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Hanoi - Lovely city, shame about the people

View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and second-largest city in the country. Perhaps because of its location in the North of the country and as the country's political capital (and thus more influenced by struggles against foreign powers), or perhaps because the people there are just jerks, foreigner pricing here is extreme and shameless.

At the Lenin monument, there was a stand selling Timbits which seemed very popular with schoolchildren. I asked the price for a bag, ordered one, and was given two timbits for that price. I refused and took my money back - and when I asked the kids how much they paid, they asked the vendor what they should tell me. As I was leaving the vendor followed me for a few minutes, lowering her price a few times (but I'm sure keeping it at several times what locals pay).

There is an old university complex, where the elite would study hundreds of years ago. The turtle sculptures were stelea built in honour of people that passed the hardest exam (equivalent to doctorates), one for each that passed. They are to be respected and not ridden.

A big bell inside the complex

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex and Botanical Garden was mostly closed at the time of our visit (with many signs on sidewalks saying 'no entry beyond this point', meaning we could only see half the area on foot), but the parts we could see housed fancy buildings and a nice park.

A few statues honoring Vietnam's war heroes, who bravely fought enemies using oversized 3-pronged plugs. Not sure that's something to be proud of. Well maybe their bravery.

We saw a motorbike/bicycle collision at a roundabout where we stopped for lunch. The bike guy was unconscious and had to be lifted to the sidewalk by the motorbike guy that collided with him. After a few minutes of him lying on the sidewalk, the lady that owned the store he was on the sidewalk in front of started yelling at the other guy (presumably to take the guy away from her store), who then dragged him across the street. The bike guy eventually came to, stumbled, threw up, refused money from the guy that hit him, and continued along his route.

The main tourist area is centered around a lake, that has 2 pagodas on islands and is surrounded by an old town with cheap shoes, tourist shops with overpriced postcards (the prices start at 10 times the HCMC price, and can be negotiated down to double the HCMC price), a KFC (free washrooms), and a Water Puppet Theatre (for which tickets were sold out).

Final bit of foreigner pricing - Sue wanted me to get a haircut, so I went to a barbershop, waited in line, the guy in front of me got out and paid 15,000 dong, and then I asked how much for a haircut. The barber said 50,000. I glared and walked out. Then I waited in line at another barber, this one being just an old guy with scissors in an alley. The guy in front of me finished, paid 10,000, and I asked the price. He said 100,000. I was struck by a few things about the exchange: that they foreigner price even for non-touristy things like haircuts; that they charge so much ($7 for a haircut in an alley in Vietnam); and that they are so shameless - both times they knew that I saw how much the people ahead of me paid, and they nonetheless tried to charge me several times the correct price.

Posted by chrisvasil 01:32 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites

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