Highbrow hawker

On our travels, I’ve gotten used to people trying to sell me all manner of things I usually don’t want: transport, massage, tickets, tours, dinner, cold drinks, cigarettes, lighters, marijuana, jewelry, Chinese fans, t-shirts, crafts, sunglasses, belts…

But I have to admit I was taken aback on my first night in Saigon when I saw women (mostly women), often in pajamas, going from restaurant to restaurant with improbably high stacks of books balanced gingerly on their hips. Books! I could hardly believe it. It was like we’d stumbled upon some alternate universe of highbrow hawkers.

Woman in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) with a stack of counterfeit books for sale

And the selection of books is not half bad either. An array of Lonely Planets, your standard travel reading fare, a few classics, and some local history options. It was only later that I discovered they’re all counterfeit! The covers are glossy and look genuine from a distance, but inside they’re photocopies. We wanted to pick one up, more as a souvenir than anything else. And maybe to read. So we got Life of Pi for $3. Sorry Yann, we owe ya $15.

A look inside a clearly photocopied copy of 'Life of Pi' purchased Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

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