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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

2 December 2018

Most cheeky f*cker

At the pagoda

At the pagoda

26 November 2018

The guy at the pagoda really annoyed me. He came up to me with a tourism questionaire and saying that he was a teacher. So, yeah, I filled it in for him. Then he showed me a card that explained in English that he was helping the Red Cross collect money for people with disabilities, and offered me a book signed by all the other tourists that had donated; an American couple had given $30, a UK family had given 500,000 dong (£16). I rolled my eyes, said I wasn’t interested, but offered 10,000 dong to be rid of him. The price of a dish of spring rolls.

He looked very offended. Used the piece of paper to show me how 25,000 dong = $1. Looked at me with an expression of mild disapproval. I shrugged and told him to take the 10,000. Nooooo… he pushed my hand away and told me to put the money back in my pocket, he was just too, too offended by my cheapness. Some real scorn.

So I did, and walked off.

Never met a real charity worker who would reject a donation as being “too small”.

Pagoda bling

Pagoda bling

Maureen pointed out that it was a final gambit. 10,000 dong wasn’t going to make his fortune, but by outright rejecting it he had one more throw of the dice; perhaps I would feel ashamed and fish out some proper money. Fat chance. I just wished I’d called him a swindler to his face.

The pagoda itself was only mildly interesting, by the way. This is one of Hanoi’s problems; it doesn’t have any sights worth seeing. And I know, because we’ve seen them all. They are either terrifically low-key, or mostly ruined and long gone, or were rebuilt some time in the twentieth century because the French trashed the original. What you come to Hanoi for is to absorb some of the sheer colour and insanity, and slurp down some of the street food.

We decided to take a break from the street food on our last night and eat at a proper restaurant. We even had a glass of wine. We picked a place called Madame Hien which is perhaps as fine as Hanoi gets. It was okay, but the two starters were limp failures in their own ways and the main courses were good… but not up to the standard of the food we’ve been eating sat on tiny plastic stools on the kerbside. All very predictable, of course, but the dining on street corners a few feet from the traffic and grime does become a bit wearing, so on balance I’m glad of the break. Even if the bill was approximately 10 times a street dinner!

Shop of fasteners

Shop of fasteners


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