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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

PERSISTENT PEDDLERS

HOI AN, VIETNAM

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

In third world travel, street vendors are the norm. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages, selling everything you can imagine from fresh fruit, hand woven baskets, and jewelry, to bug repellent. Performing a much needed service, the product comes to you, and the experience creates colorful memories of your journey away from home.

Most vendors, it is well known, will bargain for the price they will accept for their item. The more you are a tourist, and unaware of what an item is worth, the more they are able to charge. Some tourists think “It’s ok, it’s only five bucks, and I’m on holiday.” Others say “I don’t know how/don’t want to bargain, and it’s not very much anyway, -- I’m on vacation.” The vendors know this situation perfectly well, and are especially looking for YOU.

MOBILE EARLY MORNING VENDORS

 

Traveling full time for fourteen years, we are not tourists. Our style of viewing countries is to “get local” as soon as possible, know what something costs or is worth, and set up a domicile.

We then like to get to know the locals of any area, especially shop owners, restaurant owners, and any wait staff or service personnel. We have dealt with street vendors in countries from Mexico and the Caribbean, to Thailand, Bali, Laos, Burma, Vietnam, and China. Although there are similarities with all of them, the Hoi An vendors stood out as some of the more obnoxious ones we have encountered.


A typical Vietnamese selling technique is to come up to you right away, tell you their name, and to say, “I meet you first, you buy from me”. This goes for everything from tailoring to cut pineapple in a bag. Capitalism is fairly new in this Communist country, and skillful methods of selling and service are just now being learned. Some sell through their delightful personalities, filled with smiles and engaging jokes. Others sell through sheer will and persistence. Some, through sob stories that they have perfected long before we came across the scene, and it’s hard to separate what is going on from what one is supposed to do about it.

BEAUTIFUL SMILE, BOUNTIFUL CHOICES

This challenging mix of wanting to milk the tourist, with the actual need that is prevalent and obvious, is a hard combination to balance. The disparity between the fortunes of the visitors and the life of the locals is conspicuous.

 

On the beach, there is a beautiful hotel that charges $140 USD per night to stay. This is fairly reasonable as beachside resort hotels go, however, translated into Vietnamese Dong, it is over 2 million, for a single night. It is beyond any comprehension of money that the locals know. And they think that all the foreigners are staying there. So when they see you coming, they beg, whine and grab you, and won’t take no for an answer. The perception is that all foreigners have unlimited money, spend millions of Dong a day, and so therefore, 10,000 for this, and 30,000 for that is nothing to you. They will size you up, and add thousands of Dong or more to anything they sell.

In the picturesque town of Hoi An, the sense is that the tourist is here for a short period only, so the sellers feel that pressure of time. There is very little authentic interaction of any sort from most vendors. “You look Vietnamese. I like you. Buy from me.” Now Akaisha has been called many things, but it is a full stretch to say she looks Asian.

EVEN ON A PEACEFUL BOAT TRIP, THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!

This is a handsome, quaint town that has been overrun by their action. You cannot walk five feet from your hotel’s front door before you’re asked to “buy something” rent a bike, or hire a motorbike. And that’s before you hit the shopping streets. Once there, it’s a constant barrage of “come in and buy something”, which gets old fast.

We personally enjoyed our stay in Hoi An. It could be described as upscale tourist, with gouging included. If you look, you will find bargains, but it may tear your heart out in the meanwhile. The scenery and weather is beautiful, the envy of many countries, and the place is very clean.

Vietnam is a nation with an emerging economy. All things are up for grabs; giving decent service, what makes good quality, speaking English. There are lots of opportunities mixed in with the “other stuff” one has to put up with in this tourist destination.

If you are prepared for the onslaught of the sellers, where polite “ no thank you’s ” are completely ignored, Hoi An, with it’s spectacular beauty is your perfect destination.

HOTELS AND TRAVEL INFORMATION

NOTE: Since we were there in Jan. 2004, we have unconfirmed reports that street vendors have been curtailed.  Any confirmation would be appreciated.

For more stories and photos of Vietnam, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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