So as you know, we are currently in Vietnam. Hanoi was perfect and it is an absolutely charming city. But as you can see from my post ti...

The worst part of our travel so far...


So as you know, we are currently in Vietnam.
Hanoi was perfect and it is an absolutely charming city.

But as you can see from my post title, yes, Sianpei and I have met some troubles.

After Hanoi, we moved on to Halong Bay and then to Sapa.

I was looking forward to Sapa so much because it's trekking heaven.

When we reached Sapa via train, we were so excited because the overnight sleeping train was such a nice experience!!! And I thought it was gonna be absolute beauty from then on and ever more.

Sadly, we got cheated by the Vietnamese in Sapa. Not just once, but too many times...

Unlike the other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is a different ball game altogether. In other countries, we trusted the people very much and the trust was reciprocated. But in Sapa, omg, they were all out to get our money and when they don't, they get aggressive or dramatic.

Our first experience was getting to Bac Ha market, where a "bus conductor" charged us twice the price of the usual ticket. It was supposed to be 60,000 VND, which is about $3 for a ticket from Lao Cai to Bac Ha. But this hooligan charged us 200,000 ($10) each. Wtf?!??!

But wait a minute, before that happened, two of his crony friends wanted to take us in a mini-van at a cost of 300,000 each ($15) Luckily Sianpei did her research and knew that there was a public bus. And she knew that the bus was supposed to be 60,000 VND. So after much deliberation, we declined and decided against going to the market. The bus then drove away. But suddenly, the bus stopped and the conductor got down and said fine, 100,000 VND ($5) each. For that amount, we decided to give in. After we got into the bus, the ACTUAL bus conductor told us that we just dealt with the mafia. Freakin corrupted shits ripping off tourists?! And we figured that the actual bus conductor probably didn't get any money at all. He was such an honest man and I just.. feel so sad because he was one of the few genuine people we've met while in Sapa.

That was just the first incident. And we were smart by refusing to give in. We moved on and believed it was an isolated incident.

What happened next ON THE SAME DAY was, we got cheated in the market. By a lady who sold us drinks this time.

This lady.....

 sold us.......

..... these drinks in the forefront... (passion fruit drink & a cup of coffee + those little snacks - literally peanuts)

for a Grand Total of...

guess what?

300,000 VND = SGD 15!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Holy mother?!?!

That's daylight bloody robbery for drinks that can be bought at, at most $2 each. AT MOST.

We were just like wtf?! And wait.. wait... that's not the worst part. When we refused to pay her and told her we'd only pay 200,000.. guess what?

SHE FREAKIN BEGAN TO CRY. Holy mother, please, somebody, give her an award for Best Actress. Wah knnb seriously. I cannot find other profanities for this woman. I really........

I was ready to leave that place and put just 200,000 VND on the table. Unfortunately, before this whole bloody theatrical show that this woman put on, she had a super friendly facade and placed Sianpei's backpack on her side of the store. So we couldn't leave and escape. Eventually, Sianpei gave in and placed 50,000 dong more into her hands and told her to accept it. After giving a few pouts and bullshit, the woman accepted it AND SHE STARTED SMILING FROM EAR TO EAR AND THANKING US and for the love of God, shaking our hands. I didn't want to shake her hand or look her in the eye, all I wanted to do was walk away from the woman. She even wanted to give us free popcorn and stuff. Wahlau eh this woman, I swear, I've never met someone like that before. Can you feel my anger?

We left, emotionally hurt because we treated her nicely and in exchange, we were cheated.

And finally, hell didn't quite seem to end because we got cheated one last time. On the same bloody day. By another mafia. We needed to go to the main part of Sapa where all the treks were.

This time, I regretted not making the decision to just go to the public bus instead of taking a stupid "mini-van". We should've done the same thing the first time and not used a bloody mini-van. We thought the mini-van could take us directly to our guesthouse since it was a distance away from the centre of Sapa. We paid 300,000 VND to a different dude, whom we trusted, to take us to our hostel. In the end, the driver dropped us off at the centre but what?! We paid to go all the way to our hostel hello!?? So we pleaded with the driver to take us there directly because that was what we paid for. Plus, we had already booked + paid for our guesthouse. We pleaded with all our hearts and drained all emotions. Yet, the man refused. He wanted to drive all the way back to Lao Cai, which was 1+ hours to where we started. And I told Sianpei, let's just get down and find another guesthouse to stay.

That was it. We were emotionally exhausted and hurt and felt like we couldn't trust another Vietnamese. That was all it took to wipe out all good impressions of the Vietnamese we met earlier on. We met TONS and TONS of awesome Vietnamese in Hanoi but these three incidents just made us so damn bloody disgusted and disillusioned.

What's more, while in Sapa, we met even more crazy people who were the rudest of the rudest I've ever met in my entire life. Like... they were all out for the money man. All out. Our sincerest of intentions just got washed away and it felt like I couldn't be nice to anyone in Sapa again.

It was that bad.

I had never seen Sianpei raise her voice before at anyone within my three years of knowing her. And in such a short span of time, I've heard her raise her voice more times than those three years. We are nice people and are the most considerate travellers ever, so to feel like these people don't treat us the way we've treated them and their country, we feel yeah, cheated.

We discussed this, and from what I believe, it could also be because as Singaporeans, we are largely honest people and we trust people easily since we don't encounter such things at home. So we could be a little naive when dealing with people. All sorts of people. I suppose, we'll have to be a lot more discerning now.

But because of this, it has made me miss home - miss Singapore. This is one of the times when you'd feel proud to be a Singaporean, proud of your nation. We may be too clean and too strict, may not be the friendliest people of all BUT at least we're honest people and you won't be getting the shorter end of the stick. The type of governance reflects the nation's type of people.

Yet, I choose to believe that Sapa has been an exception because the people we've met all throughout our travels have been amazing. And I shan't generalise the whole of Vietnam, coz like I said, we've met the friendliest people ever in Vietnam.

And as with my other travels, during the lowest of lows, I'd meet people who are helpful. Right at that point when we were downtrodden after the last cheating incident, we were lucky to have met a bunch of backpackers from Israel, Canada and Italy. I asked "Hey do you guys know a good hostel?" and they were like, "We're looking for one now too!" and I went, "Can we join you guys???" and they were like, "SURE!!!"

They're so awesome. We got a good hostel called Kenpas Hostel at 200,000 VND ($10) a night.

The next day, we had a good day trekking with them, or rather, walking haha, to Cat Cat Village.

Sapa is still beautiful lah and although it's the coldest time of the year, we were so lucky to have blue skies and bright sun yesterday despite the weather forecast saying that it'd rain.

We weren't second-time lucky today coz it's bloody foggy the whole day. We wanted to trek today but we're now stuck in the room. And that sucks. It has made me feel so rotten the entire day, because I contemplated leaving Sapa for Hanoi yesterday but made the decision to stay, thinking that we'd be lucky again. But I'm kicking myself for not making that decision and now I'm thinking we wasted more money for the hostel. Sigh. After all that money wasted in the earlier cheating incidents as well. Sigh sigh. And I'm just annoyed because we didn't really get to trek properly. I was sooo looking forward to it.

Right now, I'm looking forward to getting back to Hanoi already, where people are so much friendlier and less rude.

Yet, I want to give Sapa another shot. I'm thinking about whether I'll ever make a trip here again because they say that July/Aug is a better season when the rice plantations are growing and the mountains are greener. But this place feels so commercialised already, that it doesn't even feel authentic! The homestays and treks feel gimmicky. I really don't know.

But one thing REALLY interesting about this place is the local villagers and mamas who are so cute and speak such good english that I'd come back here to be taken on a trek by one of them. Look at this picture!

The angmohs are so tall and they are sooo small but they're SO NOT afraid of speaking to them in DARN GOOD English and selling them things. Not afraid at all. That's so interesting about them.

These villagers even started a whole black market trade by offering foreigners THEIR OWN trekking packages to their own villages and homes. SO SMART!!!! They will show you a map and tell you where they'll take you and some of them even have a book of TESTIMONIES written by other people who have taken their tours. So so so SO SMART. My newfound backpacker friends attested to that because they did one of the half day hikes before we met them. We even wanted to go on a trek with one of the village mamas today because they're so much cheaper than the tour packages on offer - what's more it's a local bringing you around speaking in awesome English as well. So why not right??? Sadly the weather... argh!!

The Vietnamese are so brave with talking to foreigners and that's one of the conclusions that led us to thinking that they are a different breed from other SEA people. And perhaps, that is also why they won the war against the Americans. The only country that won a battle against a superpower during the Cold War era.

So despite all that we experienced in Sapa, I really got to give it to these Vietnamese villagers because they appear to be so backwarded with their traditional garbs and worn faces, but are so brave and good at thinking of ideas to make money. Good for them.

All they need to do is to fix their greed for money and rampant corruption....

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