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Taxi cab lamentations

October 1, 2010

I love being taken on a ride. I love not having to pump gas. I love not having to personally deal with traffic. I love not having to pay attention to where I’m going.

But, I hate being taken for a ride. I hate not being able to tell someone where I want to go. I hate having to pay twice as much because someone accidentally went to the wrong place – on the other side of the city. I hate that I could yell at them all day, and it wouldn’t make any difference.

At first being taxied around was wonderful. Now it’s driving me insane. It will be easier once we know our way around the city and can point the driver in the right direction, but this will not keep them from trying to start at a light in third gear. It won’t keep them from driving 5 miles an hour for no particular reason (other than to make money.)

The iphone Jonathan bought me before we left has been a lifesaver simply because of the map with the little blue dot that tells you where in the world you are.

We looked at four more apartments today. Now I’m even more confused than ever. Two are in a luxury building – one stylish and comfortable on the 25th floor, but in an area that is more Western, next to a busy road, and less conducive to walking. The other two are in a more average apartment building, but surrounded by true Saigon neighborhoods with pho restaurants, ladies selling fruit out of the front of their homes, and streets so narrow you really should not drive a car down them (they still do of course.) We are both so torn.

I’m glad they quote prices in USD. I can’t imagine renting a place that cost anything with six zeros behind it ($800 is about 15,600,000VND.)

We will be moving to a different hotel tomorrow, right in downtown Saigon. Hopefully this will give us a different perspective and provide some clarity.

I’m excited to get settled into my first home with Jonathan (living amid boxes for three weeks didn’t count.) I couldn’t have picked a better move-to-the-other-side-of-the-world companion than him.

We toured the Reunification Palace today. Nothing has been changed there since Saigon fell in 1975. It was interesting and helped organize the jumbled pieces of Vietnam’s history that are rattling around in my head. My favorite part was the slightly creepy basement which doubled as a shelter and war central. There were rooms with huge maps, lists of soldiers, typewriters, telegraph machines, the first mobile phone, and many, many regular phones. This was all 3 meters below the ground, with a meter of concrete and five inches of steel protecting it.

Now it’s time to forage for food and enjoy our first Friday night in Saigon.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Israel Holby permalink
    October 1, 2010 15:40

    Shopping for apartments takes soooo much work! A few tips after going through this in a few strange Chinese cities.

    – Buy a paper map.
    – Identify important locations areas that you’d like to be near on the map and make proximate circles around them.
    – Make notes on the maps as you travel around and notice things or apartments you really do or don’t like.
    – Take photos of each apartment. The time stamp and photos will help you remember all the apartments and compare as they all start to blur together.
    – Ask what the realtor/middle man fee is before you indicate strong interest. Negotiate this fee early, the landlord pays half in many places.
    – Learn “left, right, stop go”
    – Use Google Earth’s “get directions” function before you even get into the cab and stop the driver as soon as he goes far off the course.

    Hope this helps!
    I want to go to Reunification Palace when I visit.

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