bitch session

as a tourist, hawkers are part of daily life – some places are better and some places are worse, but they’re present wherever you go, and as an obvious westerner you’d better get used to being the proverbial “walking dollar sign”. to be fair, i generaly don’t begrudge them their attempts to sell me stuff – i understand this is their livelihood, and i am a prospective customer. and after a while, you learn to tune them out and turn them off with a variety of different methods, ranging from benign to outright rude. when i’m in a good mood, they might get a pleasant “no, thank you”, but in a less kindly one, i’ll turn my back on them and put up the palm of my hand (the international sign language for “talk to the hand”). given how effective that is, i assume it’s pretty offensive, but most of the time I just avoid eye contact and shake my head. there are, however, a few key ways to take me from nice to nasty in under sixty seconds: approach me while i’m in the middle of a meal, or grab me. either of those scenarios, and suddenly i don’t give a flying fig about fulfilling the stereotype of the “rude american” – i will get up in your face and make you sorry you ever bothered me. i also don’t respond to being yelled at from across the street, waved or snapped at like a dog, or repetition. you can call out “hey, hellloooo!” until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never get my attention that way.

the worst thing about it though, is how it makes you automatically suspicious of everyone. which sucks because it puts your guard up, and leaves you less open to people. it wears you down, man.

if this is turning into a bitch session, well i apologise, but it’s particularly annoying today. j and i had a spat this morning and decided to spend the afternoon each doing our own thing. no biggie, and i’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner, given that it was inevitable we’d get on each other’s nerves. so i did some shopping, had some lunch, and came down to the lake to write and read. since sitting down, two people have approached me to sell me books, one lady to sell me pineapple, one lady to sell me fans, one person came up behind me trying to read what i was writing over my shoulder (?!?), one lady spent 15 minutes harassing me for my soda can (which i refused to give her because a.) it wasn’t empty b.) she picked it up from my side to see if it was empty c.) on principle because she decided to try to wait me out), and one crazy guy came over, put his face inches from mine, then laughed when i told him to fuck off.

i just wanted to relax and enjoy the last afternoon in hanoi (before we get on yet another overnight bus). instead i am weary, irritated and peevish from being harrassed.

why can’t people just leave me be??

6 Responses to “bitch session”

  1. Stacey
    June 20th, 2006 12:14

    *snort* about the can lady! It is so wearing. Here’s another fun technique: I told a guy I hadn’t any cash with me (true at that moment), and he said, “Of course you have cash. You wouldn’t be out walking around without cash.” And that’s gonna get you some how??

  2. Dave
    June 20th, 2006 15:17

    HAHAHA!!!!! The image of you telling him off is priceless! (Hope he wasn’t TOO crazy :) )

  3. Jen
    June 21st, 2006 08:45

    sorry your comment didn’t show right away, s, (the word “cash” put it into the moderation queue). This morning was just ridiculous, though. We got off the bus after 12 hours, all bleary-eyed and knackered and were immediately assaulted by a bunch of hawkers trying to bring us to their hotel – which is par for the course. We walked away saying firm “NO” to everyone, only to attract *more* hawkers. At one point there were 4 people pestering us, at which point I said, “enough!! get the fuck away from me!!”

    It was really wayyyy to much to deal with.

  4. Amity
    June 21st, 2006 09:12

    Thank god for the F word, eh? I don’t know how we survived without it for all those years.

  5. Stacey
    June 21st, 2006 12:46

    what, you mean up until we were 12?

  6. Nicole
    June 23rd, 2006 10:52


    I know what you mean. In Istanbul we just wanted to walk down the street and we would be attacked.

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