Are the Vietnamese nice?

30 Nov

In short, and so far, yes!

I’ve been in Vietnam for about 5 days so far and have spent those days in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, as it is now called.  I’ve been worried about coming to Vietnam for a while.  Most travellers I meet told me it was a bit of a nightmare.  They regaled me with tales of bargaining for a bottle of water, fighting to get local prices and the general “meanness” of the Vietnamese.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky.  Maybe it’s because I’m with a mate and things like bargaining are always easier when you’re two but so far so good..a few examples…

When I first got off the bus..with my bags…a prime opportunity for advantage to be taken of me…I was given helpful and accurate directions from a local hotel owner to the hotel my friend had booked. No tricky business. No telling me it was miles away and I’d need a taxi.  The staff in the hotel were friendly to the point of almost doing gymastics to please us.

Day two in Vietnam brought more kindness…some local students walked us around a kilometre to find us cheap street food, told us the price, made sure it was what we wanted and then came back 5 minutes later to give us some local fruits (tiny apples served with chilli, salt and sugar).

Day three we visited the Cao Dai Temple and Chu Chu tunnels. The Cao Dai’ists (their religion is a combination of buddhism, confucuanism, taoism, native vietnamese spiritualism, christianity and islam) welcomed us into their temple and allowed us to sit through the service and take photos. They didn’t even ask us for a donation.

Day four I did my Christmas shopping at the local market.  Now shopping can be anything from fun to hell in my experience abroad.The hardest thing can be trying to work out what you should pay for something…ie not be taken advantage of but not so low that you are taking the mick…but in Vietnam, and again I stress, so far, this was easy…you ask the price, go to 50% and eventually you’ll get it for around 55 to 60% of the original price. No messing around. You know the final price and that’s it.

I then made some Christmas cards and asked the hotel owner whether he could possibly write “Happy Christmas” in Vietnamese on them. He did this with pleasure and was beaming from ear to ear throughout calling over his friend to see the cards I had made. Would this happen back home I wondered? I asked him also for some newspapers to wrap gifts in…two minutes later he produced this…again would this happen at home? A trip to the post office was again heaven.  They wrapped my parcel (free of charge), taped it all up, there was no queue and they charged me the correct price.  Seemed too good to be true!

It is fair to say that there is always someone selling something in Vietnam.

From the fake booksellers who carry upwards of 30 books in their arms and ply their trade around the bars, to the sellers of fans, cigarettes, watches, bouncy name it they sell it. If you say “no” it does usually work. A bit of humour can get a smile in my limited experience…to cigarettes “don’t want to die”, to books “have read them all” or “what’s your favourite”, to sunglasses…just put mine on, smile broadly and say “one pair’s enough”.

To moto drivers “ok, have moto already, you want lift with me?”, to any drivers trying to charge ridiculous price “no thanks not want buy moto just want lift”.  This last one can usually get a smile and again I say so far in Vietnam the people have enjoyed smiling.

I did get overcharged for a cocunut. It was my first day and I was still grappling with the currency. He was outside the Ho Chi Minh Musuem and position was all important.  But he did it with a smile and I now know the “local price” so won’t make that mistake again!

So, in short, so far, the Vietnamese are nice and let’s hope it continues.


7 Responses to “Are the Vietnamese nice?”

  1. Joseph A Ferris III November 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    I love the Vietnamese!

    • angiemain December 1, 2011 at 4:31 am #

      Hello me too! I was so worried about coming to Vietnam and now I love it and the people. They always smile and laugh! they’ve got me! ange

  2. theredsheep November 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    There’s a gesture for “I don’t want any” that works for when you don’t want to buy something from a particular vendor (not the right item, too expensive, whatever), or the lottery ticket ladies are pestering you– you just hold up a flat hand and tilt it back and forth a little. If you watch you’ll see other people doing it.

    Vietnam is hands-down the most fun I’ve ever had travelling. I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I met there– fantastic place, wonderful people. I am always mystified by the complainers.

    • angiemain December 1, 2011 at 4:37 am #

      I must try that gesture. Thanks so much! I had actually reached the point where I was thinking “should I go to Vietnam” because I’d heard so many adverse tales of what the people were like. I am hoping that the rest of my experience here will be the same but so far so good!

  3. 1cruzdelsur December 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Incredible, I was thinking that your you were in escocia, now I look that these you are in Vietnam, a lot of luck…

    • angiemain December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

      Si yo estoy viajando por Asia ahora! Me gusta mucha pero america sur esta en mi corazon!

      • 1cruzdelsur December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

        Gracias Angie por responder en español¡ Te seguiré en tu viaje por Asia, de nuevo mucha suerte para ti, desde aquí Argentina un saludo…

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