Tourist Scam

One thing to be aware of when you’re visiting a foreign country is the possibility of getting scammed. I think when visiting a foreign place, sometimes we looked at things from a rose-colored perspective, expecting the best from the locals we meet and hoping that we would meet hospitable people. While that is certainly a good view to have (rather than the alternative), I think it is also important to be smart and watch for yourself, in case anyone unsuspecting tries to take advantage of the situation.

When we were in Bangkok, we encountered a possible scam near the Wat Pho temple and the Royal Palace. In Hanoi, I almost became a victim of another scam when we were walking around near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to take photos after our visit to the complex. Kristi and I walked near the open grass fields far away from the Mausoleum to take a panoramic view of the area. I guess the cameras gave it away that we were tourists. As I was taking photos, a young Vietnamese lady approached me, and started engaging me in a conversation in English. She introduced herself, and said that she’s a student currently studying to learn about other cultures. Her English was actually quite good. She asked me where I came from, and I told her that I was from Indonesia originally but I now live in the United States. She smiled, and we talked a little bit about the Ho Chi Minh Complex and Hanoi in general, but somehow at one point the conversation turned into her asking me if I could contribute some donations to a fund to help with her education. I was a bit surprised with that request, and politely said no. She smiled again, thanked me for my time, and left. What a bizarre experience…

The photo below was something that we observed from far away at Ba Dinh Square in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Several western tourists walked across the open grass field in front of the Mausoleum not knowing that they’re not supposed to do that, and that the entrance to the complex was actually elsewhere. They were stopped by a guard whose job was to watch the open field and prevent people from trespassing. That could be another way that you could get into trouble in a foreign country — not knowing what you can or cannot do.

Confused tourists