Running out of money in Hanoi!

Modern banking makes life so much easier for the traveler. No more cash and traveler checks. It’s all cards and ATMs nowadays. As a sophisticated adventurer, my companions on this trip are an American Express card (30 years ago the only serious one, now useless for getting cash), a Visa card and a Master Card. As a poor Bansko farmer these cards are not in my name but in some company names and from different countries. So far so good.

This morning when I ventured out into the neighbourhood to have a coffee in an alley that slightly resembles old Paris I noticed that I was running short on Dong, the Vietnamese currency.

No problem, I said, as I knew there was an ATM on the way back. Here in Vietnam withdrawal limits are rather funny. Around 150€ is the max you can get. So, I stick my Master Card into the slot, enter my PIN as requested – and -shock – immediately get a response that my card is invalid and has been retained by the machine. In order to get it back I should contact the bank. Thank you, sir! The same card that recently gave me 500€ several times in Chiang Mai.

What’s the real reason behind this? Can it be that it is because the card was from Bulgaria? Last week Bulgaria hit the Vietnamese news for the first time ever. A group of Bulgarians was draining Vietnamese ATMs. Could this be the cause?

Sadly, I won’t be able to find out. As the card is not in my name and I have no proof that I am an official in the company the bank will not return the card to me. In other words: I am screwed till December. Let’s just hope that the Visa card will not face the same problem, since there are no ATMs in Asia that give you cash on an Amex card…

Fortunately, I am a hard-died customer, prepared for anything, and have wads of USD and EUR in my double-bottomed suitcase 🙂 Just in case 🙂 Can’t trust those banks. Worked for one of them long enough myself 🙂 …



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