Touring VietNam

Landing in Ho Chi Minh City, the view from the plane windows reveals nothing of the charm and intrigue that permeates every block of this amazing city. Once allegedly ‘The Pearl of the Orient’, although it may have meant the BLACK pearl, HCMC is a place where the wonders go on even beyond the scope of the energizer bunny. It is said that you can get anything you want in Saigon, anything.
This is not exactly true. I have found that both Brussel Sprouts and Sage are not to be found here. Both WERE once available, but demand was so non-existent that they stopped carrying them. Last time I was in the USA I loaded up on Sage (one tin will last MY lifetime) but Brussel Sprouts were out of season and not available. The last time I was in the market that caters to foreign taste (blinzes, bacon, blue cheese for starters) I found a CAN of French Brussel Sprouts. I have kept it on a pedestal for quasi-gratification and plan to open it sometime next month in celebration of birthdays past and coming. I will pour salt and butter over the cooked canned brussel sprouts and savor each and every mouthful. Further reports will describe the ecstasy of the experience, the thought of which has me salivating on my keyboard as I type.
This website of mine usually carries political, boring to all but me, diatribes and has stimulated little but a pain in my hemorrhoids because I tend to carry on and on. Since a few reviews I have written for TripAdvisor generated over TEN THOUSAND reads in less than a year, I thought that writing about VietNam on my website might draw some people interested in learning about this fun country I live in at the Southeast tip of mainland SouthEast Asia.
Enough background. On to VietNam.
Let us talk about the dangers first and foremost. While there are varieties of poisonous snakes, jungle wild elephants, rhinoceros, lots of poisonous insects, dangerous wild pigs/boars, and many mosquito borne illnesses, none of them carry as much danger to the tourist and native as much as motorbike snatch n grab thieves. Any jewelry is fair game, so don’t wear necklaces. Just don’t. Cameras and purses are snatched from tourist and native with equal fervor (our Vietnamese friend just lost her purse with over $1,000 USD cash, her passport, and many important papers. She was standing on the curb at 11:00am in a busy downtown when two guys on a motorbike zipped by, ripped her purse off her shoulder, and sped away. It happens so fast that you don’t have time to think of trying to see their motorbike license plate number. We were robbed when a man and a woman drove up alongside us and grabbed my wife’s necklace, tearing it off and speeding away. A year ago we were waiting outside a busy gas station on a well-lit busy street when two guys tried to grab my wife’s purse. She would not let go and they dragged her for 20 feet on the broken concrete before finally dropping her and her purse. She was badly cut and had a lot of bruising, and almost lost her eye which was cut by her broken glasses. Tough woman, she would not let them win.
So that is the big danger here in Vietnam. Motorbike thieves are everywhere. Secure your cameras, carry nothing in your purse of value, and wear your backpacks in front. Our friend in Hanoi was surrounded and bumped by six teenage girls, and only later realized that her fanny-pack, which she wore in the front, had been slit by a razor. Fortunately only worthless papers were stolen. BE CAREFUL!
Vietnamese don’t use credit cards, checks, or any form of bank paper. Just cash. It is not uncommon to find someone walking around with ten or twenty million VND–


3 thoughts on “Touring VietNam

  1. You do not make visiting Vietnam very enticing,Bill. I suppose one should carry nothing but the house keys.

    Lots of Hugs, Stay Safe!

    Dorothy Shoichet

  2. Compared to Europe or the USA, Vietnam is safe. Guns are rare, and shootouts don’t occur. Drive-by snatch and grab occurs all over the world. I would recommend that you don’t wear the jewelry, especially the necklaces , you wear, and save the ostentatious rings and bracelets for when you get inside, or leave your jewelry at home altogether. Carry a purse with a long strap but keep valuables on your person. Hold tightly to your camera. I know a man that routinely walks around with $100,000.00 cash in an old army kit bag. He dresses poorly and rides an old motorbike. People who know him are aware that he has a chauffeured limousine and a closet full of $10,000 suits, but he prefers to go casual, and everyone respects his choice.
    Women friends of ours still wear their $100,000.00 diamond rings, but they are not often seen wearing the $150,000.00 earrings or diamond bracelets. I needed to change $2,000.00 USD into VN money, and our friend who was having coffee with us reached into her purse and made the exchange. She did not know beforehand that I wanted to change money, and the large pile of VN money she gave me did not visibly diminish her very large chunk of money. She has, as do most of KL’s wealthy friends, her own car and driver, so they aren’t waiting on cabs to come pick them up.
    You just need to be alert, careful, and not showy. Do that and you won’t have any trouble. The country is safe, the people are nice, the traffic is really the greatest danger. Even KL does not use our motorbike for anything but short trips shopping for food.

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