It would be so much easier to say it was a single isolated incident that made us decide to curb our travel in Vietnam, but a continuous string of negative interactions has led us to simply close the chapter on our time in country, albeit sooner than we had initially planned. If you are curious as to why, read on.
(and if you are thinking we sound a twee bit bratty, we get that too- first world problems for the couple traveling round the world- it’s not lost on us either…)
It’s not to suggest that our time in Vietnam was without highlights, in fact there were several. We were (positively) overwhelmed by the kinetic energy, cultural institutions, and of course, the good and cheap street eats of Hanoi
And completely awestruck by the karsts of Ha Long Bay
And Tam Coc
Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with loveliest of local hosts just outside of Phong Nha, in a village where absolutely everyone greeted us with warm genuine smiles and the excited shout of “hello” from the very young to the incredibly old. We rode bikes (and pushed said bikes) through deep mud and even looked for Santa Claus in an incredible cave (ok, we did not actually look for Santa)
And though it took some extra effort, we eventually came to understand the mystique of the Imperial City of Hue…truely impressive.
But our very best moments in Vietnam happened with friends…
And so the reason for our exit is what?
If it was just the one taxi meter that was so ridiculously rigged in Ho Chi Minh City
If it was only one guesthouse owner that did a final size up of us at check out and then decided to tack on another 20%, just because we looked like we could afford to pay it (we didn’t) (dayenu)
And if only one shop owner did the same (we did at least once) (dayenu)
If the throngs of tourists were not absolutely everywhere (dayenu)
If we had not at all hours been aggressively and continuously cat called to “buy something now” (followed by constant shoving of goods in our faces) until we were forced to be kinda jerks…(dayenu, dayenu…day-en-u)
If it was only one these things, then I might suggest that our decision to go was made in haste. But sadly, when same thing/ different place keeps happening, the shadow it casts can be very dark and very long. In other words, we both felt it was simply time for us to go.
And while we continue to possess both empathy and admiration for the sheer persistence and entrepreneurial spirit that is required to survive in Vietnam, after three weeks, we want to feel like walking ATM’s, no more.
(disclaimer-we have run across a number of people and blogs that share similar experiences to ours during their travels in Vietnam and equally others whose experiences have been quite opposite- so choose your own adventure and draw your own conclusions)