TRAVELERS beware. If you are going to tour Vietnam by yourself you should be aware of risks before embarking on an adventure.
Actually, there is risk everywhere when traveling to any country, Thailand included, but it is good to know what kind of risks or what level of risks you are facing when traveling alone in a country.
This time around Vietnam is picked because of the story of a Thai, whose life had been at risk, went viral online a while ago when he posted his story on Pantip website.
This person is a company employee in Bangkok who used to travel with friends but this time around he just wanted to have an adventure alone by taking leave to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The first day he walked around from his hotel to see places suggested by the hotel staff who said those places are within walking distance. After walking for a while a tricycle approached him talking him into using his service, showing him a notebook hand written in Thai complimenting him on how good his service is.
He then agreed to use his service to take him around to seven places at the agreed price of 15,000 dong per destination meaning he would have to pay 105,000 dong in total (US$1= VND22,700).
After four hours he said he would like to go back to the hotel. The tricycle owner said he had to pay two million dong. The Thai traveler got upset and said he had only one million and if he did not agree he would call the police.
He got back to the hotel and later in the afternoon decided to go out on foot for dinner in the Ben Thanh market area. After doing some shopping, there was a bicycle riding beside him trying to convince him to take a foot massage, a thing which he liked.
He asked the guy where and the guy said it’s not so far from the market.
He followed the guy to the massage shop with the price agreed at 100,000 dong per hour. He saw the shop had quite a number of clients. To take a massage, he had to change pants. He put his wallet and mobile phone into his backpack.
After massaging and talking things with masseuse for a while, the masseuse made a brief phone call and five minutes later a big guy came and confiscated his backpack scolding “money, money” and at first he thought it’s about the massage service charge. So he asked what’s this about. Then he got hit in the face by the guy and a slap in the face by the masseuse who then emptied his wallet taking 2,000 baht, two million dong and 50 US dollars.
The guy said he wanted more throwing back his wallet but kept his mobile phone, saying if he wanted his mobile phone back, just pay for it. That was around 9 pm and after two hours of tussle he told the guy he had money in the bank account and 200 dollar cash at the hotel. Two of them accompanied him to an ATM near the hotel to withdraw 20,000 baht cash with a knife sticking at his back.
They said they wanted more so he told them he had to pick up the money from his room. They agreed but threatened if he failed they would tell his big boss to get him from the hotel.
He then ran for his life into the hotel asking to meet GM of the hotel. He shockingly told his story to the GM, who told him to calm down as the hotel could not do anything saying: “Sorry Sir, I can’t help you.” The GM also asked him not to call the Thai Embassy or anybody, without asking him if he had any money to go to the airport.
He spent a sleepless night worrying if they would come back to get him. In the morning he managed to go to the airport with the 1500 baht money he deposited with the hotel.
Many who traveled to Vietnam commented in the post that they also had bad experience with taxis over there. One of them who recently went to Hoi An with his daughter and wife checked with a travel agency for a taxi service to the airport for 350,000 dong. But after leaving the hotel for a while, the taxi stopped asking them to join a van which was parked on the roadside with a few westerners standing besides it, apparently facing the same fate.
He refused to get off yelling at the taxi driver, who eventually decided to drive them to the airport. He admitted praying along the way for he did not know whether the destination would be the airport or not.
Some however commented that they did not have such bad experiences traveling in Vietnam as they did their homework well, knowing what to do and what not.
Top: Cyclos, or cycle rickshaws, for hire, Hue, Vietnam. Photo: David McKelvey (CC-BY-2.0)
Inset: A riverine view of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Aleksandr Zykov (CC-BY-SA-2.0)
By Kowit Sanandang