Yesterday, I got a letter, from my friend, fighting in Vietnam...
After several weeks in Vietnam we have come to accept a few unavoidable realizations of traveling here.
1) NOTHING happens on time, nor goes as planned or as described in the brochure, by the person that sold you the whatever, or as written in your tour guide. (Case in point, I am sitting at the computer right now due to our flight to Hanoi being delayed 3 hours)
Another example that happened the other day goes like this:
AMBER: Can I get this one photo printed off of my memory card?
PHOTO BOOTH GUY: Yes.
AMBER: How long will it take because I am catching a plane in a couple hours?
PHOTO BOOTH GUY: One hour.
AMBER: Because if I can't get it in one hour, than I'm not going to bother.
PHOTO BOOTH GUY: Yes, no problem. Come back at 2:30 (pointing at the hands on his clock)
Fast-forward to 2:30 -
PHOTO BOOTH GUY: (smiles)
AMBER: It's not ready?
PHOTO BOOTH GUY: Come back at 8 o'clock this evening.
AMBER: I will be in Hanoi (600 km away) at 8 o'clock this evening...
2) Everything is negotiable. Try this next time you go to Publix. Pick out a bottle of water and take it to the cashier and when she "says that will be $1", say no, no, how about .50 cents. In Vietnam every price is inflated (especially if you are a westerner) and by low-balling the sales person, the price can be brought a bit closer to what the locals pay (but still more).
3) There are NO RULES, consideration, or morals for walking, driving, or any other means of transportation. "He who hesitates is lost", that's the golden rule here. Never let anyone ahead of you or you will be left letting the whole country ahead of you through the door/aisle/whatever for hours. It is unbelievable how many times we have been shoved by someone passing us while we were slowing to let someone else ahead of us. Similarly, when crossing the street, do not wait for the light to turn (if there is a light), just go at a slow but steady pace and let the traffic zigzag around you. If driving, never let off the horn, do not signal, and don't bother with lights at night. JUST GO!
4) EVERYONE has something to sell, somewhere to take you, or a special deal for you. It amazes me that we can say "no thank you" to 7 motodrivers in a row, that ask us if we want a ride and the 8th motodriver 3 feet away from the 7th asks us again if we want a ride. A recent example of this selling drive was minutes ago when I walked outside and found it raining a bit. As I am putting on my rain jacket, two separate women, seconds apart, asked me, "You want rain jacket"? I point to the jacket that I am putting on and say "No, thank you", once to each of them. We are walking dollar signs.
Ok, enough ranting a raving, it never gets me upset, it just amazes me.
Plus, it is real hard to get upset at anyone that asks you if you want to buy a banana (when you are eating a banana and carrying 20 more) because they all ask it with a huge smile and when you say "no thank you", they smile back and say, "maybe later". Yes, maybe later I will want another banana...
By the way, we love ALL the comments, keep ‘em coming and don't change a thing!