Wednesday, September 13, 2006

High way robbery

Hung- My High Way Robber, originally uploaded by kathrynparry41.

It was a beautiful day in Hanoi; the humidity had magically disappeared from the air and the sky was an inviting shade of blue. I arranged to met my 'new' friends a couple from Melbourne outside the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum at 8 30am.

It was a long walk from the hotel, but enjoyed it as it allowed me to see a completely different side of the city. The buildings in this part of town are large and impressive, the streets are wide and the trees massive.

On arrival at the mausoleum we discovered it was closed as it usually is every Monday and instead I decided to spend the morning looking for an ATM, somewhere that sold sim cards, a post office and check out some different sites in the afternoon.

On my way to the atm, a 'motto' driver approached me, his English was good and he said he would like to take me to some sights. As per usual I said no and he replied ‘I will find you later and then I will take you around’, laughing to myself I said ‘yeah’.

After a luxurious hour wandering the streets I was approached by the same motto driver, a coincidence considering the city has about 50 of them on every corner and given the warmth of his smile I decided to let him take me to see the B52 that was shot down in the war and left as a reminder of times past.

Ever one to attempt to capture the moment I got him to pose for me on his motorbike. Afterwards we agreed on a new price and he took me to the temple of literature, he was so speedy and efficient and I genuinely thought I was the luckiest girl in all of Hanoi to find an honest motto driver with excellent English.

Afterwards, he said ‘I take you on one hour tour of the city’, we agreed on a 'fair' price and after driving for about 30 minutes the motto 'broke down' and I knew I was in trouble.

He screamed at me for 40 USD and pushed me. I surveyed the surroundings and noted I was 1/ on a HWY Viet style 2/ I had no idea where I was- crazy thoughts flashed before me- and I had no idea how to get out of the pickle I so foolishly put myself in....

I screamed back, he screamed louder and he grabbed my purse and my arm. There was about 25USD in Vietnamese currency in my wallet and when he saw I didn't have any more or any USD notes he only got more angry. ‘Where are your dollars?’ he screamed... by this stage tears were overflowing down my cheeks and thoughts of his discovery of my money belt scarred me, was I really cut out for traveling solo. Could one so foolish navigate her way around Asia independently?

Finally he departed and left me walking down the HWY to the city, feeling deflated and wanting to jump on the next plane back to somewhere moral and safe, a young girl approached me, apologized for her countryman’s behavior and assisting me with both getting onto a local bus back into town and realizing that no everyone in Vietnam is a bad person.

Shaken but not deterred I relised 2 things- what high way robbery really means and how lucky I am.

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