I got some books copied a few days ago. I like to get some cheap copies that I can give to my friends rather than make them pay for my stuff. And of course if they read it and like it, then they will recommend it to their friends which can only benefit me as a brand name.
Unfortunately I spent a day at a friends house which was miles away from the city centre, Before I knew it it was 6 in the evening. I excused myself saying I needed to get to the copy shop before it closed at 8. I thanked her family for her hospitality and she told me which bus I needed to get to go to the city, and from there I could get another bus to near the airport, which was where my hotel and the copy shop was.
sounds easy right? Not when you are in Vietnam. There was a serious amount of traffic and I got to the city centre for 7:15. I abandoned the bus idea and decided to pay more to make sure I got to the copy shop before it closed. I found a motorbike guy who said the price was ‘up to me’. Normally I would be very skeptical of this approach, but a friend of mine who also blogs told me a story about how he was impressed by the guys honesty and integrity when it happened to him and ended up paying him double, so I threw caution to the wind and trusted the guy.
To be fair he was bombing it through the streets. He must have sensed my urgency and was doing his best to get me there as quickly as possible. At one point the motorbike slipped and we would have crashed if it wasn’t for my reflexes, firmly placing my foot on the ground to stop the bike falling to the left.
We got there with ten minutes to spare, so I decided to reward him by paying him 100,000 dong (to put that in perspective, I’d taken a motorbike that distance before and paid half that price, and a proper taxi cost me 93,000 beforehand)
To my surprise he then started screaming at me demanding more money. I was so shocked by his attitude considering I knew I’d paid him handsomely that I swiftly turned on my heels and walked away before I got angry with the guy. He then chased me down the road demanding that I pay him more which was really irritating me, as I turned around to tell him aggressively where to go he I saw that he was holding a 10,000 dong (about 33p) note.
I’m colourblind, so even though I’m normally on the ball when it comes to numbers and money, it’s hard for me to differentiate foreign notes, especially when they have so many zeros behind them, And there are more variations of Vietnamese notes than there are of Scottish money.
I apologized profusely, putting my hand on my heart and saying I didn’t know I’d given him the wrong note. I took the note and with my steamed up glasses (it was raining, which probably contributed to the fact I’d made a mistake) I made sure that I gave him the right note this time, then I handed a 100,000 note to him, double checking that I hadn’t got it wrong again.
“NO… 300,000!!!” He barked at me, which incensed me so much I shouted “Fuck off!” in a shocked tone and walked away before I got really angry and did something stupid. He then chased me down the road again to which I was geting REALLY agitated now. He stopped me and then showed me the note I had given him; another 10,000 note…
Now I knew what was going on, but of course by now it was too late. Ironically if he didn’t have the audacity to try the trick a second time I would have been unaware I’d been scammed in the first place. Instead I would have felt bad that I’d tried to pay an honest motorbike driver with a 33 pence note. I took the note and he could see in my eyes I had clocked on to what he was doing and quickly scarpered.
On the grand scale of things I only lost the equivalent of 5 dollars, so it’s not the end of the world. But I still feel annoyed that I got duped so easily. I suppose its a gentle reminder to be more alert that not everyone is honest and I should keep my guard up more often. However this one removed incident does not change how I feel about Vietnam. I’m still enjoying the country and it’s hospittality, I just need to be more careful that’s all. Also I thought I would post this just in case any of you go to Vietnam, so you will be aware of this scam. Double check your money when you hand it over, because you never know if the person you are dealing with is dishonest or not.