Nothing is as it seems.
At least, nothing seems to be as it seems.
When our Tour Guide delivered his Magic act on the Boat In Halong harbour,making handkerchiefs disappear and eating razor blades, we thought he was pretty clever.
It turns out everyone in Vietnam is in the Magic Circle, or at least practices witch craft.
So as a tourist we need to keep this in mind at all times.
Here are some tips to make things easier.
One of the great ‘Illusions’ here is the:-
Vanishing Menu Item.
It work’s like this.
You go into a restaurant (or bar) and ask for the menu.
They give it to you and you chose an item. They then come back and say they have run out of that particular thing.
Now, that doesn’t sound particularly impressive I know, but when they do it in every restaurant and every bar over a 3 day period, you have to say, it’s amazing.
Jaki has become the Debbie McGhee of Hoi An.
She has developed an uncanny knack of picking every item on the menu that is not available.
This morning it was the ‘Strawberry milk shake.’ They had run out of Strawberries.
So she asked the waitress if the Coffee milk shake was available (knowing it wasn’t was the trick) to which she said: ‘yes it was’.
So, Jaki ordered that, and guess what, it wasn’t.
This evening she ordered the ‘Risotto’ (a particularly tricky dish to make as it involves cooking rice) which of course they didn’t have but she didn’t really want that anyway, she wanted the fish in banana leaf, which they did have. Double bluff.
This is particularly impressive when you go into a Restaurant that has an extensive Wine List. You spend ages pouring through, looking at prices, thinking about it Carbon Foot print only to be told they have run out of wine altogether.
A total show-stopper.
The other one we really like is the Vanishing Tourist Trick.
It works like this.
The Hotel (or even more interestingly Tourist Information) give’s you a map of the local area. They usually authenticate it by saying. “We are here” and putting a cross on the map roughly where they think we are.
They then send you off, say at night, in the pitch black to find ‘the night market’ with only the map as a guide.
What they don’t tell you until your three hundred yards away in the thick of the Maze is:-
1 The map isn’t to scale.
2 Only the main roads are shown.
3 Landmarks like bridges are often missing.
4 The writing is so small you cant read it.
This trick can be authenticated by asking the Tourist Information person to point out.
“Where are we now”?
Though this does spoil the whole thing as they very often have to admit they don’t know,. Then it’s no fun.
We particularly enjoyed this trick this morning when we set out on push bikes to find the beach, using the map supplied by our Hotel.
It suggested we travel straight until the road ended, then straight on at the junction until you hit the beach. Unfortunately the actual route required a left turn at the main road.
That must have been written in Invisible Ink as we ended up at a fisherman’s village some miles south of our intended venue. By which time Jaki had a sore Bum and an even worse temperament.
Another local Illusion is the Sell’s man’s pitch.
A particularly complicated mathematical conundrum.
So, I ask how much a pair of shoes are?
The sales lady says. “One million six hundred thousand Dong.”
I say. “Too much” and offer five hundred thousand dong.
She comes down, I go up and eventually there’s a meeting of mind’s.
However, in the final throw’s of this interchange, she throw’s in her curved ball.
The price has to be higher because, the shoes are ‘a bigger size’ so they cost more!
The Rubrics Cube of sales.
AS one of our all time great Magicians said. “Just like that”!