Police in Hanoi are investigating whether a local xich lo (cycle rickshaw) driver gave his two foreign passengers joss paper as change after taking them on a tour around the capital, as alleged in a viral social media post.
According to the video plus a lengthy caption posted on the Facebook account of Huu Phuc on Tuesday, the French tourists, a man and a woman, were given VND900,000 (US$39) worth of change after giving the cyclo driver VND1.5 million ($65) to pay for their VND600,000 ($26) ride.
The change consisted of one VND500,000 ($22) bill and two VND200,000 ($9), according to the Facebook post, which said the incident took place on July 13.
It was not until the following day, when they used these banknotes to pay taxicab fares, did the foreigners realize that what they got from the pedicab driver was not money, but ‘hell money,’ a kind of joss paper meant to be burned to provide the dead with ‘money’ in the afterlife.
The visitors looked disappointed and canceled their trip to Ha Long Bay – Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage site.
|One of the French tourists and the trishaw driver are seen in this picture posted on Facebook.|
They instead booked bus tickets at a passenger transport company for a ride to the mountainous tourist attraction of Sa Pa, about 320 kilometers from Hanoi, according to the person who published the video and claimed to work for the firm.
The man told news website VnExpress that the tourists did not want to have a probe into the supposed scam since they wished to spend a worry-free holiday in Vietnam.
The female visitor was unwilling to mention the case as she was very frightened by the apparent swindle, he added.
But Nguyen Van Chinh, identifying himself as the trishaw driver, flatly rejected the dishonest practice in an interview with news website Dan Tri.
Chinh, stunned by the accusation, said the passengers gave him the exact sum he charged them and a tip of VND200,000 ($9) – which they all agreed on before he took them on a ride along several famous streets in Hanoi.
“I’ve worked as a trishaw driver for three years but never have I done anything that is dishonest and makes my conscience prick me,” he was quoted by Dan Tri.
“My family and I have been adversely affected by the allegation.”
The 39-year-old would be ready to meet the foreigners to clarify the problem, he said.
However, he also admitted that the VND600,000 ($26) fee for his service was much higher than the average tricycle charge in Hanoi.
The case is under investigation.