I’ve arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, after a 4 hour flight from Shanghai (on Shanghai Air). The airport was small and nothing special except that just about everybody outside the airport was trying to rip me off.
Once I’d gotten outside, a swarm of taxi drivers came over to me and asked if I needed a ride. I tried to look for an offical taxi queue, but none existed so I picked a random guy and asked him to use a meter. Of course, he said yes. That was until we started walking over to his car (which was in the middle of nowhere), at which point he asked for $10 USD (which would be 160,000 VND) for the drive. Agast, I started to walk away saying I don’t have any USD (which was true), and that I’d pay him in either dong that I’d gotten at the ATM or leave. He asked for 150,000 VND, also an outragous price. I haggled with him down to 100,000 VND not really wanting to argue any more. The whole time he maintained that he’d run the meter.
And true to his word, he did run the meter, until about half way thru the ride at which time he turned it off and complained how I was cheating him (him: “America so much money, Vietnam no money!”, me: “I work in China!”). During the ride, he asked me if I had a hotel room reserved (I did) and he said I should try this other place and he tried to hand me a brochure. I nearly lost my cool and told me to take me to my hotel or drop me off. I think sensing the threat (or being used to this type of exchange), he became quite and drove me to my hotel (Libery 4 at 265 Pham Ngu Lao Street).
And now I’m at an internet cafe (100vnd/minute) right next to the hotel. The street is a backpackers area, full of internet cafes and street vendors selling stuff I have yet to explore. I’m about to head out, get some water and pass out since I need to pick up Ami tomorrow (today) from the airport.