I am not an ATM


Weaving a Reed Mat
Originally uploaded by inqurious
No, I do not want to take a motobike taxi. Yes I heard you the first 6 times. Please stop shouting across the street at me. I do not want to ride your motobike.

I am not an ATM. I can't go more than 5-10 minutes without being asked by some lazy man with a scooter if I want to be ripped off to be driven about 1 kilometer. This is probably the most pervasive and frequent of the many myriad ways that make me feel like far too many Vietnamese are only out to rip me off.

In Hanoi, there were lazy men pushing motobike rides every few hundred feet.

In Sa Pa the English was limited to "Hello" and "You buy from me?"

In Hue we were litterally accosted by 5-6 teenage boys pushing their hotel. Erin and I spent 10 minutes getting rid of them at the train station. We then went to the backpacker's hotel district and found the same damn group of teegagers. They said "Remember me from station? Try my hotel! Try my hotel!". Erin and I gave up trying to get them to leave us the f*** alone after another 10 minutes and refused to look at any of their hotels. We found a very nice one for $10 a few blocks away without being accosted once. I can't possibly fathom how those pests are good for business.

In Hoi An, which is known for it's silk tailoring, I was initially dissappointed because all the shops displayed just suits for men, but various different styles of asian dresses and tops for women. I didn't want a suit -- I already got a really, really nice one on this trip. I finally found the one store that had some asian-style tops for men (practically the only one), and they wouldn't budge below $60 for 3 shirts (one silk, two cotton). In contrast, Erin picked up 2 knee-length silk dresses for $32. I paid it, though, since a nice tailored shirt for $20 is still cheap for America, but I was still being ripped off.

Erin and I spent today going on a 10-hour bycicle tour of the river-delta islands and tiny, rural vietnamese towns led by an expat Yorkshireman. He knew quite a few of the locals (he's even married in to one of the families) and we stopped at a few of the houses and shared things with some of the families. At one of the villages that makes reed mats we stopped by a house that was busy making one of the colorful things. Our guide, Steve, said that he slipped them around 5,000 Vietnamese Dong (about $0.34) each time to make it easy for them, but they were all obviously having a wonderful time.

As we got up to leave, the man of the house ran over to me, stuck his hand in my face, and said "money? money? money? money?". Soured the whole damn experience for me.

These people would get oodles of more business from me if they'd treat me with respect instead of a stupid foreigner and let me decide what I'm interested in instead of forcing it in my face.

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