Pretty much as soon as I left Lac Quoi communications dropped off to such a low level that even a blind man could tell the relationship was over. When I got back to Australia and had access to my translation tools I sent a series of messages trying to explain that I was angry about the demands for money. I don't know if they were understood. I guess that I was trying to explain myself. The responses back were short and showed disinterest.
I also met up with my Vietnamese teacher, Mai. She had spoken to Phuc, before my final trip, acting as an interpreter for me. Now that things were over, Mai, confessed that she had doubts about Phuc but did not want to relay them to me. In her view Phuc had seemed too focussed on money and not enough on the realities of living in Australia. Also the eye problem had been discussed and the operation had been described as not very expensive. In comparison the $500USD that I had been asked for was expensive. Mai agreed that in stopping the relationship I had done the right thing.
Also I have been remembering conversations with others on Phu Quoc island. I have identified at least one person who appeared to be in on the scam as she was also urging me to give Phuc the money for the eye operation.
I formally ended any relationship with an SMS Text message. That may sound harsh or weak, but it was our best communication medium. We both used it a lot, sometimes when sitting together we would write out a text and show it to the other. It removed some communication difficulties.
In response to that message I had a reply "Would it help if I learnt English?" I responded that Language was not the problem. I have not heard from her again. (Update: I had a brief message shortly after writing that sentence. "I miss you honey". I have ignored it as I think it was a test to see if I would respond.)
|Phuc chose this over what I could offer.|
On the downside is the costs of 2 unexpected trips to Vietnam, disruption to my employer, and about $1,300 that has been scammed from me. Putting that in perspective, if I was dating a lady in Australia, I could have spent almost that much on dinners, weekends away, gifts and other attempts to woo her.
On the upside was 2 unexpected trips to Vietnam, holidays that I had not intended. A unique experience to learn a little bit about Vietnamese culture through the eyes of a Vietnamese family. I spent almost a week in the Mekong Delta, with a personal guide, living with a family, partaking in their daily life and seeing some local sights that few foreigners have access to. A travel agent would charge more than $1300 to put that package together.
I certainly don't feel that I have suffered a huge loss.
I am disappointed in the actions of Phuc, I wonder why she did it, I wonder what is going through her mind. I will never know. Was it a scam from the first night we met? Or did that come later?
Is she a professional and I am just another in a long line of fleeced tourists. I like to think not. She made a lot of mistakes in the first meeting that indicates she had not done this before. She didn't know about the strict hotel rules about foreigners not being allowed locals into their rooms for example. She was very honest about money that first time. However she was easy to get into bed, so I suspect that while she would not consider herself a prostitute, she was willing to hop into bed with a foreigner for money if the opportunity arose.
My guess is that sometime around my second visit, the thought occurred to her that she could siphon money from me. I was a target, I had been and gone, now I had come back and my level of interest was such that she could exploit that. Maybe someone got in her ear. That second trip we had some genuinely nice times that would be difficult to pull off unless you were an accomplished actress.
Maybe it was a honey trap all along. I will never know. But if it was the honey was sweet.
|The sun has set on a relationship and an adventure.|
Maybe I will visit Thailand in 2012 and make the same mistakes all over again.
The Bludger is undaunted.