It is no secret that the Vietnamese favor their own people, and rightly so. I would equally favor an American, but when it turns into a Robin Hood act, taking from tourists and giving to the Vietnamese, it becomes a problem. A few days ago I was riding in a tour van packed with 20 tourists, luggage and all. There was not much space, and the four hour ride was going to be less than jovial. A few miles down the road the driver pulled over to pick up a few local women hitching a ride; only one problem, there were no seats left. The tour guide asked three of the tourists the get out of the van, giving their seats to the Vietnamese women and assigning the tourists to the portable fold down seats in the aisle.  

If you want to pick up hitchers with your full tour van, whatever. I know this would never fly in a Western country, but being it was Vietnam I could let it slide. Forcing tourists who had paid anywhere from $60-80 for the tour to give up their seats to freeloaders? Unacceptable. I don’t care which country you’re from—Eastern and Western alike, that is just bad customer service.  

To make things more exciting, the ladies chattered on their cell phones the whole drive and had an especially loud conversation with each other when the tour guide was trying to explain the day’s itinerary to us. After the four hour journey, we were an annoyed bunch. This, however, would not be my only aggravating bus adventure.  

The bus anger was left to brew in my mind for a few days, coincidently perfectly preparing me for a scrimmage with an evil bus driver the following week. I had booked a sleeper bus to the north of Vietnam . It was a bunk bed set up with overly reclined bus seats and I happened to have prime pick of the territory, being one of the first people on the bus. Remembering advice from my travel mates, always sleep on the bottom, I settled on a nice bottom bunk in the middle of the bus. As I approached the seat the bus driver ran at me pointing to the top seat saying I must sit there. I refused, inching closer to my beloved bottom bunk. A British girl next to me—also headed toward a bottom bunk—exclaimed, “why do you always make us ride on the top when the Vietnamese get the better bottom seats? Tell me! Why can’t I sleep on the bottom?”  

This tipped the driver off. He turned into something resembling an angry monkey, howling and flailing his arms, all the while ignoring the British girl’s inquiry and yelling at us to take the top seats. This was my breaking point. I had dealt with enough rude people in this country and wasn’t about to tolerate one more. 

“Ever hear of someone named Rosa Parks?” I asked. He stared, confused. “Didn’t think so. Well I’m about to rock your world.”  
I turned to my bottom seat and plopped down. The driver grabbed my arm threatening to yank me from my seat, and I screamed in protest, “I can guarantee you I paid more money for this bus ride than any Vietnamese person, and I will sit wherever I damn well please.” I shoved my ticket in his face exclaiming, “show me where it says the seat number! Nowhere! You can't tell me where to sit, then.”  

Needless to say, he relinquished. This was the first time I had succeeded in a long list of struggles with the locals and it felt good.  
 



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