Asia Travel: Expect the Unexpected in Vietnam! by

Journal Notes

Vietnam. It's a place where many people go to get a real cultural experience - one like no other - for a cost that leaves the bank manager smiling. It's a place where your senses are tricked into a binge of sights, smells, tastes and sounds, overruling your valuable and guiding instinct to a point where you are thoroughly exhausted from the experience. Your ability to choose your best path becomes blurred. I have vivid memory of one such experience on a journey into the realms of Asia, and some wisdom for those budding Asia adventurers out there.

I departed for a South East Asia adventure from Australia, landing in Saigon (or Ho-Chi-Minh City) after a flight via KL in Malaysia. Stepping from the plane into the terminal seemed fine, until I exited the building to be surrounded by hundreds (or at least it felt like it) of local Tuk-Tuk (cab) drivers bidding for my custom, to take me wherever I would go. Some would scream "I have best deal for you, Sir" and insistently offer to carry my luggage in the hope of securing me as a passenger. This creates a bit of a dilemma for the unwary traveller. Who do you trust? The fact I found is, you can't trust anyone except yourself. In situations like this, you learn to use your inner compass to guide you in making a decision that you feel comfortable with. Sure, sometimes it doesn't work and you end up paying for an expensive hotel in the middle of nowhere because your 'friendly' driver has deceived you, but in the end it is how you frame the situation you are in. All experiences are a lesson we can learn from. In the end you just get better at knowing who to count on - you get street smart. You find your instinct and learn to make good use of it in your travels, and have it work in unison with your overloaded and domineering senses. Asia turns from a daunting destination to adventure travel.

So, what happened to me standing outside that airport in Saigon? I got ripped off of course! I was more the wiser for the experience though, as I hope you will be upon completing this article. Enjoy the experience that is Asia. You won't regret your visit.

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