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Published: June 22nd 2006
My luck was running thin in Vietnam. I'd left myself a measly 10 days to travel from Hanoi all the way down to HCMC. I spent the entire time catching buses and covering the highlights. My first hour in Vietnam was most eventful, indeed. I caught a minibus from the airport into town, arriving fashionably late at around 11.00pm with no pre-booked accommodation. Hell, I'd done it before, what was another multi-million over populated big city... By the time the driver had dropped off the other 6 people at their hotels, I was the last one left on the bus. Slightly uneasy about finding a free room this late at night, I told myself it would all be over in just a few minutes... They dropped me off out the front of some building and I went inside to enquire. I was met by 3 men at reception, eager to be of service... Too eager, I thought. They explained the hotel (?) was booked, but "not to worry" they had another hotel nearby and would take me there... I enquired about the price, which 'not surprisingly' was higher than my guide book suggested. Alarm bells started to ring in my head,
I decided to go outside and take a look at the hostel's name, just in case... Call it intuition, but sure enough something was amiss... The sign said 'Hotel" (no name).. So I proceeded to ask why the sign was missing the name I'd given the bus driver. The 3 men told me that the sign had been taken down for repairs. Aha! So I proceeded to ask them why the street sign had a different name to the one, which their hostel was supposed to be on. They told me that what I was looking at wasn't the street name. Then I asked them why the next building had the same sign but with a different number on it? Aha! Major alarm bells! They saw I'd seen the light and all started talking at me at once, how they could help me (me, the vulnerable-solo-female traveller. right!), how they had a room for me,... Crap! The Scammers. That was it, I'd lost it and in a few words summed up exactly what I thought of them. Furious, I hopped on the first 'moto' (with my massive backpack strapped to the front of my driver) and headed off to look
for my hostel. Along the way my new driver tried to sell me 'a really nice hotel he knew of'.... No thanks! I demanded he take me straight to the other place. We pulled up in front of a building, just 2 minutes around the corner. This time I checked the name, all was in order. As I jumped off the bike, some guy approached me and said that the place was full, but 'not to worry' they had another hostel nearby... Meanwhile my driver starts the bike and starts to drive off. I shouted at him to stop and pulled my backpack off him (cursing), telling the first guy that I would go inside and ask at reception whether the place was full. So I made my way down the world's narrowest corridor and was greeted by a friendly face (finally). Sure enough, that guy out the front was a con-artist, working for some other hotel and trying to steal their clientele. I was furious. I left my pack and went outside to look for my moto driver. He had disappeared.
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