Yes, we got scammed while in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s not something I’m overly happy about since I did a lot of research on scams (I read a few articles, so not really a lot); but more than that, I just feel stupid. So, in an effort to help anyone else who’s travelling to Vietnam or to share a story to help you, who may have been scammed, see that you’re not stupid. People who scam are lame and low-lifes. I try to think they need it more than me – it’s sad, actually.
Okay – let’s get to this.
The Good Guys
These two companies are the way to go when in Ho Chi Minh City – Mailnh or Vinasun. Stick with them and no one else.
These guys below, they suck.
Yes, I know when you look at all three companies side-by-side it’s quite obvious which one is a scammer. The thing is, when you’re hot and trying to get to your destination, and starving, you tend to forget to watch for these things. Especially when you’re 20 days in without one scam!
So, how did we get scammed? They pulled the bill switch on us. Not to mention their metre moves far faster than the other two companies, yet that’s besides the point.
How do we know? Each morning, before we left our hotels, we divided the money we would need for the day. Most in Bryce’s zipper pocket, inside of his other pocket (so hard to pick-pocket). The other little bundle was in my purse.
On the morning of this scam we had a 200,000 dong bill. That’s roughly about 10$ at the time we travelled. We handed him the one bill and as quickly as possible, he turn and showed us a 10,000 bill saying we didn’t give him enough. Now, here’s the thing. We knew what happened. We had only one 200,000 bill and he had pocketed it. In all honesty, though, what do you do when you’re in a communist country and it’s your word against the taxi driver’s word? I would like to think things would come down on our side, however, the time spent (even say an hour) wasn’t worth the 10$.
So, we got out more money and started to count. Get this – I grabbed the 10,000 bill back from him, so we actually only lost 190,000.
After, when we were walking back to our hotel 3 of the guys were sitting on the other side of the street, ready to sweep up tourists in the back-pack district. You can see they’re giving me the thumbs up? Oh, and the guy turning his head, he was our driver. Well, after taking their picture I gave them the biggest thumbs down. Quite risky for me – haha.
Overall, it was a lesson learned and I hope you stay scam free the next time you travel!
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Birthday in Ho Chi Minh City – where I turned one marvellous year older. Since I planned the hotels before hand, I knew where we’d be for my birthday in late April – Vietnam! This restaurant, Noir, has excellent reviews and a top chef. The trick? You eat in the dark! 100% blackness. The lady next to us had to remove her watch because the little hands glowed. You wouldn’t believe what your senses are like when you’re eating in the dark – you should try it.
Okay, before Noir we had lunch at a little local place – a vegetarian restaurant that was a bit off the beaten path, yet looked and smelled so good. This far into our trip I’d gotten a bit smart about being a Celiac and eating. Usually, I ordered what I thought would be best and often ordered a back-up of french fries, since generally they were safe.
At this little place I found a corn salad dish that seemed safe and Bryce ordered pho. When my corn salad came it had all of these little fried bits in it. I had no idea what it was and with the language barrier, no way I could ask! So, I ordered french fries. Now, here’s the thing, the menu had some english on it so I was quite confident I would get fries. Nope, I got these round things below. I think it’s fried tofu.
I’m laughing so much because I’m using chop-sticks to eat one kernel of corn at a time (as to not get the gluten bits) and the regulars who visit for their Friday lunch are staring and laughing at me. It was so funny. Needless to say, I was starving when we got to Noir.
Noir is awesome. They have 3 menu options (meat, fish, vegetarian) – we both got vegetarian and they were able to accommodate me as a Celiac. Total score.
For my birthday I got this little flower bracelet – I love Noir.
Okay, these pictures are bad because you’re not allowed to use a flash in the restaurant, not even in the entry way. Don’t get fooled – you don’t eat with a mask on. This is just the entry room where they walk you through a few exercises to get you used to using your other senses.
So, first you walk in and sit at a little table. They get you a drink and they ask you if you want to play a game. Yes! You put on the mask and you have to solve the puzzle. Easy, right? Ah, no.
Next, they ask if you’re ready to go into the dining room. Keep in mind that you don’t know what you’re going to eat, you just know the theme. They walk you into another room and introduce you to your server. Then, in kongo line fashion, you follow him in (arms straight ahead, on the person’s shoulders). He walks you over to the table and helps you take a seat. The room in pitch black. Also, most servers are visually impaired or completely blind.
Once you take a seat he walks you through where your table items are – fork, water, napkin and so on. Then, the 7 course menu starts. Yes, 7 courses!
Everything tasted so fresh and was so delicious. I found myself eating slower, savouring more, and simply living in the moment. Pure beauty.
After the meal you’re taken into an exiting room – it’s like the entry room, yet bright and just as well decorated. The manager comes over and shows you pictures of everything you ate. You can tell, even in the dark, that attention is given to the food and the pictures prove it.
Don’t we look happy and well fed? We are!
If you ever have the opportunity to eat at Noir in Ho Chi Minh City, take it – you’ll love it. Thanks for visiting and happy travelling.
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On our visit to Ho Chi Minh City we visited the Museum of Fine Arts – such a joy.
Museum of Fine Arts
The museum is open everyday, except Mondays, from 9am – 5pm. Also, no breaks for lunch, which makes it the perfect place to visit for a couple of hours between your other sites.
Beautiful art with historical influence.
This piece I love – it’s so fun and full of movement.
Sculpting is so amazing. This bust is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I saw on our whole trip. The Museum of Fine Arts did well on this piece.
Overall, a delightful museum. It’s also very close to the market, so you can grab a quick lunch or snack if you’re hungry. We spent about an hour here – or just a bit more, since it wasn’t busy at all. The nice part, too, is that we got to get out of the sun and enjoy the cool breeze making it’s way through the building. It’s not air conditioned, which is odd to me since I think the art needs some temperature control, but who knows.
If you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, don’t pass up an opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts – it’ll brighten you day. Happy travelling.
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