"How long, how long, in definite Pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
Than sadder after none, or bitter, Fruit."
Last year, I spoke with two of my boyfriend's friends, who had decided to put their lives and jobs on hold to travel the world for over a year. Both are French, mid-twenties, and they spent the majority of their journey touring South America and Southeast Asia. Of the Asian countries, they confirmed that Vietnam was the worst.
Even though the country is beautiful, and things are dirt-cheap, it was the unscrupulous attitudes of the people that put them off. In every other Southeast Asian country, they praised the friendliness, hospitality, and warmth of all they encountered. But in Vietnam, everyone seemed to want to cheat them out of more money. Hotel itineraries suddenly went missing, and would magically reappear when the right amount of cash was displayed. Street vendors would ruthlessly nickel-and-dime the pair of confused tourists.
When I heard this, I was disappointed, and a bit defensive. I'm Vietnamese, after all, and I've been desperately wanting to go back. All of my friends who have visited rave about the place and say it's so much fun. Then again, they're all Vietnamese. So when I found out Tomo was going, I saw a chance to obtain redemption. It'd be perfect! She's not Vietnamese, so she'd be able to tell things from an impartial viewpoint, and she's a total travel-whore, so she'd know it works in Southeastern Asian countries.
Before she left, I told her what Bernard's friends had said about Vietnam, and asked her to call me with a full report as soon as she got back. Well, we just got off the phone. And the first thing she said was, "My GOD, Vietnamese people are all so greedy! I had no idea there were people like that! I couldnt believe it! I went to Cambodia and it was amazing! I want to go back! But I never want to return to Vietnam again! Not even with you!"
Apparently, on her first day there, a cyclist took her around, after agreeing on the price of 20,000 dong (chillax, that's about $1.50, probably less). She swore to me that she clarified the price. Then, after he takes there and back, he suddenly claims that his price is 200,000 dong--each way! So, being as it was her first day and she was kind of vulnerable, she bitterly paid the 400,000 dong. Eventually, she had to resort to never smiling and telling people that she was half Chinese and half Vietnamese (because being Japanese means you have bling bling).
Man. I'm really bummed about this. I hate that my country is making such a bad impression on tourists around the world! I still want to go back, but now I'm worried that my boyfriend will hate it. My mother even said to me, "Oh, I'll tell you all the places to go; you can find really good deals...then again, if they see you with Whitey, they'll try to rip you off." My mom said this! I guess if things are that bad, we can always just take off to Thailand. But that'll depress me even more if Thai people treat me better than the people of my own heritage!