Travel with us and Wally every month to a new country.
We launched a new series about travelling to give you the feeling of discovering new places, even if it is just virtually. Our Ambassador, Wally, shares his funny stories and adventures with us once a month. He has traveled around the world and lived in 7 different countries. You can watch us LIVE on Instagram on every second Wednesday at 4pm. No worries if you have missed it, you can rewatch the full episode whenever you feel like escaping your city a little bit.
In the first episode Wally took us to Wuhan where he was teaching English for 16 months. In this second episode he shares some memories with us from his summer vacation while he was living in China. He took 2 months to travel around Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
There are few places more diverse in landscapes in Southeast Asia than Vietnam. You can find the beautiful limestone rock formations in the north of Ha Long Bay or you can hike through the rice fields of Sapa or ride through the sand dunes of Mui Ne or explore some of the biggest caves in the world in Central Vietnam or enjoy beautiful beaches in my favorite city in Southeast Asia, Hoi An. I could go on and on about Vietnam. Even having visited Vietnam for two and half weeks, there was still so much I didn’t get a chance to do. Many of my friends rode ostriches (although I wouldn’t want to hurt them with my huge body), bought motorbikes and rode from the North to the South of the entire country or vice versa, went to the mud baths in Nha Trang or even bought nice three piece tailor made suits for 100 Euros.
One day I decided to try out a thai massage in Vietnam, the first time in my life. I was not so sure what to expect, so I just went with the flow. That was probably a mistake and I should have stopped to rethink the idea when they asked me to get completely naked for the massage. Things escalated quickly and I found myself in a quite uncomfortable situation… To listen to the full story and find out what happened to me in the massage salon, you can rewatch the episode on Sojoourn’s IGTV.
I want to tell you another adventure now. The story of the one and only time I was attacked in my seven years of travel and it happened in my favorite city, Hoi An.
Now, if you’ve never been to Hoi An, let me paint a picture for you. Hoi An is in central Vietnam on the coast. It has really nice beaches that you can lay out on all day and have food and drinks brought to you without ever having to move. By motorbike you can visit local temple ruins and a variety of different landmarks. You can also buy lots of tailor made clothes very cheap in Hoi An. As a single guy in my early 20s, I made a note of how many women proportional to the amount of men there were in the city, I hypothesize, because of the availability of high quality, inexpensive tailor made clothes. Hoi An also has a really pretty old town that is very Instagramable and really makes you feel like you’re walking through a dream. Add to that, the number of bars and hostels that really cater to backpackers. For me, Hoi An was a backpacker’s paradise.
I had been in Hoi An for about two days and I went out to the bar with some people I had met at my hostel. As is common, you mingle with other people, make new friends, shoot pool and have some drinks. I met some new people and we chatted about which direction we were going, experiences we had and crazy things that had happened to us. It was about time for me and my new friends to head out. One of them, Darryl, happened to be staying really close to where I was staying so we decided to get transportation back together. In Hoi An, there are lots of options for transportation but also lots of options to be swindled. Some locals will wait outside of bars, looking to take advantage of drunk tourists by pretending to be friendly, stealing money and then slipping through other buildings before you even realize that you’ve been robbed. I’m not here to judge those few individuals, because largely, I found Vietnamese people to be really cool and honest. I can’t even say that if I grew up in their situation I wouldn’t do the same. With that said, if you do travel there, this is something you should be aware of.
As we exited the bar, we were approached by a thin man, most likely in his early 30s with a motorbike asking us where we wanted to go. If you ever bargained anywhere for anything, the most important thing about bargaining is typically the thought running through your head, “I don’t want to get ripped off”. You want to pay a fair price and not get taken advantage of. It doesn’t matter how much you’re bargaining for. I’d say of all the Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is the cheapest. 10,000 Vietnamese Dong = 0,5 US Dollars (at the time in 2014). Me and Darryl ended up bargaining to get the guy to take us for 10,000 Dong each. He probably could’ve asked another of his friends to take each of us but because of the price, I’d guess his reasoning was…’They’re both drunk, it’s not that far, both of them can get on.’ So the three of us are careening through the streets of Hoi An on this one motorbike. At this time I was pretty drunk so I was pretty relaxed and this kind of thing is very common in Southeast Asia. So our driver comes to a halt and says, “Ok, we here.” Darryl and I looked around and said, “No, we’re not” and at this point he obviously knew he had not brought us to where we wanted to go. Then he tries to bargain again “20,000 Dong each”. We said “No, we agreed on 10,000 take us.” He relented and continued on, after about 5 minutes he comes to a stop in front of Darryl’s hotel and I recognize some of the buildings about a 2 minute walk from mine.
As we dismount the motorbike and start searching through our wallets for 10,000 Dong notes before I even open my wallet, I’m 99% sure that I don’t have one because I had just taken some money out of the ATM and the bills were all 100,000 or 200,000. Darryl finds a 10,000 note in his and gives it to our driver as I’m still searching through mine. Then our driver says, “I see a 10,000” and for a split second my higher brain functions must have been on a break or they were drunk too because I said, “Where?” and I opened my wallet wider. Our driver very quickly snatches something from my wallet and as I’m trying to process that he just took something from my wallet, he shows us a 10,000 Dong note in his hand, saying “See! See!” As I inspect the bill he has in his hand, I notice it is torn and very dirty. It’s the kind of bill you find under the couch cushions after months of rolling around whatever other things you’ve lost down there. Although I wasn’t smart enough at the time to close my wallet and look through it away from him, I was smart enough to realize there’s no way in hell that 10,000 Dong note was mine. So, I look around our driver’s backside and unfortunately for him he ALMOST had pulled it off except that my clean, ATM fresh, 200,000 Dong note was sticking out of his back pocket. I swiped for it, it fell to the ground and then I yelled, “I’m not f*cking paying you!” I began to walk off in the direction of my hostel as I said “Good-bye” to Darryl. At this point our driver was infuriated, not only did he not manage to steal the 200,000 Dong from a drunk tourist but he also wasn’t being paid the price we initially agreed upon. He starts screaming in English “F*ck you, motherf*cker! Pay me!” and I continue walking in the other direction and say “This dude is crazy, I’ll see you tomorrow, Darryl!”
Then, suddenly our driver goes and picks up a brick and starts walking towards me. There’s no else on the street except me, our driver and Darryl. The driver is between me and Darryl and I’d say there’s about 50 meters distance between each of us. The driver probably realized that he wouldn’t catch me if he tried to run at me with the full brick, so he threw it on the ground and started throwing pieces of it at me. This does not stop me from continuing to walk in the other direction while shouting to Darryl about contacting each other tomorrow. After a few of the brick pieces whizzed by me, our driver finally hit me with one in the ankle and I kid you not, that set me off. I started marching back towards our driver with a rage, I’d only felt a few times in my life. Then, I said “Ok motherf*cker! You want to fight?!!!” I started running in his direction. A quick calculation by our driver probably figured that he was maximum 55kg and even if Darryl didn’t get involved, I easily had another 45kg on him. We were also the only people on the street, he got back on his motorbike and drove off. I stopped running and went back to my hostel.
The next day, I messaged Darryl and some of the other people we both got to know the night before. I never got back a single message from any of them. Needless to say, I think I scared them off. This isn’t to say that anyone was wrong for any of their reactions, not mine, not Darryl’s, not the driver’s. It’s to say that things like that happen in travel in general. Experiences good and bad that none of the parties involved, expected. While my only “attack” during my travels wasn’t ideal, it is a story that I’ll always remember. Even with a negative experience, Hoi An is my favorite city in Southeast Asia. The next two days, I met a group of people that I spent amazing time with and some who I am good friends with, talk to and visit from time to time. To be honest, that’s really what made Hoi An magical for me. Forget the beaches, the bars, the Old Town, the clothes…it was the people I met and the time that I spent with them made Hoi An special for me. Shout out to Eve and Mirthe, this was a very special time in my life and for that I’ll always be grateful. I’m grateful for your guys’ friendship. Hope to see you guys soon!
Join us on our next trip to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. Watch us LIVE on Wednesday, 13th of January at 4pm on Instagram and don’t forget to follow us.
Stay safe and see you soon,
The Sojoourn Team