vietnam is so we were expecting to love it.  We spent over 2 weeks there and really gave it a chance.  Unfortunately, VietnamGirla long list of negative experiences with locals just left a really bad taste in our mouth.

And speaking of taste, we also weren’t fans of Vietnamese food.  Bryan is looking even skinnier now.  The majority of their diet seemed to consist of bland soups and mystery meats.  Some people say they love Vietnamese food, but we tried a lot of things and only liked a few.  We try to eat as much street food as we can VietnamBikerso we can experience what the locals really eat, not just the tourist version of their food.  The locals in Vietnam eat a LOT of soup – many times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Many of the soups didn’t have much flavor though (so you added your own spices), and were very similar so it became quite monotonous.  Dog is also eaten in Vietnam, so I was constantly paranoid about what type of meat I ordered.  Over the last two years,RidiculousTourists I’ve become much more open-minded about what I eat.  But dog is one thing I really don’t want to try.  I won’t judge people for eating things because we all were raised with different ideas of what food should be and different cultural norms.  I personally just can’t separate dog meat from the thought of my own two dogs (whom I consider part of my family).  I’d also heard horror stories of pet dogs being stolen from people in Thailand, crammed and locked into trucks for 3 days straight, and smuggled into Vietnam to HCMCvendorsell for meat.  🙁  I will say that the common issue of stray dogs is not a problem in Vietnam!  I think I only saw a couple.

I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy here.  But hindsight being 20/20, I wish we’d spent less time in Vietnam and more time in Cambodia before we needed to catch our flight to Myanmar (Burma).  So maybe our experiences will give other travelers something to think about while planning their time in Southeast Asia.  Or will at least prepare HoiAnMarketpeople for what they might have in store so they won’t be as unpleasantly surprised as we were!

This was the first country (out of nearly 100) where we felt generally unwelcomed.  We’re not rude travelers either.  We try to be patient and don’t act like ignorant, obnoxious tourists.  So I really felt that we didn’t deserve to be treated like this.  We HappyVietnamLadynoticed the change as soon as we crossed into Vietnam from Laos.  Despite researching the correct ticket price for our bus to Hanoi, we had no choice but to accept the bogus, inflated price or be left behind.  The driver went so far as to have fake tickets to give us with a much higher price than the tickets the locals received.  We knew we were getting ripped off which is frustrating.  It was also aggravating when we asked for help from the locals on the bus and they ignored us.  I can see why locals might not want to get involved, but we’ve been to other countries such HalongFloatingHousesas India and Bolivia where people stepped in to assist us.  These people just acted like we were invisible.

This was just our first small taste of “Vietnamese hospitality” towards tourists.  Every day and almost every time we purchased something, we had to argue to get close to the real price for anything from ferry tickets to a simple bread baguette.  It was exhausting and frustrating.  It’s not about the money either.  In the grand scheme of things it’s not very much money over a few weeks.  And I CatBaFishermenknow we have much more money than most of the locals.  But it’s that we are not treated like respectable human beings.  It’s the fact that we are being blatantly lied to and regarded as stupid tourists or walking ATMs.  Twice we were in a legit grocery store, buying drinks and snacks.  The pricesCatBaFloatingHouses were actually marked on the items so we thought we were in the clear.  We went to the cash register to pay for the items, they rang up as marked and then the cashier changed the price by increasing the unit price.  Bryan was looking through the money in his pocket and didn’t notice.  I saw it and just walked out, leaving the items unpurchased on the counter.

There were some friendly locals.  The sisters that taught my Vietnamese cooking class in Hoi VietnamCoconutVendorsAn were lovely.  They were quite aware of how tourists were treated.  One of the women was telling our Canadian friend Natalie about how cheap it is to buy the spice saffron in Vietnamese markets, especially compared to the prices in North America.  VietnamTemple“But it won’t be cheap if you go to the market and buy it,” she told Natalie.  “If you walk in there with your white skin, the price will be expensive.  But it’s cheap if I buy it.”

And when we did pay the inflated prices, many times we didn’t receive the service that we were promised.  On one long distance bus, they dropped us off along a random road outside of our destination city.  VietnamKidThe bus was continuing along the road to the city but they forced us to get off beforehand.  All four of us asked if we could stay on a bit longer to actually get to where we were going.  The driver plugged his ears with his fingers, acted like he couldn’t hear my requests, and started yelling at me.  After being forced off the bus with the drivers laughing as they drove off, we continued our journey into the city center on foot with our backpacks.

I’ll stop my rant with one more story.  We purchased bus tickets for the 23 hour journey from Hoi An to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).  With our experience in VietnamGoodFoodlong-distance buses around the world, we knew to request seats towards the front of the bus (it’s less bumpy and it’s away from the stinky bathroom).  There were no assigned seats on this bus (first come, first serve) but the travel agent wrote on our tickets “front seats.”  The next day, when the bus finally arrived an hour late, all the other passengers (all tourists) were in the back of the bus.  We got on and sat in the empty front seats.  The QuailEggsVietnamdriver went ballistic.  He grabbed our daypacks out of my hands, and yelled at me to move.  I snatched my bags back and yelled “NO, NO, NO!  Don’t touch my stuff!”  We got in an all-out tug-of-war and heated English-Vietnamese argument.  Somehow we compromised on seats in the middle of the bus.  A little bit later, the bus stopped to pick up a bunch of locals and they got all the good seats – Vietnamese in the front, tourists in the back.  Then the assistant driver handed out bottled waters and wet naps to the locals, and none to the tourists, even though OysterPickersHalongI’m sure we paid much more for our tickets.  I asked the bus attendant for a wet nap and he very reluctantly handed me one.

I wasn’t sure whether to write this blog but I want travelers to know what they may encounter.  And it’s not just us and it isn’t just because we’re American.  Other travelers of different nationalities we met had similar experiences.  I’ve also read other seasoned travelers’ blogs with stories like ours.  After nearly 100 countries, this is the first place that we felt so unwelcome and mistreated.

The Highlights

With all that being said, we don’t regret visiting Vietnam.  We just regret spending so much time GroupShotVietnamthere.  There were a few things I loved about Vietnam.  We had a great time spending 10 days traveling with our new friends Natalie (from Canada) and Jake (from the UK) whom we met on the way to the Laos-Vietnam border.  It was nice to celebrate New Years in the capital city of Hanoi with them and a few other great people, especially since the “local, fresh” draught beer they sell everywhere can cost VietnamBuffaloas little as 13 cents US!  The city was even lenient that night on the midnight curfew (Vietnam is a Communist Country so rules are strict).  When the clock neared midnight, the lake in the center of town was filled with thousands of locals and tourists waiting for the fireworks.  But nothing ever happened.  Midnight came and passed but there were no fireworks.  We jokingly wished each other a “Happy Communist New Year” and returned to the little street bars for another round of super cheap beer.

Our two favorite sites in Vietnam were the caves around Dong Hoi and the floating markets in the Mekong Delta.  Vietnam is full of caves in the jagged, limestone karsts that dot the ParadiseCavelandscape.   Vietnam also boasts the largest cave in the world which just opened for tours.  But because of the technicality of exploring it, tours costs around $3,000 USD.  Obviously, we chose not to pay that much and stuck with the more accessible caves – such as Paradise Cave and Phong Nha Cave.  The most fantastic caves are filled with enormous stalactite and stalagmite formations.  We’ve seen tons of caves so I wasn’t expecting to be wowed.  But we were.  We walked around the whole time in awe.  The formations were massive and intricate.  Even more PhongNhaCaveimpressive was that the structures took millions of years to form.  It was especially peaceful and eerie to tour Phong Nha Cave by boat.

Many caves in both Laos and Vietnam were used extensively by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam-American War.  You can visit these but prepare to AgentOrangeVictimshear a lot of anti-American sentiments. Some things may be somewhat accurate but there is so much propaganda to sift through.  One “documentary” they showed on our tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels talked about how the “Americans came like crazy devils dropping bombs onHoiAnVendor women and children.”  I need to learn more about the war from a less biased standpoint!

The Mekong Delta was a positive way to end our 2.5 weeks in Vietnam.  It’s quite touristy which we usually don’t enjoy but it was still possible to focus on the MekongDeltaMarketauthenticity of the experience.  We hired a private boat driver from the Can Tho waterfront to take us at 5 a.m. to the two floating markets on the Mekong River – Can Rang and Phong Dien.  It was such a unique experience to see the locals in wooden boats completely filled with MekongDeltaMarket4produce such as onions, watermelons, and pineapples.  They rowed up to one another and started negotiating and swapping items.  There were even a few women in boats selling hot coffee and other drinks.  It was definitely a special way to get my Monday morning coffee, and it was of course a tiny fraction of the price of Starbuck’s or even 7-11.  Our sweet boat driver weaved jewelry, flowers, and crickets from palm tree leaves for us as we floated down the mighty Mekong MekongDeltaMarket3River.

We also reallyMekongRower enjoyed the beautiful scenery in Vietnam despite the foggy weather this time of year.  As I mentioned, there are limestone karsts, as well as some beautiful coastline.  There are lots of rice patties with MekongDeltaMarket2people in their traditional conical bamboo hats farming the land by hand or with the help of their water buffalo. MekongCoffee In Southeast Asia, we’ve started renting motorbikes for the day to explore the area on our own.  It was a fun and cheap way to have some freedom with our own mode of transportation.  Bryan did relatively well for a beginner motorbike driver.  Oh, except VietnamRiceFieldWorkerfor when he accidentally popped a wheelie downshifting while going up a steep hill and threw us both off.  We were okay, except for a cut on my VietnamRiceFieldWorker3leg and a sore hip.  He’ll never hear the end of that though, especially now that our parents know.  🙂

So there were some pleasant times during our roller-coaster of ups and downs in Vietnam.  If you had a great time during your travels in VietnamRiceFieldWorker2Vietnam, I’m happy that you had a positive experience.  But as for us, Vietnam was definitely not a highlight of our World Trip.  We grew tired of constantly being ripped off and feeling skeptical of people.  There are so many other places we’ve visited where we felt genuinely welcomed and respected so we’d rather spend our time and money in those countries.  If Vietnam is on yourMekongRower2 Travel Bucket List, don’t let me talk you out of it.  The place does have quite a few unique things to offer.  I just encourage you to stand up for yourself when the locals try to rip you off!

 

NOTE (from Bryan):  Obviously the photos don’t really go along with the writing in this blog.  I didn’t walk around Vietnam trying to capture all the rude encounters we had.



Comments (20)
  • Kristin W.

    March 4th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    The pics of food are probably the two best things we ate in Vietnam. Not sure what they were called but we found them both in Can Tho.

  • Kelly Waugh-Mudd

    March 4th, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    It sounds like Bryan is just as bad on two wheels as Erik. Hehehe 🙂

    • Erik Waugh-Waugh

      March 8th, 2014 at 7:58 am

      I am not amused at your statement Kelly…

  • Mama Waugh

    March 4th, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Sorry that Vietnam was not a great experience, but an experience none the less. I was intrigued with the K mart…lol

    Love ya and Miss ya!

  • Cat Haskins

    March 5th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I liked this blog, nothing wrong with being honest because that is what you felt. My dad is a Vietnam Vet. So this was really interesting to me 🙂 I am sure in the case of war, neither sides were Saints, but part of our History none the less. Kristin cracks me up- awesome!! Don’t touch my stuff- See I would be “locked up abroad” grief – good luck guys 🙂

  • Grandma Munch

    March 5th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Another interesting blog and nice pictures.Makes me mad that they treated you so poorly. Can’t wait for June to get here.Love and miss you!!

  • Mama Munch

    March 5th, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    A wheelie, Bryan? Please stick with planes, trains and automobiles 😉
    I’m glad you had some positive experiences when you were there too. The floating markets sound like fun.
    So much interesting info and wonderful pictures. You guys are the best. Love you and miss you.

  • Jim

    March 5th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    You reveal your own problem: being a backpacker. Backpackers do tend to be heavily resented in Viet Nam for a number of reasons, only a few of which you understood, and not treated well. If you work there as a foreigner, it is remarkable easy to be accepted and fit in, and scarcely ever be cheated or treated badly. And shame about the food — Viet Nam has some of the best cuisines in the world, but you tend to need to be with locals who know where and what to order. It is not one — there are many regional cuisines.

    • Bryan Waugh

      March 7th, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Thanks for your comment Jim. I can only assume that since you stated that you worked in Vietnam, that you most likely entered the country through some type of formal program. Which in turn, that organization had a network of people that introduced you to locals, helped you find housing, showed you around a bit. You were most likely escorted by an actual Vietnamese through this process (I’m familiar with how this goes from my university studies in Sweden). I don’t doubt that living and working there we’d develop a circle of Vietnamese friends. Our faces would become familiar to the locals, we would hold conversations with them, and we’d fit in. But as Kristin wrote about in her blog, it’s the first time we’ve REALLY been discriminated against solely due to our skin color and being a foreigner. We encountered this discrimination many times without revealing that we were “backpackers” (we weren’t wearing backpacks, no cameras, had non-flashy neutral colored clothes, speaking softly to one another and not indicating that we couldn’t speak Vietnamese). I understand that the tourist trail is very worn in Vietnam, and there are plenty of idiot tourists that the locals have dealt with in the past. I understand that the children in the post-Vietnam War era are brought up learning anti-American propaganda (I saw this first hand as school-kids read/studied the biased information at the War Remnants Museum in HCMC), and maybe in someway that adds a little hatred towards westerners. But that’s still no excuse for the outright discrimination towards us because we were simply non-Vietnamese.

      As for the food, I often wonder where the statement “Vietnam has one of the best cuisines in the world” keeps coming from. I found myself many times pulling up a stool with tons of locals at a street-side stall, saying that I’ll have what they’re having, and it being down-right terrible. But also as Kristin stated, we found a few dishes we really liked (Banh bao, banh xeo, Cao lau, many of the rolls, and a couple other odds and ends). Just overall, those “good dishes” were not usually eaten by the locals. They always seemed to be mystery meat soups with little taste. Anyways, I won’t go on and on here. Obviously your experience in Vietnam was better than ours, and most times it will be with the assistance of locals by your side. I’m glad you got to enjoy the friendlier side of the Vietnamese people.

      • Jim

        March 10th, 2014 at 2:46 am

        Thanks for the long reply. You make a few incorrect assumptions, but knowing a little of the language does help enormously and I understand one does not have much chance to get beyond please and thank you in two weeks. Obviously you don’t like pho, and perhaps it is an acquired taste, but the key to it is the right combinations of herbs, lime juice, and chillies added after you get it. No, I was not on ‘organized programs’ of the type you reference ever, but I did work with Vietnamese always, and having work colleagues helped enormously — one I regard as one of my best friends and we first worked together 17 years ago!

        I think you are wrong about prejudice against Americans. In my experience, most Vietnamese have very positive views of America; on my first stint there, I was on a British passport because the firm involved thought being American would be unwise (this was 1997), and on the first couple of occasions outside Hanoi I was introduced as the ‘international expert from UK.’ But it tended to come out quite quickly that I was also a professor at a US university, and my Vietnamese project manager noticed that my reception usually became much warmer once that was known. So for the rest of the long period of field work I became the American professor rather than the British expert! It’s like studying Kemal Atakurk in Turkey or pancasila in Indonesia — yes the classes are compulsory, but that doesn’t mean anyone much really absorbs what the powers that be would like them to. You have to be well into your 40s now to have much memory of the war period, although of course everybody has heard stories. More people have bad memories of the hard times in the 80s and early 90s, which were self-inflicted.

  • Brother Waugh

    March 8th, 2014 at 8:05 am

    It sounds like Vietnam needs another dose of freedom

  • Agness

    April 19th, 2014 at 12:39 am

    I’m really impressed by your story and photography skills. This post brings back amazing memories from Vietnam which I cycled around in less than 2 months.

    • Kristin W.

      April 19th, 2014 at 9:38 am

      Wow, Agness! That would be incredible to cycle through Vietnam. What an experience. I bet you have some phenomena stories, too.

      Thanks for checking out our blog and for the support! We love hearing comments from our readers. 🙂

      Safe & Happy Travels! 🙂

  • Cez

    July 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I agree with you. Mostly people in Vietnam don’t seem to like foreigners, and most often see us as walking ATMs. I have experienced similar treatment on the bus (one). However, I had also experienced amazing hospitality, for example when I was the only foreigner on buses.

    Also, we had moments when we cycled (me and Agness) and were constantly ripped off in remote areas, but I had also moments were people showed me an amazing hospitality (when I was on my own). There’s no rule in Vietnam, it’s more of luck thing.

    Vietnam left me with very mixed feelings, but I certainly would like to go back (unlike Philippines, which in my opinion is well over-rated for hospitality).

    Happy travels!

    • Kristin W.

      July 29th, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Cez! I appreciate you taking the time to comment on our blog. I know that you and Agness are busy, active travelers. Best of luck wherever you may be heading this summer!

      Safe Travels! 🙂

  • CPH

    July 26th, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I would like to start my comment by disclosing that I am a Vietnamese living in Melbourne, Australia. I came to Australia as a refugee fleeing from the iron fists of the communists. I make this disclosure to encourage all those who read my comment to let their skepticism or even cynicism run free as I could be very biased, consciously or otherwise.
    My comment will be a bit long as Bryan and Kristin raise a number of issues in their article, and the best way to make my comment informative is to quote particular extracts from the article and offer my comment in response.
    1) “Every day and almost every time we purchased something, we had to argue to get close to the real price for anything from ferry tickets to a simple bread baguette. It was exhausting and frustrating. It’s not about the money either. In the grand scheme of things it’s not very much money over a few weeks. And I know we have much more money than most of the locals. But it’s that we are not treated like respectable human beings. It’s the fact that we are being blatantly lied to and regarded as stupid tourists or walking ATMs.”
    Differential pricing means selling the same product to different people at different prices. Many tourists to Vietnam are apparently unaware that the business practice of differential pricing is widespread around the world, even in their home countries. I strongly encourage tourists to go to the nearest university library when they come home. Search for books with title such as Introduction to Marketing, go to the back of the book and search the index for differential pricing or discriminatory pricing. Then you will see just how American, Canadian, Australian, German companies deploy differential pricing to sell the same product at different prices to different people. For now, I will provide a link to a Wikipedia article on differential pricing for your perusal:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_discrimination: Go through the examples of pricing discrimination and see if you recognize any of them in your daily life in your home country.
    Below are 2 more links to dispel any misconception Western tourists might have that this differential pricing practice is only engaged in by Asians or Africans:
    http://www.expatify.com/news/expats-are-often-overcharged-by-locals-but-sometimes-its-the-other-way-around.html: This article shows that Western expats charge local Arabs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi at much higher prices than they would charge other Westerners because the Arabs are rich with oil money.

    http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/emiratis-complain-of-chronic-overcharging-in-shops: Just one of the examples of overcharging quoted in this article is:
    Mr Al Sayed said he has seen prices triple when he wears his kandura.

    “My expat friend would buy something for Dh70, but when I go to the same place they refuse to go lower than Dh250,” he said. At the current exchange rate of 1 Dirham = 0.27 USD, the 180 dirham difference in local and western expat prices translate into 48 USD in overcharging for just one item. During your entire 2.5 weeks in Vietnam, how much extra money in USD do you think you paid for the overcharging, Bryan?
    For those who read the evidence presented above, do you still think all those comments on the internet about scams and rip-offs in Vietnam are justified?
    Before leaving the subject of scams and rip-offs, here are a few links to give readers some idea how business is conducted in first-world countries:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/04/12/foods-biggest-scam-the-great-kobe-beef-lie/
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/wagyu-farmers-beef-with-fakes-20120922-26dvq.html

    2) “But it’s that we are not treated like respectable human beings. It’s the fact that we are being blatantly lied to and regarded as stupid tourists or walking ATMs.”
    Are the Vietnamese rude? Do they intentionally treat tourists with disrepect? Do they treat tourists as walking ATMs? Before we make a judgment call on a person or a group of people, we have to put ourselves in their shoes first and ask ourselves this question: If I were in their shoes, can I do any better? Can I behave any better? I will now provide a link to an article written by an American named Jack Bernard in his blog, Saigon Diary. There are two photos in this article and you can click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing.
    http://jackbernardstravels.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/how-do-we-square-differences.html
    Here is a quote from Jack’s article: “We talk a lot about income inequality in the US these days. In fact, Occupy Wall Street has spent a lot of time drawing attention to it, but when you see it in a developing country it’s obscene. The recent scandal in China is drawing attention to it as well. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” I wonder how Marx would react to the abuses of state socialism if he could see the situation in Vietnam and China today”
    Bryan, which economic and social class do you think truck and bus drivers in the US and Australia come from? The top or near the bottom? Do you think those Vietnamese long-distance bus and taxi drivers who cause you such grief and aggravation come from a socioeconomic class just above the poor fellow sleeping on the bench in the second photo of Jack’s article, or just below the socioeconomic class of the communists driving around in luxury Maybach?
    Below are 3 links to news articles in Vietnamese. Just look at the photos in these articles to see how children are exploited in Vietnam. Those aggravating Vietnamese taxi and long-distance coach drivers could very well spend their youth in the same working conditions. Having not much education because schools and university in Vietnam are not free. If they or their family get sick, they will have to pay out of their own pocket for medical care because it is not free in communist Vietnam. I provide you with a little background of the harsh reality of the hand-to-mouth existence of tens of millions of Vietnamese so that you can answer the question I posed above: If you were in their shoes, can you do any better? I understand and very much sympathize with your frustration in Vietnam. But you are taking your frustration out on the wrong target: the poor Vietnamese. You should have taken it out on the communists who enslave and exploit the ordinary Vietnamese such as your much disliked coach drivers and food vendors:
    http://nguyentandung.org/boc-lot-suc-lao-dong-tre-em-mot-hien-thuc-dau-long.html
    http://vietbao.vn/An-ninh-Phap-luat/Lan-dau-tien-xet-xu-hanh-vi-nguoc-dai-tre-em/55079750/218/
    http://vietbao.vn/An-ninh-Phap-luat/Lan-dau-tien-xet-xu-hanh-vi-nguoc-dai-tre-em/55079750/218/
    I have to stop here because I have to do some work to put food on the table and a roof over my head. Hopefully, I can come back in the next few days to respond to two other points raised by Bryan and Kristin.

    • Bryan Waugh

      July 28th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks for your lengthy comment! I will say that I’m aware of price discrimination, and I’m aware that it does exist all over the world. Vietnam is not the first place that we experienced it, but the first place that we were lied to and treated like idiots. I can also say that I can guarantee that if you walk into any Western grocery store, the clerk behind the counter will not recode your items solely based on your skin color. Anyways, I’m not going to respond with all of my thoughts, and I’m definitely not going to get into a political discussion about communism. It’s obvious that you left because of it, but can you provide any useful advice to a traveler on how to explore a communist country without supporting the communist government? (that’s a serious question). I will say that my worldly travels began 15 years ago. I’ve been to much poorer areas of the world. I’ve seen kids working in the conditions that your attached articles depict. I’ve been to areas with a much worse historical past than Vietnam. Yet Vietnam felt like the most unwelcoming place I’d ever been, and I won’t go back. There are much friendlier places to visit in my opinion, and I’ll dedicate my time to them.

    • Eimeara Volodchenko

      February 16th, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      While I am not suggesting that other countries are blameless and unpleasant things do not happen in Europe or elsewhere – it is not irrelevant. You are making excuses for these people. That is no excuse for how Bryan and Kristin were treated. I am poor myself but I do what I can to help foreigners in my village who are looking for directions or whatever. Bryan and Kristin like many others have taken time and money to go to Vietnam when they could have gone elsewhere. A bit of friendliness and respect costs nothing.

  • Eimeara Volodchenko

    February 16th, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    It’s not really Bryan’s problem /fault that someone is poor and has low wages so I think you are being manipulative here. There is a tendency in poorer countries to make Westerners guilty because natives earn lower wages. Also I have heard about the terrible way Vietnamese treat foreigners. Passports going missing, wrong one given to someone else , and on Halong the passports of 2 people were given by the hotel to a travel agent to substitute 2 people whose passports were in the Cambodian embassy. Surely that’s wrong??? Someone else retrieving passports without your knowledge? And I believe at Halong, they are returned to the Tour Guide too. Why can’t they be given back to the owner themselves??

  • Ryan Aurélie

    June 23rd, 2016 at 3:55 am

    I honestly thought I was exaggerating so I had to do a quick Google search and I am glad I found this post. I am African-American so I did not have much expectation traveling abroad considering people in my own country treats me like crap all of the time. When I arrived in Thailand, I was treated like a Princess! In Cambodia people were so fascinated by my hair and skin and a lot of the local girls kept comparing their skin to mine saying they were a lot darker than me and telling me I was beautiful. I met a White British girl along the way and we started traveling together through Cambodia and now we are in Vietnam. We are so shocked! They tried to rip us off on the bus. We booked a tour to halong Bay and they dropped us off in the middle of nowhere claiming it was an island. When we walk down the street people just point and laugh and make comments and take pictures of us. Everyone is picking their nose, their teeth, and hacking and that totally turns me off to the street food so I’ve literally been living on juice and coffee here. The love of my life is Vietnamese and I wanted so badly to love Vietnam. I had a great time in Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An and even Nha Trang but everywhere else been exhausting. My boyfriend never been to Vietnam since he was born in the states and he is so appalled and completely repulse the idea of ever coming to Vietnam. I was hoping one day we could bring our future kids to learn about our parents history (him being Vietnamese and my parents being Afro French) sadly Vietnam is off my list as I have no plan on spending my money and energy to come here.

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