24 Sep 2017
OK to survive in Vietnam and NOT to get scammed, one should develop a certain mindset of total preparedness, for anything, anytime. Always “attack first”, for protection. Be as straightforward as possible. Always think as far as you can. Be vocal, always.
If you dislike anything, just a single bit (there is A LOT to dislike while on your culture shock during the first 1-3 months) – stand up and go; ask a driver to stop their car, pay them and leave; it is always, always cheaper to pay JUST with the money, whatever the price is.
When (not if) they overcharge – OVERPAY THEM. Pay even more than they have asked for. But remember them, and AVOID. There are merchants out there who are honest, who are noble. It is a freaking QUEST to find them.
Whenever your phone rings, save the number. Mark it with a certain group like “ZZZ_” prefix in front of their name. Then, whenever you’ll make a call to an unknown earlier number, you will know the danger by its name.
Add any and every suspicious contact, lying agent(s), harassing Grab Taxi driver, not truthful or otherwise anyone you wouldn’t deal with – to this prefix group.
Just out of a habit, “Good morning/afternoon/evening, sir/madam”. Politeness is always the king, even in a land of scams. You are a foreign gentleman, so why not be the gentleman in every way. Even if they attempt to scam you, show them the freaking class.
Find those few or very few with whom you may want to deal with. They will be grateful and you will be appreciated.
If there is a shop or whatever you are looking for in a Google Map, most likely than not this place does not exist on that location. After 5-7 attempts I just gave up on Google Maps search. You are welcome to test it.
Whichever agreements you have made over the phone and/or in person with a very, very, very rare exceptions will NOT work out the way you expected. So, better yet – make zero/none agreements with anyone just about anything.
As an active Grab Taxi user (and the only reason why I am here), I can tell you this. >85% of drivers accept your ride while they are chilling out in a cafe with their “friends” or during whatever other activities.
That means you will have to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait…
My record waiting was 11 minutes before a car even started to move after they accepted the ride. I understood that by actually walking by a car as you see on the map and looking for the drivers.
Now when a car does not move after 3 minutes of waiting, I am cancelling.
If a driver wants to chat instead of doing their job, I am cancelling.
If a driver moves into a different direction, I am cancelling, as it means there will be a lot more surprises down the road.
Earlier, each and every driver CALLED every time they have accepted an order. So I was ordering Grab Taxi on the Airplane mode with wi-fi enabled. After a few months, even without Airplane mode nobody called (they don’t speak English, mind you).
If there are no other cars, I go out and take a street taxi. It is so much faster.
When you see a cab, just walk to it, open the back right door and sit down. Then just show your target drop-off Google Map location to the driver. That’s it.
If/When the driver does anything other than “OK sir/madam” (like getting out of the car for whatever reason, or starting “where are you from” bs) – just calmly and immediately walk away. Do not talk to anybody. IGNORE.
If they continue, just pay and ask to stop the car. Then walk away and find another Taxi. It is that easy. And just IGNORE the driver when they get out. Cross the road, walk different direction, you are being harassed.
It is NOT professional for a driver to “chat” with their passengers. This alone would save you A LOT of trouble, and maybe even more than just that. And not in just Vietnam.
Avoid, avoid, avoid long term (more than 1 month) lease/rent agreements/contracts of any kind. AVOID. All these agreements are useless. Toilet paper is of more use than any “agreements” here, unless your counter-agent is a company with a name, 5+ years history, with Google reviews, referable. As a foreigner, you will not be able to prove anything anywhere, if anything happens. What agreements are you talking about? That is not bs, that is hs.
The rents you find on internet are all fake, beware. The pictures are edited or from another property (rented out and/or higher price and/or with a window facing a wall).
When you call “an agent”, they will tell you that this exact apt. is not available at the moment, and they will offer you another one, which is “similar”. The price they exhibit is for long term only (1 year), and they have “made a mistake” in their listing.
The “agent’s” name will be different than the one you know already for the same phone number (remember and AVOID). Whatever you do, you will be wrong, because “in Vietnam, they do different”. And I am talking about CVR here.
When you have found something yourself “off the street” and agreed with anything and everything (so you think) with a family member – be prepared that you will need to do the same, again, later with the other family member (husband / wife / son / whoever) later, BEFORE you deposit cash. If that other family member disliked you and/or for any other reason(s) be psychologically prepared for the terms to be changed, one way or another.
After you have found a place you like, check and test everything in advance, beforehand. EVERYTHING. Toilet, shower water stream, sink water, water heater/boiler, A/C, kitchen exhaust, washing machine, standing fan, microwave, kettle, rice cooker, EVERYTHING. It should work, right now, right there. If it doesn’t, go away until it works. All the “promises” are bs. They will do NOTHING after you pay the money.
Deposit. Unless you are dealing with a reputable 5+ y.old company with staff members, multiple properties and Google reviews, be prepared to walk away without the deposit. Do not leave the property until you get you deposit. Harass the owner by waking up at 5-6am and DEMAND the deposit. Let them know that you will call the police.
People (males) here scream like an animal “you!!!”, “…YOOUU!!!!!” when you pass by, in a rudest manner imaginable, as one would expect from someone in Bronx NY (no offense) or Northern London (no offense) as an irritative, irksome invitation for a street fist fight.
And they do it while comfortly sitting in a chair, on the ladders, or standing still or whatever, while drilling you with their eyes and/or loudly spitting.
What can a gentleman do here? IGNORE. Go on as if nothing happens. Think about wherever that great place you were going to. Like a beach.
If you are with a lady… Well, IGNORE. Whatever happens full IGNORE. This is their land, and we are just foreigners here, legal aliens.
They say/scream “hello” in the same manner as above. When you do the only right thing, which is – IGNORE, they may then scream to you the same way “*UUUCK YOU”. We know already what to do here, right? IGNORE.
As a matter of habit, unless one wants even more adrenaline here, AVOID single women approaching and/or making a show right in front of you. They are fishing for your attention, and – of course – money. Do not be fooled, your money (and freedom) is all they want.
They are looking to increase their already high two-digit notch count. You are welcome.
GROUPS OF PEOPLE.
It is safe to just cross the road.
CROSSING THE ROAD.
There are no road rules in Vietnam. Zero. So, the safest place to cross a rod is NOT on a zebra crosswalk(s). It is anywhere, when there are no cars/bikes/whatever objects in sight.
Mind you, they may be driving where you may not expect it. The double lines in the middle of the road do not mean these cannot be crossed. Actually, these will be crossed by vehicles of all size. Beware big size vehicles such as buses.
If there is an underway, it is your only friend to make a 100% safe crossing.
Otherwise, it takes MONTHS of practicing and steel nerves.
It is best NOT to drive bikes/motorcycles/bicycles.
Otherwise (and in any case) you should have a bullet proof insurance with international coverage and helicopter delivery such as BUPA GLOBAL.
Better grab a taxi, unless you wouldn’t mind to take all the stress and scratches here, there and over there.
CAFES / BARS / RESTAURANTS.
Prepayment – restaurant tips in Vietnam
BEACH: HIDE YOUR WATCH.
Hide your watch – tips for snatch thefts
The above is after living half a year in the “most developed”, “most advanced”, “most friendly” location – “Da Nang”.
They call it “Vietnamese Singapore”. Aha.