Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honesty Is The Best Policy

(PICTURE: Vietnamese Dong. Everyone's a millionaire here)

Minutes ago I embarked on an adventure: Finding my neighborhood pho shop. At my "old" apartment I had a couple of great pho places that I frequented every morning. When Ryan and I looked at this new apartment the first thing I asked the landlord was, "Are there good pho stands nearby?" She responded, "Of course. Everybody loves pho." Well the other day Ryan and I went walking to find one and it took us about twenty minute before we came upon a shop. The pho was half decent but when the bill came we knew we'd never come come. The bill was 120,000 Dong for two phos and one fried rice. That's almost exactly 4Xs as much as any place I've been yet.

So this morning, solo, I went for a walk in the opposite direction. It took me only about two minutes before I found a street pho place where the soup was literally cooking on the sidewalk. There were three old ladies sitting around the ingredients and an ample amount of flies for me to know this place was legit. I took a seat, got my usual "why is this white person here" stares and ordered a steaming hot bowl of beef noodle soup.

On my pho scale I gave the soup a solid B+. However, it will be a long time before I go back to this particular stand. While I was finishing my soup I watched the only other patron pay. He handed over 15,000 Dong and went on his way (this is about the right price for pho although my favorite place is 12,000). After sucking down the rest of my broth and proceeding to sweat profusely because of the chili floating on the bottom, I got up to leave. I handed the money lady (one lady handles money, one lady handles pouring the broth, one lady handles cutting up the meat) a 50,000 Dong note and she gave me back only 30,000 Dong change. I asked her, "is that it" and she shook her head no and stared down at the ingredient table, refusing to make eye contact. I had clearly been ripped off by 5,000 Dong or roughly thirty eight cents. That's a lot of money out here. The moral of the story is this: if the lady had been honest she would have had a regular costumer for months on end. However, she wasn't and I'll be taking my business elsewhere.

In other news, I went to the Apple store yesterday and was told that "my file is very big." Come back this afternoon. In the afternoon I got this text message: "Hi Mr Benjamin August. I'm from Apple's istore 63 Kim Ma Str. Your hard disk drive got some changed to blue screen or got computer hanging problem while it is running. we will try but we are afraid that we can not keep the memory in your hard disk space. could you come back tomorrow afternoon?" Yeah, not looking so good....