Location: Hue, Vietnam
My time in Hue was short; I spent a little over 24 hours in the city before catching a bus down the coast to my next destination. When I arrived, the streets were packed with tour buses, flooded with Vietnamese families on vacation. There was barely any space to move on the waterfront because of the huge packs of people milling about. I found out that I’d come at the beginning of a Vietnamese holiday; there was a big festival in Hue all week. That sounded awesome until I realized it also meant nearly every hostel and hotel was completely booked out or had tripled its nightly prices.
As I walked through the streets, a bit overwhelmed by the heat, the mass flow of bodies, and the lack of accommodation options, a local on a motorbike rode up to me. He asked how much I was willing to pay for a room. When I told him I couldn’t do more than $15 (double my usual price), he shook his head at first. Then he whipped out his phone and made a couple calls, all the while following me on the sidewalk.
“Okay, I have hotel,” he said after a few minutes. I stopped, eyeing him. He didn’t seem particularly trustworthy and it was obvious he was working on commission from the hotel, but I’d already been walking around for over an hour and I wasn’t sure I was going to find anyplace else to go. I hopped on the back of his motorbike and he took me to a semi-shady-looking, mint-green hotel. The hotel staff didn’t/wouldn’t speak English, but I was able to negotiate for a private room with a lock. It felt a little safer.
That night, I went to the festival. I didn’t want to bring my whole wallet with me, so I stuffed it deep inside my backpack, hidden under several layers of clothing, toiletries, and electronics. In the morning, when I took it out to pay for the room, I found that someone had gone through my things and taken most of the money out of my wallet, only leaving about $20 worth of small bills. I did a search through the rest of my stuff; nothing else was missing. I was shocked, but unable to do anything. Who would I point fingers at? The hotel staff certainly wouldn’t respond to me and I’d locked my room up before I left. The culprit had stolen less than $100 so it wouldn’t be strange for anyone to have that amount of cash on them. And because they’d taken cash, it was almost entirely untraceable.
I was forced to just leave it and move on, my budget tightened just a bit.
Sketchy Hotel Room: $15
Stolen Money: $75
Always check the local holidays; don’t get stuck in a situation like mine!
- Don’t trust strangers on motorbikes who offer to find you cheap hotel rooms. Now that I’m re-reading that sentence, I know that’s probably common sense.