The Huffington Post blogger and Vietnam
Recently a blogger named Matt posted comments on the Huffington Post urging travelers to skip Vietnam because of his being “ripped off and cheated” in 2007.
It struck me odd that it took him this many years to express such angst over alleged overpriced water, taxi ripoffs and banana inflation “inflicted” on Westerners (like him).
I have been visiting Vietnam for a decade, live most of the time here and have traveled south to north, small towns and big cities. In those ten years I have had a handful of cab drivers (during TET regretably) try to inflate the fare. I insisted on the meter, threatened to get out of the cab and all was fine. I probably pay the old woman on the bridge too much for a coconut (65 cents instead of 50) but bask in her blessings and energy at 80.
For travelers who spend a little time to learn the money, pick up a few words of Vietnamese, research market prices and bargain, Vietnam is no worse and in fact far better than most places I have been. Is there street crime? Yes, but my daughter was robbed in Barcelona and I was once mugged in New York; two cities I love. Are there rip off artists? Yes, but I was hustled for a short ride in Cambodia (adding up to about a $2 ripoff – nothing to him, daily wages to a typical Cambodia) and I love Cambodia and the con men still prey on tourists in San Francisco and New Orleans and I enjoy both.
I have found kindness throughout Vietnam; the little kids on Con Dao offering me gum or the long bus ride companion her dinner. Eager students practicing english, giving me directions or families welcoming me to their village. The occasional “entrepreneur” with the pricey ride or overpriced banana seems to be a small price to pay for the wonderful experience of being here.