Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. I really do understand now why some people are so very frustrated with Vietnam. It’s all well and good for people to try and sell me things, it’s even OK for them to try repeatedly, but some things are not OK. For instance:
1. 10 year old children selling postcards, no matter how much they may want you to buy just one more pack, under no circumstances at all, should ever tell me, “Fuck you and your grandmother!!” when I do not buy.
2. Travel agents take a commission on what they sell. This is an accepted fact. They’ve saved you the hassle of going to the train station and figuring things out on your own, it’s only fair. However, a $9 commission on a $21 ticket is a bit excessive, no matter how much they try to explain it away.
3. Tour operators whose tickets have the words “10% refund fee” printed at the bottom in 2 languages should give refunds when they are requested. They should not offer the customer 10% of the ticket price in lieu of the refund, and they certainly should not tell the customer, “NO REFUND! YOU GO NOW” when the customer attempts to point out their own published policy.
It can be a bit trying.
However, on the plus side, I will be going to Hanoi tonight on a train and not a bus. Granted, I’ve lost a bundle on the deal, but I’ll be able to sleep and walk around instead of being packed in like a sardine amongst the luggage and fellow travellers. And on top of that, I had a lovely motorbike tour of Hue and the surrounding areas today. It included a trip to the monastery where Thich Nat Hahn, one of the coolest buddhists ever, lived and taught until he left Vietnam for political reasons. If you get the time, you should read his books. Also on the list were several other pagodas from the last 400 years or so, and a gorgeous complex built for an emperor in the 1800s that they call a ‘tomb’, but which really is more of a city.
On that note, sorry to be brief, but I don’t want my train to leave without me….