It should be odd that a communist country would have the most amazing capitalists I've ever seen.
It should be odd that communists would be such enthusiastic negotiators.
It should be odd that these people are interested in the price of everything. What did you pay for your shoes? Your hotel? Your soda?
But it's not odd. Not after a day or two in Vietnam. It becomes normal. The markets are stuffed with things to buy, and the prices are anything but fixed.
Yes, in Vietnam, capitalism is king. Or at least comrade.
I have often read about this market or that market being the biggest in
the world. Usually, they are big. But now I've seen the biggest. It's
It helps if you brush up on your French a little. Many people here, especially in the north, speak more French than English.
One time in Hue, we were looking for cheese to eat on our train journey to
Hanoi. No one knew what cheese was. Suddenly, out of the dark 6th grade
recesses of my brain, a solitary French word sprang.
||Even if you don't like to shop, you must go to the markets to watch people
and take pictures. The people enjoy having their pictures taken, and there are a lot
of characters to take pictures of.
In Vietnam, everything is for sale, and every price is negotiable. The price you pay for something is considered to be a measure of what kind of person you are.
It puts the tourist in a difficult position.
The best advice I saw was in a Moon guide:
|I did this a number of times.
When a group of women would want
say, 2000 dong for a bottled water I knew was 1500 at most, I'd offer 1000. They'd
say no, and I'd walk away. Eventually, some woman would run up and accept the 1000,
at which point, I'd give 1500.
I've done this in many countries since. Find the one guy or lady who's willing to earn a modest profit, then give them something closer to what the rest were asking.
The biggest problem is deciding what to buy, and who to buy from.
Which one of these people would you buy your cloth from?
Remember, though, buying doesn't close the issue. It only shows you have money to spend. Other sellers will try to get you to buy more for every person you know.