Scams that rip off tourists are common. Travel long enough and you’ll find yourself the intended victim of at least one of these travel scams that I fell for strictly for the purposes of research to help you out, Dear Travel Buddy, because, I mean, who needs to keep all their money anyway.
In Thailand I was taken by a tuk tuk driver. To a jewellery store. See, it’s common practice around Phuket, Thailand to hire a tuk tuk to take you to your destination, only to have the driver first stop off at a jewellery store or tailor shop so you can look around. Against your will.
Most people don’t mind this if they’ve already come to expect it. I was prepared for this to happen. The driver pulled in front of the store and motioned for me to go in. When I walked in, the salesladies greeted me and asked me if I wanted to buy some earrings. I was in the market for a necklace, so I looked around the display cases. But I didn’t see anything I wanted, so I turned and bowed a little to the ladies and walked out the door.
The tuk tuk driver and I smiled at each other and we started moving. I thought we were on our way to my hotel. But he stopped at another store. He turned to me and said “You didn’t stay long enough minutes for me to get commission.”
I didn’t know there was a 10 minute minimum.
I wasn’t in a hurry, and I actually did want a necklace. So I went into store #2 and repeated the process but at a slower pace. I still didn’t buy, but my driver seemed satisfied and took me home.
Do the Right Thing
Saigon, Vietnam is hot. With humidity that makes wiping away the sweat totally pointless. If you tried to re-enact the scene from Do the Right Thing where Mookie rubs ice cubes on Tina, you’d fail. The ice would be completely melted before you left the kitchen.
Now Vietnam has delicious street food. I stumbled on a street cart selling Bahn Mi sandwiches with a line 6 locals deep. This was the Sal’s of the East, and I was eating here no matter what. I got in line and waited for my turn for deliciousness. The lady in front of me ordered the exact sandwich I wanted. Pork paté with a fried egg on top. She handed the vendor 10,000 Vietnamese Dong (around 50 cents) and he gave her change back. I couldn’t tell if it was 1000 or 2000, but I figured with the “tourist tax” that’s illegally but commonly charged, my sandwich would be closer to 20,000 dong. I was prepared to pay that price no problem.
The sandwich man cut open my baguette, fried the pork and an egg, and piled the vegetables onto my sandwich. He wrapped it in paper and sealed it in a plastic bag. Then as I took the sandwich from him, he sad “Ninety.”
I don’t speak Vietnamese. I at first assumed he had made a mistake with his English. I said “Do you mean nine?” as I handed him a 20,000 dong bill. He said “No, ninety.”