In every country, you’ll meet friendly and welcoming people, and you’ll also meet people who are looking for ways to rip you off. And of course, there are always the locals who find foreigners extremely amusing and just want to get their attention. Today, we seem to have met them all.
With the pain in my leg being so bad lately, I found my way down to one of the many spas in Danang for a deep tissue massage. When the masseuse saw me flinch as she worked near my damaged shin (I was hit by an ebike nearly 4 years ago and have dealt with nerve damage ever since), she asked me about it…. Then, instead of avoiding the area, like most masseuses do… She dug in. She worked on that area and used Tiger balm and tried to bring down the swelling. In the end she did not charge me for the extra 15 minutes she spent on that leg. To her…I was not a piggy bank. I was someone in pain that she could help. So she did.
I can honestly say that I’ve met people like her in every country I’ve visited. There’s always someone who goes the extra mile and is extra helpful or extra nice to you; they see you as a guest in their country and try to help where they can. Whether it’s helping you find your way when you’re obviously lost (like we saw in Taiwan) or helping you choose the most representative dessert to bring back to your family (at a bakery in India), we always find kind people.
As we arrived at the night market tonight, we parked the motorbike that we rented and the girl who takes payment for the parking came over and asked for 20,000 Dong. I laughed and said “no, the sign says 5,000…”. Her face stayed straight and she said “20,000”. I saw an older woman walk by who also worked there and I asked how much the fee was and she confirmed the price I had understood: 5,000. She gave the young girl heck for trying to rip us off, we paid our 5,000 Vietnamese Dong and carried on.
It was nice that the older woman was being honest but it bothers me that a young kid, probably 14 or 15 is actively trying to rip people off. She learned that somewhere…
The other type of “annoying” we deal with involves “awkward laughers”: people who get uncomfortable around foreigners and laugh loudly and awkwardly as a result. We sat across the street from 4 or 5 of those types of people today at lunch. They were VERY amused that we were eating at a local food stand and not in the usual touristy area. The food was good… Everyone was happy. No laughter necessary. And yet…
The Less than Nice
20 minutes after renting our bike today, we were pulled over for a traffic violation. We had turned left onto a one way and hadn’t moved over to the right lane quickly enough, so we got ticketed for our infraction. It was rotten luck and we simply just didn’t know, but that’s not what made the situation “less than nice”.
Before we left the motorcycle rental agency they warned us that if we are pulled over and don’t have valid international driver’s licence, that the police would impound the vehicle and charge us 250USD.
I swear you could see the look of disappointment on that police officer’s face when we had our papers in order. He was hoping for a bribe, but we had been through this before, in Thailand, so we were prepared.
There are several morals to my story:
- There are good people, annoying people and not so nice people EVERYWHERE.
- Always renew your international licence if you’re going to drive in a different country.
- Pay attention to signs so you can know what to expect to pay (and avoid getting ripped off)
- Smile! Life is short and traveling is mostly a lot of fun. Don’t let every bad interaction get you down. After all… The police are trying to keep the streets safe and those kids at the parking lot are probably not getting paid very well and just trying to get some extra pocket money.
Tomorrow, we’ll be spending Christmas sight seeing and soaking in the beautiful views!