One of the most notable differences between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok (I use Bangkok as a reference point because it was the only other big Asian City we had visited at this point) was the pushy nature of the street vendors. I found in Bangkok that as a customer, I could approach the seller and then the bartering would begin, but in Ho Chi Minh City the street vendors are constantly in your face and will not readily take no for an answer.
It amazes me that they are so tirelessly, incessantly trying, as if I’ll change my mind – it reminds me of when the girls were young and they would pester and pester, which always amused me that they thought, suddenly, mid-stream, I’d change my mind – er, no!
We did, however, get caught in a moment. It was on the way to the War Museum and we had asked a kindly looking security guard for directions. I don’t think he understood but before we could even determine that, a fruit seller jumped in and helped out.
He was super lovely and friendly and funny and soon he was putting his basket of “wares” on Tony’s shoulders to see if Tony could carry/hold it. Of course we all had giggles watching and complementing Tony on his strength etc.
We were about to walk off in the direction of the museum but, before you could say “Jack Robinson”, the vendor had thrust a coconut in Tony’s hand. Well that was it, once Tony’s hands held the coconut and the vendor let go, consider it sold, it was ours whether we wanted it or not!
Without skipping a beat the vendor lopped off the top, jammed a straw in it and Bob’s your uncle he had his hand out waiting for 140,000.00 VND. First of all we didn’t want the coconut and secondly the price was ridiculous. But no use, the coconut was ours. Just a little aside, I can’t stand coconut water and after that experience I can stand it even less!
Coincidentally, while this was happening to us in Ho Chi Minh City, a similar experience befell Abigayle and Maddi in Hanoi. They had been charmed and primed by an elderly lady who, when the time was right, popped macaroons into their hot little hands. Of course they hadn’t wanted them but the next thing you know they had to cough up some exorbitant amount of money. One thing we discovered in Vietnam is – there are no free samples!
The lesson of the day really is – don’t take anything without asking how much first.
caught in a moment