I smell a scam

Monday 11th December

Miles: None   Climbing: None

As I walked into the breakfast area this morning I spotted a cat. Some Vietnamese do keep dogs and cats, and others eat them!?! But I don’t think they make as much fuss of them as we tend to. I’d not seen any being played with, stroked or fed before. I had noticed this cat being fed my the hotel owner last night though. A specially prepared meal too, not just scraps.

Of course, within seconds of me sitting down the cat was on my lap. In fact, the cat turned out to be far too clingy, I had a hard time getting rid of it when I needed to go. I can’t really complain though.

After escaping from the car I set off to explore Hoi An. The first thing I noticed was that everyone was very friendly, far too friendly. Everyone commented on my hair, paid me lots of compliments, wanted to know lots about me, wanted me to come to their shop. I managed to escape quite a few of them but then I got suckered by a nice young lady called Lee. After chatting for a while I thought, what harm could it do just to take a look at her shop. What a mistake.

I asked where her shop was and she said “just there”, pointing a little way up the street. I said ok and she led the way. Several streets later (she had talked non stop making it very difficult, with my British politeness, to object) we arrived at her shop when several other women were waiting to pounce.

Hoi An is famous for its tailor shops and I was now in one facing quite an insistent sales pitch. I explained many reasons why I could or wouldn’t be buying anything from them and when they realised that I was about to get up to leave Lee became desperate, sprang up out of her chair, put her hands down my neck and said “I give you free massage”. I could have laughed at how ridiculous the situation was. I left then but it’s a shame I didn’t get my free massage.

I spent a while wondering around the shops. Luckily I couldn’t buy much due to having to carry all my luggage on my bike but I did buy myself the travellers uniform of baggy trousers with elephants on.

One of the things recommended my my travel book was the Japanese covered bridge which connects two parts of the town. I crossed over it and thought it was ok but nothing special. I had noticed a very small temple in a room on the bridge that it appeared you had to pay to get in but I didn’t bother with that. I did see some tourist buy a ticket and I’d got the impression that they had thought they needed it to cross the bridge but I didn’t pay much attention and carried on my way. I did hear a shout behind me but didn’t think much of it.

After exploring the shops of the other side I went back across the bridge again. Just as I was about to pass onto the other side a Vietnamese woman stepped into my way and said “you check your ticket” and pointed towards the lady with the tickets for the temple. Thinking it was just a misunderstanding I explained that I hadn’t been in the temple, I just crossed the bridge. The lady became even more insistent that I must buy a ticket (for $15!!!) but I just kept saying that I just crossed the bridge, I didn’t need a ticket (I was sure the guide book said it was free). Things looked like they were about to turn nasty so I just quickly stepped to the side and walked right by her. I later checked trip advisor and it appears that this is a scam that happens all the time.

After all this stress I was in need of a drink so I headed to an Irish Pub. It didn’t feel very Irish or pub like apart from the fact it was called Dublin Gate and served very overpriced cans of Guinness.

Still feeling a little stressed I went for a massage, choosing the massage parlour carefully in case I ended up in the wrong kind of establishment.

In the evening I went back out into Hoi An. It really is beautiful at night with lanterns stung up everywhere.

The women by the water selling floating lanterns that people buy, light and then they float off into the sea (where they will no doubt end up killing something).

As beautiful as Hoi An is, I didn’t really like it that much. It felt too fake and had attracted too many scammers. I’m glad I went and if you want to but lots of beautiful souvenirs and clothes then it’s a great place but I’m not in a hurry to go back.

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