Oh those scamming Vietnamese !

Trip Start Oct 24, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
duc tuan Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, November 12, 2011

Well by Train - Bus - Boat & finally Bus I have made it to Cat Ba island which is my intended base to visit the famous Ha Long Bay, as well as explore this beautiful island just off the coast of Hai Phong.

Now I have read alot about the various travel scams associated with Vietnam,so you cant say I wasn't pre warned but over the last couple of days have succumbed twice in afraid.

Yesterday I had a relaxing day mopping up the sights of Hanoi that I had missed including a trip to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum building, risking my life on the streets again at the mercy of the traffic.

Btw the building is prob one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen, quite a sombre uninteresting slab of concrete and I have read that the former leader's body lies embalmed inside, I took their word for that !

I also found out that in fact HCM dying wish was to have his ashes scattered over Vietnam and that after he died the scamming little Viet's changed his final testament to have him tombed in this bunker.

Which leads me on the the scams I have had to dodge and have fallen prey to. Now the staff in my hotel in Hanoi were great but they were sooo hard sell for all the tours they wanted me to go on and all the time they were asking me where I was going and what I was doing tomorrow. I knew all the tours were way more expensive than I could book my self so I side stepped those.

I had heard about the taxi scams and I have now been done twice, time after visiting HCM bunker I got in a taxi to get to the station and before I knew it his meter was whizzing round so quick, in a country where 1 = 34,000 Dong it's difficult at the best of times, but when the meter got to 150,000 and we had just got up the road, this was my cue to get out, well I couldnt get out, driver had locked the door and was shouting that if i didnt pay he would take me to the police, I quickly knew who would be the winner then so we agreed on 100,000 and I got out.

Second scam was how to get from Hai Phong across by boat to Cat Ba, I had done extensive research the night before and I had heard people being charged double by un official operators. Had a nice relaxing 2.5 hr train journey to Hai Phong, but when I got to the port all my fears were realised, there was no way of finding the official boats direct to Cat Ba town and there seamed to be a Mafia group of small women who controlled things here. So parted with my double the price ticket and hoped for a direct boat trip, no the case. Around 20 of us were hustled into a small rickety bus taken all the way across town to the container port where we were then put on a fast boat, docked on Cat Ba some 10 miles from the town and then another bumpy bus into town.

At least the last bus trip gave me a great view of the stunning island and the hotel which I had booked is again of a great standard for the money.

My original plan was to only be here 2 nights but have decided to call this base for a few more nights and miss out the town of Hue down the coast. So i'll be here for 4 nights then get a flight direct from Hai Phong to Da Nang  and Ho Ann where I will also spend 4 nights.

Have booked a boat tour to explore Ha Long Bay tomorrow just up the coat, somewhere I have always wanted to see so looking forward to that. This area is stunning and very laid back, a far cry to manic Hanoi, I'm just hopping I dont run into any more scammers !
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