Ha Bai Trung street stretches for two kilometres through the heart of the city, past shopping malls, high-rise office buildings through to the historical centre of the city past the war museum and Reunification Palace. We decided to get out of the taxi at the end of the street and walk back towards town.
It was quieter here, the shops set up for locals as exquisite colourful Ao Dai, local traditional dresses hang in the window capturing our attention. We walked along slowly as we didn’t have to fight with motorbikes over space for the footpath like you have to in the heart of town. Cafés, restaurants, Coffee shops were spotted along the streets we stopped at a cafe decked out in a colonial building for a quick bite to eat, stomach content we wandered off down the street. Traffic built up motorbikes streamed by, cars sputted along. An array of smells drifted through the air that we had never smelt before. This was Ho Chi Minh, an assault on our sensories.
By now we were only a couple of blocks from the old centre, walking along the street out front of a petrol station, casually chatting away about how to approach crossing the upcoming intersection when from behind a motorbike crept up behind us, we were oblivious to what was to happen.
All of a sudden, my wife jumped up with shock as she screamed “my bag”. I realized what had happened, the motorbike now a few meters in front of us riding two abreast both wearing helmets had snatched her bag. My natural instincts kicked into play adrenalin flowing I started to chase them bellowing “you arsehole” from where I was I felt like I was gaining each step I took coming closer but like they had been teasing me the bike kicked into gear and accelerated only for me to watch it weave through the traffic.
Expecting tears, my wife shrieked excitedly “Chris, Chris, it’s ok, it’s ok there is nothing in it, only tissues”as my wife unbuttoned a pocket from her shirt and pulled out a wad of cash
By now the onlookers from the nearby hotel doormen were talking amongst themselves and shouted out to us. “Woohoo, no money, no money” I called back excitedly like a little boy on his birthday. We started laughing wondering what the person’s face would look like when they opened the bag. Would the driver had fallen off his bike in shock.
We were lucky we had done our research we had read that in Vietnam especially Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi that bags being snatched by people on motorbikes was a common thing in the country. That it happens most often outside a petrol station as the rider doesn’t have to worry about on going traffic as it is one of the few places where there is actually open space. We couldn’t prevent our bag from being snatched but we could prevent the loss of our valuables and the hassles that would have followed by having to go to banks to cancel our credit cards, go to two embassy or consulates which ever was in the country to get new passports and we didn’t have to stress about money.
My wife lost an old bag that was fifteen years old, the bag snatcher got him or herself a nice packet of tissues that they could use whenever they had a runny nose, all in all I would say we both won. Please before travelling research the country find out as much as you can about scams and petty crime so you can help prevent yourself from becoming a victim on people who prey on innocent travelers.
Have you had your bag snatched in your travels? We would love to hear about it if you have.