Annoyances in Saigon

Living in Saigon isn’t all flowers and fuzzy bunnies. Sometimes there are annoyances as well. Overall though, there is no violence and it is very peaceful here. But I’d like to list some of the things that can be annoying.

1. Police raids on bars – Sometimes the police will enter a bar and all the lights turn on and music stops. The police are checking the liquor licenses to see if they have the right papers to sell hard alcohol. The beer and wine industries have tailored the law to favor them and it’s very difficult for the spirits companies. However, there is a demand for spirits, so sometimes bars sell them anyway. It is usually for spirits that reason the police raid bars. I experienced my first one during one of our darts league matches and the lights came on and two police came in. We continued play while the manager tried to get things sorted out. Our score keeper girls are provided for by Johnny Walker and they were also questioned.

2. Police raids on houses – Sometimes the police will come to a private residence in the middle of the night to check foreigner’s papers to see if they have overstayed their visa. This may sound strange and it’s never happened to me but I’ve also been told that the police in America do this as well in minority (Hispanic) neighborhoods to check for those who have overstayed their visas.

3. Passport to use the library – I was able to get in with my driver’s licenses but the girl asked for my passport when I tried to get in. I had also brought my Japanese kanji book to study and was told that you are not allowed to bring your own books to the library. I guess the reason is they have no security system there and thus can only verify that the books are theirs if nobody brings in their own books.

4. Electricity – There is a double standard in pricing between foreigners and Vietnamese. Health, utilities and other things are more expensive for foreigners because they have the ability to pay more. When I first heard this I was appalled, but when I thought about it, foreigners do make much more than Vietnamese so it is kind of fair and I think I would implement the same thing if I made the rules. Our electricity bill is outrageous though and I put off paying it for just under a month when some people came to my house and turned off our power. They simply flipped the switch and put a notice on our utility box. I had pondered just flipping the switch back on but thought this might be a bad idea. So I went and paid the bill and our power came back on.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/


  1. Utilities are not different prices for foreigners and Vietnamese. Your blog is very nice, but many inaccuracies!

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