Delivering Wow, Sharing Happiness
Today marks my final day in Vietnam...
What an adventure it's been. On just one journey, I have never felt so euphoric. so cultured and so sad at the same time.
There was no time in the morning to do any last minute wandering around Hanoi, as I had originally planned. By the time I got myself ready, my bags ready... had breakfast… it was pretty much time to book my airport shuttle. Ride took about 40 minutes and got me there just as my check-in desk opened, so good thing that I didn't spend anytime fluffing around the markets of Hanoi, spending all my money, or that might have left me here, high & dry! I always worry about running late, due to the silly security checks. Airport security is my most absolute abhorred thing about flying... that and waiting for luggage after you've arrived. I hate the security lineups... even when there aren’t lineups, they still make you go through those ridiculous rows of queue maze. The intimidation of it all is too overwhelming. I get flooded with anxiety and stress... you never know what to expect.
Some places you have to remove your shoes.
Some places you have to remove your rings.
In Vancouver, they took my Redbull and threw it in the garbage.
In Ho Chi Minh City, they laughed at my trying to guzzle my water because they didn’t care if I brought liquid on the plane.
Beijing almost confiscated my battery charger, thinking it was a memory drive. Why would they want my memory drive?
Who knows what they’ll suddenly find in your bags that they don’t like! Other than that, everything went smoothly. As soon as I arrived at HCMC airport, I found the luggage storage area and checked my two bags in for a few hours. They charged about $15 per bag and I figure that I would have paid double for the peace of mind, knowing they were safe (fingers crossed)... and omitting the hassle of not carrying them around the city. I kept stressing to the girl behind the counter, "You're open 24 hours? You'll be open tonight? You're going to be here when I get back?"
She assured me a million times that she would. From there I went to catch a taxi...
Well this pirate of a taxi asshole must have seen me coming from miles away and mistook me for ignorant and simple. I can usually claim those characteristics on most other days, but on my last day in Vietnam... no way, Jose. I needed a taxi in to the city and he was more than willing to accompany me right up to his taxi and agreed to take me anywhere I needed to go in the city. I have to admit, I was warned about taxi scams and told which taxis to take and which to steer clear of… but it just didn’t cross my mind because he told me the payment would work dependant on what the metre read. Seemed legit.
Maybe I am ignorant and simple?
I'm certainly backing myself in to that corner! I'm actually working myself up to be mad again, as I type this out!
When we arrived at Ben Thanh market, I noticed the metre read 70k dong, so I went to hand him 200k.
"No! No! 700k."
700,000 translates to about $40 Canadian... and although it might sound correct for a taxi in Canada, it is hardly what a taxi in Vietnam costs. I could have paid for a weeks accommodation with that and he knew it. To put it mildly, I lost my shit. Right there, in then middle of the round-about, we had a full on fight. I refused to pay that amount and he went about trying to explain to me why taxis are so much more in Ho Chi Minh City. Bull. What I should have done is take a picture of his displayed taxi license and told him to alert the police. He would have backed down immediately because what he was doing was illegal. But I forgot that part in my rage. Finally I threw him 300k, told him that he was the most horrible person I'd met in Vietnam, got out, slammed the door and took off in to the market. LIVID. This was the first time I had deliberately been ripped off and knew it was happening... besides the crook concierge at the hotel yesterday. After that, there was no holds barred. I wasn’t taking any shit from anyone in the market. I was out for a deal and whether I did or didn’t get it for all of my last minute purchases, at least I felt fairly confident that I didn’t get completely bamboozled.
I met Emily and her husband for dinner right near the market at a place called Pizza 4p. It was directly across the street and be damned if I could find it. I must have walked by it about 10 times before I stopped in to a tour company and asked the girls sitting at their desks.
Little embarrassing when they point next door...
Emily had sent me the website the night prior, so I had already picked out everything I wanted. Four cheese fondue to start and a Salmon sashimi pizza for my main. I reconsidered my decision though, as soon as I sat back and thought of the disturbing consequences that those dinner choices might have on my body... on a 21.5 hour plane ride. Don't applaud me too much for being so brilliant.
I changed my mind to a Caprese salad to start... and then to half 5 cheese / half sashimi pizza. It looked so enticing... and it was recommended... and come to think of it, I've survived much richer foods prior to departures. I'd be fine! Let's throw caution to the wine...
After all, this place was delivering wow... and sharing happiness?
What could possibly go wrong?
Did I mention that one of the cheeses on the pizza was Blue Cheese?
Can you sense the negative foreshadowing yet?
Their food was heavenly... and not a smidge of rice to be seen! The company was fabulous and it was nice to actually sit down with a familiar face! After we had said our goodbyes, I wandered off in to the streets to see what I could find to keep me occupied for a few hours before I headed back to the airport. I got a crappy foot rub from a young kid with a bit red zit on his nose. He couldn’t have been more than 19 or 20. Filled some time. And cheap.
Quick mention that Ho Chi Minh City is no exception to the rule when it comes to adhering to everything the mopeds want... and a prime example in the fact that pedestrians have no right of way. Look at them just pulling up and parking on the sidewalk! We are literally pushed out on the road to walk, where we ultimately end up dodging and weaving even more mopeds.
Life in danger.
After a few more markets and a couple more wine breaks, I bid the city adieu and caught a taxi back to the airport. Before I got in this time though, I made sure that I knew approximately how much it would cost.
"150k dong. No more."
More like it. I told the taxi driver what the other taxi had tried to charge me and he couldn’t believe it.
I wish I could turn back time and punch some deserving people in the face.