Hue - tourist dollar rant

Date: 27/05/2007 | Author: Dave

We took the day train from Danang to Hue. Not the Orient Express but it can boast some lovely elevated coastal views as it strains at walking pace up and around several headlands and bays. In Hue we have booked into the Saigon Morin. It is the oldest and one of the nicest hotels in Hue. It's great to treat ourselves occasionally. Gabby books all of the hotels and , in theory, I control the purse strings. The system is a simple one - She says "Darling can we stay somewhere really nice in Hue" and I say "Of course we can" - and everyone is happy.
It is normal for motorcycle, cyclo and taxi drivers to try to overcharge but as we get further north in Vietnam it is getting worse. I am becoming a lot less soft about parting with my tourist dollar. It is culturally bad manners to loose your temper with these people so even in the face of daylight robbery (they work well in pairs) I am managing to calmly admonish them for their indiscretions. We spent an hour visiting the remains of the Purple Forbidden Palace and then took a pair of Cyclos around the old citadel. As the girls wander back into the hotel I am left trying to pay our drivers the agreed price. I am beginning to realise why they always drop off just out of sight of the hotel entrance. They come up with many reasons why I should pay them more. Keeping your Dong in your hand in these situations is tricky. I don't seem to have the correct change and they grab an inflated fee from my hand. It seems easy enough to take it back from them and I sort it out in the end. Their final ploy is always to look very sadly at you. I know that western tourists = cash in their eyes but overpaying doesn't help. There are 16,000 Dong to one $US.
Even on a more official level there are different prices for Vietnamese and foreigners. Separate queues for foreigners tickets and even menus written in English will have bigger numbers on them than their Vietnamese equivalents.
Food in Vietnam is definitely more expensive than Laos and Cambodia. We don't eat street food with the kids and Gabby and I like occasionally to find a nice wine list. I know that it is not a giant leap from noodles to pasta but spaghetti bolognese can be twice the price of say, noodles with crab. No prizes for guessing which is our girls favourite.

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