That's right people, ever trusting, it will never happen to me Bec was very nearly robbed in the streets of Hanoi by a local pickpocket.
So we're walking along looking for Stamp Street, where the guys make all the stamps, and a guy selling postcards crosses the street and starts walking along next to us, holding a handfull of postcards. Paul is on my left, my cumpler bag (totally hard to open without the whole street hearing it) is hanging on my right side and next to that is an over enthusiastic guy trying to sell me postcards. I look at him politely, look down at his postcards, look back up and say no thank-you. He keeps walking along, a little close for comfort. This is irritating and down-right rude so I'm less interested in being polite to him now. He's fanning out the postcards, which are conveniently obscuring my bag from my view. He actually drops one, and I'm not sure if this is intentional, as I bend down to pick it up but he gets it himself. Maybe there was a team, and a second guy intended to get to my bag whilst I was distracted. If so it didn't work. So he picks up his postcard and keeps fanning.
Here's the lesson: any good tourist not interested in buying things off the street knows to look straight ahead and keep walking. Don't look at the item being sold or you've bought it. This is exactly what the pick pocket is after, he'll only need a second or two of a steadfast tourist glaring at the horizon to make off with their wallet.
BUT! Even though this guy is clearly an arsehole, I am oh-so polite that I glance down at his postcards once more, intending to say a firm no thank-you and quicken my pace. Looking down I notice his right arm is way far under the postcard canopy, he's in up to his elbow. I see this, and he sees that I see this, and in an 'oh shit' reflex he withdraws his arm way too quickly (novice) and I click. It took me a while but I got there. Paul also sees this and looks at me for confirmation. I nod, and Paul, my hero, jumps between me and the would-be theif, and with a protective hand on my shoulder, points at the guy and says go away. Meanwhile I'm checking my bag for wallet, iPod and SLR (hard to steal but I'm checking) . It's all there.
Clearly he his sprung, and this guy still tries to get in close and show us postcards. Three finger points from Paul and he concedes defeat and disappears. I only wish I had gotten all up in his face with finger pointing too, and words like police and theif and some internationally recognised swears. I also wish we had hassled him to the point of making a scene. Let his neighbours know he is a pickpocket. Tape a sign to his back. FOR SHAAAAAAME. But no, we just high-tailed out of there.
Lesson two: Crumpler bags kick arse. I think if I had any other bag at my side, this guy would have had an easier time getting in. My trusty crumpler, with its space-aged hardcore velcro, its clips and its super sturdy fabric, this guy should have known better.