Taxi tales – 11

 

TAXI IN VIETNAM

 

On my arrival to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), the first thing that I saw at the airport was the poster below. One of the messages is written in Russian. That was encouraging and totally unexpected. In case everything goes wrong with my non-existent Vietnamese (I know literally 3 words) and if nobody speaks English, I can always try Russian. But it never came to that point where I needed any help. My friend met me outside and we hired a taxi to take us to her home.

 

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Russian message is : Transfer from the airport

 

At the stop, a supervisor called a cab and gave us a slip with a phone number and ID for this particular taxi. I asked my friend for the reason this happens. Apparently if we had any problems with this driver (disrespectful or overcharged), we can call and complain. This gives everybody great peace of mind.

 

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This is a good reliable company which always charges passengers according to the meter readings.

 

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This is such a girly colour. Hard to imagine this is a taxi.

 

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This strong red colour is for big boys. And probably goes faster like all red cars.

 

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This is also a taxi, but more like a chauffeur car. The price will be negotiated, meters are rarely used.

 

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Taxi services are very cheap and reliable – usually a couple of dollars. Only once we paid $15 for a 15 minute drive, but it was a special limousine service and we did not have any idea how far it was to get to our hotel in Danang. Looking back we probably paid 3 times more than normal taxi price.

 

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All the drivers are very nice and polite. Many of them are women. They don’t refuse to drive a passenger even if it’s just around the corner. Always well presented in an ironed shirt and with a  badge.

 

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Some taxis display prices on the outside, some put stickers on the inside but it’s pretty clear what the cost is. Sometimes, we paid about 70 US cents and received excellent service.

 

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This is the most reliable of all according to my friend. This company is Vietnam wide. We used them in Hoi An, Hoe, Saigon  and Danang.

 

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If you are not in a hurry or need to go close by, there’s always the option of hiring a velo riksha. All of them have to be registered and have ID number displayed. Price is negotiable.

 

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I personally was very uncomfortable for 2 reasons: 1. I felt like an invalid in the wheelchair 2. Due to my socialist upbringing, I don’t like exploiting other Homo Sapiens and that’s exactly how I felt for 2 hours. And that he cheated me in the end did not improve my mood. I am smiling in this photo,  because it’s just the beginning of my 2-hour useless uncomfortable trip.

 

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This is a very happy driver, even though he hasn’t scored a passenger yet.

 

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This is peak-hour traffic in Saigon. People mainly travel by motorbike or scooter. There are motorbike-taxis. Much cheaper and probably faster during the morning rush, as bikers are not too shy to avoid the pavement and footpaths.

 

And here is the pinnacle of my taxi story. On my departure day when everything was packed, all food eaten and my tears were wiped away, we finally went outside to get to the airport. We waited for the Suntaxi, because my friend preferred this company. A few minutes later, a car approached us and we jumped in. The driver, in his starchy white shirt and a big smile, put my backpack in the back and we left. With some language difficulties, we managed to communicate our final destination (I thought that 2 pretty foreign women with a large bag chirping very loud “Airport, Airport”  in 3 languages would go through a bit faster). Anyway, we managed to convince the driver to take us there. For some reason, he was hysterically waving his hands requested for me to put my handbag on the back seat. With some hesitation (mainly because I could not see the logic of this) and to my own surprise, I put it there. On arrival to the airport, the driver pulled to the curb at the very last parking spot, which was quite far from the doors. Straight away, he rushed to the boot and opened it. My friend asked him how much to pay, but he was already behind the car. I left the car first and followed him. Imagine my surprise when I see him pulling my bag with his right hand and taking my iPad out of the bag with his left. Speechless, I was watching him. Unaware that I was right behind him, the driver tried to push the iPad under the back seat and almost succeeded. Probably only about 5 cm was still visible, when I yelled at him. Looking back at me he was still trying to shove it under. I kept yelling at him and grabbed my bag from his hand. Quickly checked that other important items like my phone, wallet and passport were still inside. They were the main things I worried about, especially my passport. I also noticed that my backpack zip was half open as well. That fact did not worry me at all as I did not have anything important in there. He probably believed that while we were busy talking, he could get away with theft. When I’d finally found out about the loss on the other side of the customs, it would be too late. Plus, I wouldn’t have his details anyway.

Looking at quality of  the two photos below, you can see how badly shaken and furious I was taking photos of his numberplate and taxi number. But the interesting thing was that he did not even blush. Just closed the door and left.

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You can see how he pushed one seat down to get my bag. He tried to push the iPad through the gap under the left seat.

 

P.S.  We probably should’ve called the police, but being foreigners and with 1 hour to spare before my flight we didn’t. My friend wrote a complaint to the head office and attached these great photos later. I will post an update on any future developments.

 

Music: TAXI (Daniel Mastro Remix) – Thu Minh

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