Premise 1: Anthony Bourdain loves Vietnam.
Premise 2: I love Anthony Bourdain.
Conclusion: So, I too will love Vietnam yes?
Unfortunately not. For many years I couldn’t understand why it seemed as if everyone who had been to Vietnam loved it so much but I simply didn’t.
I had great Vietnamese friends at University yet did not at all see the same kindness in the local people we encountered while we were there. Recently while reading a travel blog by Nomadic Matt, I came across his post called Why I’ll Never Return to Vietnam and I thought, FINALLY, somebody understands me!
To sum things up, some reasons why I am not in a hurry to return to Vietnam are:
1- Never have I seen such caution relating to Taxis on Wikitravel:
“Be cautious of taxis from dubious companies with names that resemble the reputable companies mentioned above. Some of these include Mei Linh or Mai Lin instead of Mai Linh, and Vinamet, Vinason or Vinasum instead of Vinasun. It has been reported that such companies charge outrageous fares to unsuspecting passengers, sometimes by using meters that run faster or by manually increasing the fare when passengers are not looking. There have also been instances of taxi drivers from such companies driving off with passengers’ belongings still in the boot. ”
2- While boarding our flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, the locals would push their way to the front so they could board first. Queuing did not seem to be a concept they understood.
3 – We took a taxi from our hotel to some tourist site in Hanoi and paid X dollars. In a different taxi on the way back, the meter was reaching X dollars within a few minutes after we set off. I knew something was wrong and said so. The driver started screaming at me when I said I had no money to pay him more than a certain amount. He made us get out of the car in the middle of nowhere.
4- At Halong Bay, a fruit seller tried to sell us some fruits. I was incredibly shocked at the prices she quoted and in an attempt to bargain, told her I would buy one for X price. She screamed at me. What is with people and screaming?! Do people here not understand the concept of bargaining? Or that it is okay to not want to be ripped off?
5- While having dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in Hanoi and chatting with some Malaysian businessmen we met there, they told us it was incredibly difficult to do business there because their local employees would just decide not to turn up and quit their jobs without giving any notice. We heard the same being said by the French woman running the Riad we stayed at in Fes, Morocco. It is a wonder how any kind of business can run in these countries.
Did you have a similar experience of Vietnam? I’d love to hear your thoughts.