First Trip - Asia- Thailand and Vietnam

Vietnam-Travelogue  |  Travel time: June / July 2011  |  by james konopliski

This was my first trip outside of North America, a four week, flexible itineary, with planned visits to a few on-line acquaintances as anchor points.

The unforseen ending part 1

Nha Trang "fairy mountain" with the beach and Tran Phu street in the foreground.

Nha Trang "fairy mountain" with the beach and Tran Phu street in the foreground.

The Thief

I was awakened from my slumber by the sound of what could only be described as "wrinkling plastic". I became conscious just in time to see the silhouette of a woman, dart past my hotel window in profile and vanish into the dark. The warm night breeze blew in through the curtains, and the still Nha trang night wrapped around me as I gazed out my window to investigate what I believed I had just witnessed.

As my consciousness strengthened, my mind suddenly zoomed seeming miles above my body to relay the big picture overview of what had just taken place, I had been robbed! I now snapped back into my body like a bungee jumper on rebound, my eyes then intuitively settled on the space recently occupied by my netbook and digital camera to find them gone, and along with them the visual record of what had to this moment, been the best time of my entire life.

The thief had worked long and hard as I slept, pulling accessories one by one from the small table almost 6 feet from the window, with a hook improvised from a coat hanger, which they left behind outside. They finished, with the grand prize of the netbook which they snared by the usb cable connecting it still to the camera, (as I was downloading photos before I retired). They would have accomplished their task undetected, were it not for the peeling plastic protective covering, still on the netbook lid, that awakened me with the crinkling sound it made as it rubbed against the bars of the window as the computer was being extracted from my room. I think it was preferable to actually, SEE, what happened, even if too late to prevent it, rather than awake to the aftermath, only to wonder, WHAT, had happened.

The thief had written the ending to my trip. I am a artist, a visual person, who experiences life in a frame by frame stream of visual and emotional consciousness. I now found myself stuck in a loop which played this fuzzy surreal scene over and over. My sensitivity became my weakness, and I simply could not rise out of the funk this whole event created, and was crippled in a practical sense by the loss of relatively easy internet access for research, communication, and bookings, as well us being unable to record and document any future experiences photographically. simply put, too much water had been thrown on the fire. time to go home.

According to my friend Hoa, a lifetime resident of Nha Trang, the average yearly income of a "poor" Vietnamese is 18 million VND, for a "middle" Vietnamese 60 million VND, and for a "upper" Vietnamese 600 million VND My 8 year old digital pocket camera can be had on e-bay for about 50 USD to 80 USD, and my 6 year old net book cost me 200 USD secondhand, so figure 280 USD or 5,800,000 VND actual loss. In these numbers lie a worthwhile story.

While not "street" value, these almost, by western standards, "disposable" goods, represent 1/3 the yearly income of a typical poor Vietnamese person, and just based on my limited experience there, I would say poor residents are not in short supply.

The motivation to steal is very great and discovery or punishment unlikely. Once summoned to the scene, the police were completely disinterested, much as they are here in my crime ridden northern California city. An interesting aside is that the hotel is a new first rate family run concern, with a completely secured ground floor which is locked down at 11PM, and no possible access from adjoining buildings. That fact, along with a lone hotel sandal left on the landing outside my room, made it clear that the thief was actually a staff or guest of the hotel. Hoa explained to me later that it is common in Vietnam for people to check into a hotel for a night for the expressed purpose of robbing other guests.

© james konopliski, 2011
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The trip
 
Details:
Start of journey: Jun 14, 2011
Duration: 5 weeks
End of journey: Jul 17, 2011
Travelled countries: Vietnam
The Author
 
james konopliski is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 8 years.
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