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Nha Trang, Vietnam

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 9 December 2009 | Views [852]

Nha Trang

I escaped the city of Saigon for a few days to go to Nha Trang in the East coast of the middle of Vietnam. It was a nice little beach town with lots of restaurants and bars. And tours. I think the fun of tours in Vietnam is the gamble of how they’ll be. You never know what’s going to happen next on one. Always a big production, “let me show you something special, my friend…” over nothing. The past 2 days, I went on tours that made me think WTF is this a tour of? It's hilarious. They keep you guessing... For example, I went to a "zoo" which had a few chickens and horses and ostriches, while it blasted techno music! And they had animal shows- (dog, monkey and bear shows) revolting shows of disregard for animals rights and the environment. I got dragged on stage on a booze cruise/ snorkel tour boat today and had to sing the Back street boys "I want it that way" only I don't know the words!!!! lol.

The snorkel tour was a joke, b/c the reef was dead. They gave us crappy cloudy lens masks and broken snorkels and we swam around water to see dead reefs and a few fish. Nothing like Palawan in the Philippines. Really disappointing. What saved each tour was the amazing lunches. The tour guides pull great food out of nowhere! The guides do try hard to make the tour a whole days worth of activities, but its pretty lame. Although observing how lame it can be is quite entertaining. “Let us now stop on this lovely islands. You can enjoy many fruits and ocean activities. You pay only 20,000 dong to sit here for 1 hour and do nothing. Unless you pay an outrageous sum of money to do an ocean “sport” such as jet ski for 4 minutes or parasail for 3 minutes. Yes, we hope you enjoy the tour”. Cha ching!

I noticed that tour operators, restaurants and hotel people will charge you for stuff you either don’t use or is over promised. I got charged extra for a room in a hotel with hot water, but ended up taking a cold shower. And I would have had to climb down 5 stories of stairs to go complain, then back up. The Philippines prepared me for cold showers, but at least they don’t advertise “hot” showers as a part of the room fee, then not deliver. #65 Bui Vien Street did this. A hotel over a Pharmacy- Don’t stay there- it’s a dump! Then they charged me an extra $2 than the agreed upon rate. After my cold shower.

Other little things they do in an otherwise honest country is offer you a wet wipe with your food. If you use it, you’ll pay 2,000-5,000 for being clean. Some places will even charge you if you don’t use it. Another thing is to book with a tour operator for 1 tour, then they tell you there’s not enough people on the tour, so you have to join another tour. And while waiting to be picked up, you miss ½ of the day’s promised activities. Or, like in my case, I paid for my own hotel room on the Mekong River tour, then was told at the hotel, I needed to share a room with 3 others. After paying extra up front to have my own space. What am I going to do? I leave the country tomorrow. I’ll probably never book another tour with the company again. I just got lucky b/c there were 3 Dutch people traveling alone who agreed to stay in the room together, so I got my own room. Out of luck, after I paid for it in advance. (Asia Smile Tours did this). Yeah, big smiles- for THEM, not me!

On the way from Nha Trang back to Saigon, I booked a sleeper bus, but didn't specify my seat, so for 10 hours, I was booked in the middle aisle, next to the crapper with a friggen TV blasting a show in Vietnamese in my face. On a sleeper bus. Yeah, I’m likely to sleep really well with the tv on in my face. I insisted on moving my seat. So I got a bunk bed on the 2nd floor. Next to the crapper. But at least the TV wasn’t in my face while I tried to sleep!

This was better than the bus to Nha Trang. I paid $9 for a seat on a bus (no bed, and no bathrooms) for a 10 hour trip all night. I sat down and started worrying about what if I needed to use the toilet. The lady in front of me promptly reclined her seat all the way back and put her long nailed claws over the top of the seat so I had long glittery talons in my face. Then, an old lady insisted that I let her sit next to me, when there was tons of empty 2 seaters, so of course I moved and let her have my seats. I got to Nha Trang tired as hell, and found out the next day that a sleeper seat cost $10. So for $1 extra, I could have had a bit of comfort and a toilet. But the tour agent I went to told me the sleeper bus was $40. 4 times over the regular price. This was after I bought him a beer and thanked him for his help. Lol, I will still try to be nice to people, even after I get suckered. Just not nice to the same people who duped me!

Don’t get me wrong--- Vietnam is a very nice place, and the people are cool when there’s no money at stake. But tour operators are not looking out for you… they want to make as much off you as possible. And hotels sometimes pull some shady bait and switches. But the stakes are only $1-3 US usually, so even if you get swindled, its not so bad. Oh well. It makes for an interesting, “here’s how I got ripped off by a dollar or two” story!

Tags: bad hotels, nha trang, scams, tours, vietnam

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