Live from Hanoi

We’re so far behind any chance of catching up on what we’ve been doing that I think it may be okay to just skip ahead to where we are right now.

What Was I Thinking?

Posting live from Hanoi Vietnam. I’m writing this poolside. The water is wonderful. Though I can literally swim into sun heated pockets of water.

11:00 a.m. Sheraton Hanoi – 29 degrees, feels like 43 with 92% humidity

Don’t be jealous. I don’t think it’s going to be refreshing in an hour or so.

I intentionally chose mostly tropical climates for this round the world trip. I must have been pretty chilly at the time. We may have to rethink the route!

Getting You a Little Up to Speed

After one more day in Tokyo, we landed at the Hanoi airport last night around 9:30. . To think I was overwhelmed by Tokyo subways… Hanoi taxis is really where all the action is.

The Visa on Arrival system went without a hitch. $25 stamping fee for each of us and we were in. And Customs went smoothly. As soon as we exited the terminal,  official looking men offered us shuttle rides to the hotel.

I’d read dozens of warnings about taxi scams in Vietnam. Some unknowing tourists get into a fake cab with a great flat fare to the hotel zone. And upon arrival are forced to pay millions of dong to be set free from the locked backseat. Speedy fare meters. Indirect loopy routes. Exorbitant flat fares. Etc…

We breezed past the fake touts to the official taxi area. Though there was nothing official looking about it. No manager. And none of the green ‘Mai Linh’ taxis that I was looking for who would transfer all five of us in the same vehicle.

I was armed with information. About 360,000 dong for a seven seater one way to the Old Quarter. Take the Mai Linh green taxis. They’re metered. They even take credit cards so no need to withdraw dong yet.

After several minutes with no green seven seaters and numerous people waving us across the taxi lane barrier, we finally accepted a ride from a non-green seven seater taxi from the official lane.

With my guard up already, I heard the driver say five million dong. Rob thought he said ‘five minutes’. Anyway, I argued with the driver and he agreed to use the meter. Rob got into the front seat, lest we get locked in. The driver wouldn’t pull over and let us out when he told us there was no Visa payment (although there was a sticker in the window beside his licence info).. We pulled out the tablet, opened up the map app and pretended we knew where he was driving us. Though there was no GPS reception.

I watched the meter carefully and started tracking landmarks. I was relieved to see signs for the Old Quarter. And more so when the driver pulled off that exit. Several more minutes and we arrived with a meter reading 367,000 dong. Though that was turned off when I glanced away.

The driver finally pulled out a Visa swipe and promptly entered 3,000,000 dong. I guess he figured I wouldn’t notice the entra zero and appreciate the discount. I refused many attempts to swindle. At one point he handed me the phone/Visa swipe thing and once I entered the correct amount he took it back, added an extra zero and inserted my credit card. I can’t figure out who falls for this stuff.

Finally, he just rounded up to 380,000 dong and I just gave up.

I tried to pay but the stupid swipe wouldn’t work. Damn, I’ve got no dong!

I consulted my cheat sheet in the dim light:

361,404 dong = $20

I offered him $20 US. He graciously accepted and thanked me too enthusiastically.

I awoke at 3 a.m. With that stupid feeling of being taken advantage of. A quick google search reminded me that I made my cheat sheet in Canadian dollars.

Damn! It was only a few extra bucks. But I hate to give anyone so dishonest anything extra.

Ah well. I’ve forgiven myself.

This is What You Get

So, I took the above photo with my iPad. I’ve read this old thing takes crappy photos. And so do I.

In the interest of timely updates, excuse my photography and accept this post as an update. If I wait for better photos, it will just go with the other draft posts.

As always, excuse the lack of brevity.

I’m melting. And thinking of you all.

Please leave a comment so I know someone is still reading.

xo, Colleen




10 Replies to “Live from Hanoi”

  1. We’re still reading with great interest…keep them coming-you may even inspire me to travel around the world-ok no you won’t! 🙂

  2. cheeky devil. Who would of thought that of someone from Hanoi! I would expect that from NY but Hanoi. Anyway good thing you are traveling with Rob. I am sure he would of swiped the million dong as I am sure I would have. Good catch.

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