Have you ever been robbed? I have been – twice actually. Once time I was robbed at gunpoint in Charlotte, NC. Another time I was robbed by 8 women in Nah Trang, Vietnam.
They weren’t black-belt, Kung-Fu, ninja-type women either. Nope, just the normal, kind of short, Asian-type women. Here’s how it happened.
Happy New Year!
But it wasn’t NYE/Dec 31st/Jan 1st, it was actually February 9th….2013 to be exact. It was the Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and the culmination of a week-long celebration based on the Lunar calendar.
The point is, HUGE party. Nha Trang is a beach town in southern Vietnam that is already renowned for it’s party atmosphere. My brother and I just happened to be there on the biggest day of the year by chance.
In Vietnam, there is a major backpacking circuit that all the travelers hit – and you either do it north to south, or south to north. Whichever way you choose to do it, one thing is for sure, you will bump into the same people again & again throughout the country. This is kind of fun, because when you see that crazy, half-drunk Australian bloke that you met 3 weeks ago in a new & different place, you feel like he is your best friend and are ready to take on the world together.
All travelers know that the only thing more dangerous than a party-loving Aussie is 2 of them, or in the case of this night, 10 of them. Originally meeting the Aussies on the HaLong Bay Castaway tour, we had been bumping into them all the way down Vietnam, and our latest rendevous in the party capital of Vietnam ON the (Lunar) New Year’s Eve spelled trouble.
DANGER CAN! DANGER CAN! DANGER CAN!
I don’t know if all Australians play this game or if it was just an inside joke thing – but here’s a step-by-step of how it works:
Step 1: Grab a can of beer *”Danger can, danger can” starting softly in the background*
Step 2: Shake up can of beer *Danger can, danger can!” growing stronger, more people chiming in*
Step 3: Take newly pressurized beer can & proceed to beat it against forehead *DANGER CAN! DANGER CAN! now everyone screaming, louder every time the can smashes against skull*
Step 4: Can explodes, soaking face & everyone nearby in foamy beer. The rest of beer is then chugged/shotgunned *DANGER CAAAANNNN!!! AHHHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!*
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4
We were all on the beach in front of the main strip of the city getting ready for all the fireworks, but watching Aussie bro’s play Danger Can was more entertaining than any fireworks could be.
I remember there were literally thousands of people on the beach engaging in similar-type shenanigans, the most beach-madness I’ve ever seen besides Copacabana during the World Cup.
“TOMMY BOY YOU LEGEND YOU,” screamed Aussie bro #6 to Aussie bro #2 aka Tom who had just finished his 3rd danger can in a row.
Tom, who was bent off with his hands on his knees & breathing heavily, suddenly stood upright, wiped his mouth off, & with a drenched Chang tanktop & slightly-crossed eyes said,
“Mate, enough of this danger shit I’m about to ralph everywhere – let’s sneak into this show!”
I was sure that my forehead & stomach felt significantly better than Tom’s, but even so, I too was ready for something new. Right then the sky lit up with a massive explosion, and we spun around to see that the fireworks had begun. After watching them for a few minutes, we all decided to try our luck & sneak into the massive concert that was taking place a few meters up the beach from us.
Somewhere during the process of trying to keep 15-20 people together, while half of them kept spinning around to see fireworks, and the other half were getting caught by security guards as we tried to squeeze through the fence-boundary of the concert area, my brother and I got separated. Our brilliant tactics of fooling the security guards – “You go offer him a beer while I make a run for it,” or “When the song ends you guys fake going in over there, while me & her somersault-dive behind the portapottys!” didn’t really help us stick together either.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t get into the concert. We still had a solid group (those of us who couldn’t get in) & I figured that the beach, with some of my friends & thousands of other people couldn’t be too bad.
Fast forward a few hours & beers
After finally leaving the beach, what remained of our crew decided to go continue the festivities in the bars. I wasn’t surprised to see two other English friends that we had met a few nights back. We chatted it up for a while, talking about how crazy the Lunar New Years was & where we were going next, then I realized that all my Australian buddies were gone.
“Will you walk us back to our hotel?” my friend Georgia asked.
“Yea sure, let’s go.” I answered. After all, it was late, I had lost my brother and all my friends, AND I’m a southern gentlemen. I wasn’t going to let these 2 English birds walk back to their hotel alone at night – that could be like, dangerous…ya know?
After protecting them all the way back to their hotel, we all went up and decided to party a little more. But after putting on some music & hanging out for a bit, it wasn’t long until both of them were nodding off to sleep.
“You can sleep here if you want. There’s extra blankets…” one of the girls told me, half unconscious
That’s ok. My hotel is pretty close. I’ll just walk back really quick, see y’all later.” I said after checking out the uncomfortable-looking floor covered with shoes, bathing-suits, make-up bags, & other girl stuff.
The Motorbike Taxi
I closed the door behind me, skipped down the stairs and out the door into the dark, finally-quiet Vietnamese street.
I turned right & walked down the desolate street for 3 minutes or so. “Damn – it was the other way,” I muttered and turned around. I passed their hotel & walked for a few more minutes and then realized that I was lost.
At that moment, a guy on a motorbike emerged out of the darkness, rode up on the sidewalk next to me & blurted “Motobike taxi?”
I had never been so relieved in my life. For those who haven’t been to Vietnam, people who have motorbikes will try to use them as a business from time to time by being a “motobike taxi,” offering rides to tourists, and making some quick money. This is quite common, and generally it is legit & safe, but the fact that it was about 5am & it was just me and this guy should have been a pretty solid indicator that this was not safe.
“Sure!” I said.
While we were deciding on a price (read: arguing over 50 cents), 2 more motorbikes with multiple women riding pulled up out of the darkness, and immediately started offering me sex. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested & continued haggling with the mototaxi man, dismissing their vulgar gestures & proposals.
Finally we decided on a price, I jumped on the back of the bike, and we sped off down the street, leaving the lonely intersection & prostitutes behind.
We were literally the only people out on the roads, but then about a minute later I noticed headlights behind us. All of a sudden there was a motorbike on each side, each with 3 women riding, classic SE Asia style. I started laughing when they started doing more dirty gestures, trying to get me to stop and change my mind.
NO! I DON’T WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU! I screamed at the bike in the left lane, laughing with the wind blowing in my face. Can’t these hookers take a clue?
Out of my peripheral vision, I noticed that a 3rd motorbike was riding behind us. Ok, something’s not right here.
One of the ladies from the motorbike in the right lane started screaming something in Vietnamese to us. I looked back & forth between my driver & the 3 women in the right lane, and it looked like my driver was getting angry.
All of a sudden, my motobike taxi came to a screeching halt, the driver turned around, screamed something in Vietnamese at me & pushed me off the back of the bike.
“HEY – WHAT THE HELL MAN?”
I watched him zooming away down the road, and noticed that my hotel was right down the road, but also that all 3 of the motorbikes with women had stopped, and were jumping off. They all approached me…
“Herro big boy. You want good time? Happy Hour – 2 for one! You make real gooood!“
Any sane/sober person in this scenario would have done 1 of 2 things:
2.) Prepare to fight & protect himself
So what did I do?
I looked at each one of them cooing & walking towards me, tilted my head back, opened my mouth & laughed as hard as I ever had in my life.
Why? I don’t know. I wasn’t scared at all. All of these women were like a foot shorter than me, and despite their numbers, didn’t intimidate me. Prostitution is obviously a sad subject in general, but you see it EVERYWHERE in SE Asia & I had become accustomed to it. I just couldn’t understand how 8 women wanted to get my business at the same time. Plus I was already at my hotel pretty much, so whatever.
“What do y’all want from me?” I laughed in their face, right as one lady stuck her hand straight in my crotch and all the others surrounded me & started grabbing all over me.
Woah, wait a second….
I looked down and realized that there were 2 women per arm, that were hugging my arms tight. All of them kept cooing, almost in unison.
I tried to shake the women lose, but they were clinging to me tight, keeping me from moving like the little Vietnamese she-devils they were. My adrenaline kicked in, and I started shaking my body back & forth, and finally broke free.
All the women scattered, and I frantically patted myself down but it was too late – my iPhone was gone.
“NO! Where’s my phone??? I’ll give you money!” I screamed frantically, searching for which of the fleeing women might have my phone. Most of them sped off on their motos while a few just stood in the road, blinking at me like nothing had happened.
I turned to run down the street after the motorcyles, but it was obviously no use. I screamed and threw my hands up in the air, as the sense of complete helplessness hit me. Feeling defeated, I dejectedly walked back to my hotel with the sun rising on my back, went upstairs to my room, & passed out on the bed.
Summary: Bummer, but could have been worse
The next day we went to the police department, filed a police report in English & Vietnamese, and ended up getting reimbursed through World Nomads travel insurance for the entire value of my phone a few months later. Sure I didn’t have a phone for the rest of my travels, and lost all of my recent photos/videos, but I have to look on the bright side.
What I did was stupid. Really, really stupid. I mean, I jumped on the back of a complete stranger’s motorcycle at 5am in Vietnam.
Really, it could have been much worse. I later talked to an Australian guy that worked at a local dive shop who told me that I was lucky. He told me that normally these “motorcycle gangs” normally take unsuspecting foreigners down dark alleys, beat the living crap out of them, rob them blind & leave them for dead. I gulped when he told me this, maybe I didn’t have it so bad.
Now, I didn’t write this post to scare you into not coming to Vietnam. Vietnam is an amazing country. And these type of motorbike crimes usually don’t happen. But the probability rises when you’re alone, drunk, & riding on stranger’s bikes at 5am.
I did write this post for 3 main reasons:
- For entertainment purposes – it’s kind of funny now
- To reinforce the old saying “looks can be deceiving”
- To specifically warn travelers who will be going to Nha Trang
I later found out that these type of attacks are quite common in Nha Trang. Groups of women have started working together to trick, attack, & rob unsuspecting foreigners like me. Before leaving the city, my brother and I spoke with at least 5 other people who were robbed as well.
By all means, go and visit Nha Trang! It’s a fun, beachside city with charming fishing villages, relaxing mud baths, some nice waterfalls, and a massive, anything-goes theme park on an island. Just avoid walking alone at night, do not take any motorbike taxis, and be wary of any groups of women.
Have you been to Nha Trang, Vietnam? Have you heard of any robbery in Nha Trang, Vietnam? Heard of any similar stories or experiences like this? There are always stories coming out of Nha Trang – good, bad, & ugly. Tell me about them in the comments below!