The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vietnamese Menu--Foreigner Menu

I went to the supermarket today in Phan Thiet for lunch. They have a food court on the third floor. I don't usually eat there because the food's not very good. I wanted something different today though. After I finished my fried rice, BBQ chicken, sour soup and fried bamboo, I went to the "Tra Sua Tren Trau" drink stand to get a Bubble Tea drink. The waiter in broken english shoved an English menu in my face. Whenever I see English menus, I always immediately look for one in Vietnamese. They didn't want me to look at it. Sure enough, there was a Vietnamese menu on the counter--and all the drinks were about 5000VND cheaper. I was infuriated. It's not like I don't know foreigners nearly always pay more anyway. But its been a long time since I've seen two menu's--one for foreigners and one for viets--here in Phan Thiet. The last ones I saw were at the seafood restaurants on Phan Thiet's Doi Duong beach 4 years ago.

Occasionally I see this when I check hotels for guidebooks. The government-owned Saigon Tourist hotels (IE "Saigon-Mui Ne" and Saigon-Quy Nhon) often post one price for English-speakers and a much cheaper price for Vietnamese speakers. The hotels owned by the Vietnamese (and Viet-Russian) oil companies do likewise. Once a hotel accidentally even gave me their price list with separate prices for Vietnamese, Thai and "Other." I despise these institutional separate price systems. Its very demeaning.

So after I scolded the staff at the tea stand, I marched down to the manager's office at the supermarket. He was a very nice man. He assured me he wasn't aware they were doing that, and did not approve. He said the whole point of the supermarket was to establish standard prices for everyone, and he assured me his would go speak with them and tell them they needed to change their menus. I believe him. I hope people learn a lesson and this kind of thing stops. I don't want to see it creeping back up in Phan Thiet.

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