Pick Pocketed

So, I have been here more a week now.  Wow!  It has passed by soooo quickly.

Last night, I was going to spend some time writing a post on reflections of the week, but I got caught up in an adventure, and I’m going to write about that instead.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall asleep while writing this, so this might be posted later than I would like.

Here’s what happened yesterday.  In the morning, I went out with my coworker, Chi Linh, and some her friends.  We went to a lotus pond on the outskirts of Hanoi and pictures.  They were just beginning to bloom, so it was really nice to see them.

After I got home, I went to a clothing store with a fellow volunteer and finally bought myself a pair of shorts.  I didn’t bring any because I was told that the clothing was pretty conservative here and I couldn’t wear shorts to work anyway… but, I needed them.  We went to a nearby cafe and enjoyed some iced tea and chocolate cheesecake.  Yum.

When I finally got home, I got ready to upload the pictures that I took at the lotus pond.  I sat down on the couch and was just about to start when other volunteers entered the house.  One of my friends, John, had just come back from Ha Long Bay, and he looked as red as a tomato!  But, he was in a hurry to use the computer, which I sitting right next to.

He said that he just got pick pocketed on the bus and he didn’t have his phone.

So, he pulled up a GPS tracker for his phone and he showed a location somewhat nearby, and it wasn’t moving.  He asked if there was anyone that could take him there.

I went to get the only VPV staff member around, who only speaks Vietnamese.  I call him Anh Cuong.  I brought Anh Cuong to the computer and tried to explain that my friend had lost his phone and this is the location it has been tracked to.  Can he take my friend there?

Anh Cuong explained to me, which I had to explain to John, that the area where the phone has been tracked to has a lot of stores where someone could have sold his phone.  We would have no way to really find the phone without an actual address.

Eventually, the three of us were headed to the police station to file a report for theft / missing item.  I had to tag along because Anh Cuong doesn’t speak English and John doesn’t speak Vietnamese.

We initially went to the wrong police station because it wasn’t the closest station to where John lost his phone.

We eventually walk to the correct police station, where there were two officers in a very bare room.  There was just a desk at the back and a bench were people could sit.  We try to explain what happened, and of course, there were a lot of questions.

  • What happened?
    John had lost his phone.
  • Where did he lose it?
    He was on the 34 bus from Sword Lake to Cau Giay (which is far distance).
  • What time did he get on the bus?
    Around 5pm.
  • Who was he with?
    Two other friends.
  • What else happened?
    John was feeling faint and overheated, so he was probably not paying too much attention is someone pick pocketed him.  It might have fallen out his pocket.
  • What kind of phone is it?  What does it look like?
    White and gold iPhone 5, red and black case
  • Where was John from?  Does he speak Vietnamese?  What is he doing in Vietnam?

Because I was there, seemingly, just to be there, they had asked me all these questions too.

Who are you?  Are you his friend?  Are you his girlfriend?  Do you speak Vietnamese?  Where are you from?  Why don’t you speak Vietnamese that well?  Where is your family from?  How long have you been here?  Why you in Hanoi (I guess, versus South Vietnam, where my family is from?)?

Anh Cuong had to write the police report in Vietnamese and I was asking John the questions and translating back and forth.  It was a very hard task!

A lot of officers got involved too!  Like 7 other officers, telling John to track down his phone and asking us to repeat the story.  I think they were willing to help us so much because John is American.  Vietnamese people are very interested in foreigners!

And a plan was made.  We went to the location where the phone was tracked.  We pretended to buy an iPhone 5 and hoped that John could identify his phone.  We did that at many different shops for a while.

Of course, the search was fruitless.  I think we all knew it from the beginning.  We had tried to call John’s phone before we even left for the police station, but found it was turned off.  So, if the phone was moved, we would have no idea.  In addition, the first thing that would have happened to the phone in the hands of someone else would be a factory reset.   There was a very little chance that John would get back his phone in the same condition he lost it.

So, after a while, we went back to the police station.  Another VPV staff member, Chi Mai, had joined us by then and she became the translator from there.  We had to file another police report, though I don’t know why.  This time, in English, but there were more questions involved.

When all that was said and done, we went home.

I was sooooo hungry!!

Hahahah. That drama lasted from 6pm-ish to 10pm-ish.  We were sitting at the police station for a while.  It wasn’t unpleasant experience, except that I was hungry and then, I eventually got sleepy.

The police officers were nice.  They were helpful and some of them were charismatic.  It was a very interesting experience.  Had a lot of laughs because John was trying to speak Vietnamese, but he was just repeated ridiculous things that Chi Mai was saying.

It was quite an adventure.  I am glad it happened.

Afterwards, I went to get dinner with Anh Cuong and Chi Mai, and I feel like I bonded with them a little more. :)

Over and out.

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