You meet the nicest people

Trip Start Feb 10, 2014
Trip End Mar 08, 2014

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Flag of Vietnam  , Đà Nẵng,
Saturday, February 15, 2014

15th Feb 2014

You really meet the nicest people here.

Saigon has been great. To westerners who have never been in South East Asia it must be puzzling when you compare the way we do and treat travelers and the way they do that here. An example from last year which I recorded on my blog.

Scenario One

I stopped in a small village somewhere in Central Vietnam; it was a very hot day and I had been riding in my T-shirt. After parking the bike in front of one of the many tiny drink stands I pulled a bottle out of the fridge but the bottle was hot as the fridge was not operating. The old lady who ran the place offered square ice blocks which she obviously made herself from tap water. With sign language  I explained I wanted the more sterile round manufactured blocks which she did not have. I walked a few meters down the road and bought a cold bottle which I took back to where my bike was parked at the old lady's place.

After I sat down, instead of saying, "why don’t you drink it where you bought it !" she pulled up a chair for me, than gave me a clean glass, Sweat was running off my face. The old lady got up and got a pedestal fan  for me. She sat down again and looked at my arms. She got a hose out to cool down my arms. Meanwhile she noticed that my arms had attracted some dust and dirt on it so she got some soap and washed my arms for me.  Why she do that? I think it made her feel good to do something for someone else or, it was a way to say Welcome to my country. I don’t know but I was perplexed.

Scenario two ( two days ago)

My good friend Jerome Boisard from France always says when it comes to planning “oh… see what goes” or “see what (h)appens”, it is better not plan too much but just let things develop. A few days ago that went something like this. About 2 km from where I was staying there is an enormous covered market. My plan for the day was to go there and check it out to “see what goes” . Close to the market I passed a shop selling sandals where it was a bit of a squeeze getting through. An man my age was looking at some merchandise and in passing asked where I got my sandals from- etc . We had a 20  minutes chat. He came from the Gold Coast and was in a similar situation as I. He came from an engineering back ground and had just retired and was now “having a look at the world”. 

He advised me that in the street near my hotel was a stall where “you get the best ever fruit juice smoothies you have ever tasted” . So better check it out. When I got there early afternoon I ordered a mango smoothie and sat down on a chair in the narrow side ally. Lots of people walked by. A girl arrived and parked her scooter a few meters away and ordered a smoothie from the same stall. A minute later she sat next to me and after some silence asked where I was from (standard issue in this country) She was wearing a uniform so I asked what the uniform was all about. In absolutely perfect English she told me that she worked for a Vespa scooter tour company as sales manager. I had seen that place earlier on. With all the Vespa’s parked outside Her job was to go to hotels and hostels and talk to the management to entice them to sell Vespa tours for which they would get a commission. Seeing I have been in sales and marketing most of my life we had a number of things e could exchange ideas  about.  After 15 minutes she needed to get back to her job but also wanted to keep taking me so offered to meet me later at 7.45 pm .she added that she would take me to an authentic Vietnamese restaurant where I could choose some things I had never eaten before. As I stayed just around the corner she would meet me there outside the front of the building.  After she left I thought: What do we have here? Am I being set up for a scam? A robbery/ extortion or is this another one of those things that just happens.  At 7.45 pm  she was there and we walked a few blocks to the restaurant she had in mind. On the menu was indeed something I had not seen or had before; a type of giant double pancake filled with vegetables. A bowl of raw green leafy vegetables including lettuce in which you wrap some of the pancake and dip the lot into fish sauce before eating; absolutely delicious. Another side dish and some drinks.

Meanwhile we covered a lot of subjects, sales and marketing for one, travel, family, the Vietnam war, politics, tourism, motorcycles  etc. When it was time to leave I wanted to pay but she insisted on paying the bill. Her name was Phuong and in her mid to late 20’s. Had been to university and was very “with it”. When I got back to front of my hotel she collected her scooter from the security guard while I thanked her for the nice evening and conversation and off she went after  saying “Welcome to Vietnam. “

Explain this to someone in the west and immediately people would have an opinion about this. Well this is my fourth trip to Vietnam during the last six years. If you have a chance go here and check it out. You don’t have to leave it for the cost of a good holiday as long as you don’t book an organized trip from a European or Australian travel agency. The flight is the main expense but staying and living her cost relatively little compared to home or popular places like Spain and Turkey. Just do it and you will your opportunity to really meet the nicest people.
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Ted Wesselius on

As you know we have our own reasons to travel to Vietnam the more often the better..... The only problem we as Europeans experience, is that different from the Aussies we do not yet have intercontinental budget airliners in EU. Your sales talents -Richard - should reach to expand the Fly Scoot network to a few European destinations. Please do so. Rather than reading your "Vietnam appetizers" we prefer to become among your first new customers :-)
Good luck.

Rob on

Hey there, well Ted, that has been already contemplated by airlines such as Lion Air (Indonesia), Tiger and Virgin. The thing is that both the EU and US uphold certain restrictions (cabotage) for carriers outside the EU/US in order to protect their marketshare....

Richard, I so much agree and recognize on everything you wrote, and with reading your posts am seriously considering Vietnam as my/our next destination!

Eddie on

Yes, Richard is richt again as often, so feel welcome at Luckydaisy's Buffalo House and Bamboo bar far away in the mountains outside Sapa. We Will see Richard here in few days! Yeehaa

Mitchell on

Ok Rich and Rob, Count me in as well for a visit to Vietnam ! But first the Philipines this year !

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