In case you can’t read my handwriting I’ve re-written my journal entries below. I have a hard time reading them too and it’s my writing…
The stories & explanations
“I only have a credit card” makes the Vietnamese go away real fast haha”
In Saigon, Vietnam, where I was staying it’s really common for locals to approach you on a motorbike and offer services. “Where you go?” “Can I help you?” “Moto-bike?” “Marijuana?” “You want lady?”
They don’t all offer the same services and the services offered depend on where I was hanging out and the time of day. Most of them want to take you to a local tourist attraction where they receive a commission for bringing tourists. A lot of them would just offer me an expensive motorbike ride that I could get on Uber or Grab for a fraction of the price.
If I’m on Bui Vien, a popular backpacker street, I would casually be offered “lady massage”, “cocaine”, or “marijuana.”
I came up with a crafty response that basically had 100% success rate. “Sorry, I only have a credit card.” They would usually not bother me after that. If I didn’t have have cash, I was wasting their time. Occasionally they would say something along the lines of “I take you to ATM.”
The locals offering some type of services were never rude to me or aggressive, they mostly just wanted to sell me something because I’m a tourist.
“Today I went down another alley that I clearly don’t belong in. I get the weirdest and sometimes uncomfortable looks. I ended up buying a Banh mi from some older women who said I was handsome.”
While walking back to my apartment from a coworking space on my 11th day in Ho Chi Minh City, I noticed a very busy alley that had some people barbecuing food and other people selling things out of their homes. I was intrigued by this ally so I decided to start walking down it. The deeper I got into this seemingly endless alley the more out of place I felt. This particular side of the city was very local and being new to Vietnam I wasn’t sure exactly how safe I was or how the Vietnamese felt about a 20 year old American wandering through their local alley.
I got a couple of weird looks before I saw a friendly face. It was a lady and her daughter sitting on the street with three big bowls in front of them. The lady said to me “you very handsome! handsome! yes!” I never knew if these compliments were genuine or if they were just saying it because they knew so few English words. I decided to buy a Banh mi sandwich from her then exit the alley.
I had a lot of questionable meals in Saigon but this was probably the least sanitary Banh mi I ever had. The lady and her daughter literally scooped random ingredients out of bowls with their bare hands then put them in a roll and handed it to me. I said, “cảm ơn” (thank you) then quickly escaped the alley.