I have a short, and funny, story I want to share with you. As I’m currently sitting on a bus on my way to Dublin for the Irish Blog Awards (fingers crossed!!) I started thinking back to my adventures last summer and a funny memory came to mind about trying to get robbed in Vietnam!
In many countries all over the world there are known travel scams that most people now know about, but sadly the off naive backpacker here and there will fall for. There’s the women who gives you a rose as gift in Rome, then demands your boyfriend pays for it. The man who ties a bracelet so tightly around your wrist in Barcelona that you can’t get in off and thus must pay for it. The men selling trying to sell you carpets in Turkey or fake Chanel perfume in Egypt and lets not forget the taxi drivers in Bangkok who lie to you telling you all the main tourist sites are closed for a religious holiday that doesn’t exist!!
In Vietnam, while there are most definitely scams to be aware of, the biggest problem that tourists encounter is ‘drive by robberies’. As everyone travels by motorbike all over Vietnam, you hear horror stories of thieves speeding up in traffic, closing in on you as you sit on the back of a bike, yoink your handbag or backpack away from you (even if it causes you to fall off your bike!) and speed away.
To see we were paranoid upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city would actually be an understatement. I was travelleling with 3 friends (Shruti, Johann and Morne) and we were all beyond worried about the prospect of getting our most prized possessions stolen from us. So much so that we decided to check into a nice hotel instead of a hostel, locked out passport and credit cards in a safe and never left home with more than a few dollars. We didn’t even take our phone out with us to take photos for fear they would be stolen.All of us, except Johann!
Johann had heard about the scams and robberies long before leaving for Vietnam and thus came prepared. He had packed an old iPhone that was totally broken, keeping it in a clear waterproof bag which was a prime target. Inside this bag, he also had some fake US dollars (sort of like Monopoly money!!) which they used in the school where he taught. While we all thought his plan was pretty ingenious, albeit maybe a little cruel, I was also a little worried about the lengths people would go to to rob him.
For the few days we were in Ho Chi Minh he walked up and down the busy streets, with all his worldly possessions on show, trying desperately to get robbed. He would swing the bag around tempting people riding by on motorbikes. He would practically hang the bag outside the taxi as we drive through bust streets. And yet there was not one attempt to steal it. Not even a glance was made in his direction.
We literally did whatever we could do get that goddamn phone stolen and yet nothing seemed to work so alas poor Johann was stuck with his broken iPhone and fake $$$ while some poor locals were saved the trauma of thinking they’ve hit the jackpot when all they would have stolen is fit for the trash! I guess they’re just to clever for us and our scheming ways! :-)