Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'and what do you sell?'

David is absolutely fascinated by the Vietnamese economy.  It all started in Hanoi which is staggering in the guild layout of the Old Quarter.  There are blocks which only sell one thing: shoes, towels, coffee, spices, welded metal, buddhist paraphernalia, pictures of Uncle Ho, you know all the basic necessities.  And more than that there are stores that only sell one thing, which I think is what sparked David's favorite new game to play while walking down the city streets...
'Hey what do you sell?,' his monologue begins.
'I sell rolls of foam.'
'I sell car batteries!'
'I sell used medical equipment.'
'I don't even know what I am selling, but I am selling something!"
This has gone on a number of times, it usually makes me laugh pretty hard.  But Dave is right, he sums it up by saying that every place is a shop, and that is true, everyone is selling something.  Today on our way over Hai Van Pass (ala Top Gear, picture Clarkson having his first moments of enjoying riding his motorbike) we stopped to take a photo and from out of nowhere an old man with a cleft lip, three teeth, and one eye missing appeared to sell us a map of Vietnam.  During our stop at the railroad crossing (where Clarkson poetically sums up vietnam in a touching monologue) it was a 12 year old kid selling postcards and begging loose change for his money collection.  And finally, the most impressive example of over the top salesmanship are the vulture ladies at the top of the pass who will not let you off without at least consuming a beverage and considering some pearl earrings.
Now we are in Hoi An, a city of colonial beauty and a shopaholics worst nightmare.  If you aren't shopping you must have your eyes closed. The Vietnamese are incredible sales people, they put the Israelis that sell that Dead Sea stuff in Mexico to shame.  It is exhausting and inspiring all at the same time.

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