Is there something special about Tom and Jerry that I do not know about? There seems to be an addiction to the cartoon here. As far as I know, they have not been made for years, but every day they are shown here. What is really confusing to me is that the Vietnamese people seem to be mesmerized by them. Not just the kids, but the adults as well. Right now I am watching my night man watching Tom and Gerry. I think if the phone rang he would not hear it. I experienced a similar thing in a bar and restaurant that a friend owns. He had installed a retractable roof so his newly purchased furniture would be protected during rain storms. A storm did hit and everybody was so involved in watching Tom and Gerry that the roof never was adjusted and for the rest of the day, no customers could seat themselves without getting wet.
I still intend do a story on bicycles soon, but for now let me tell you a little about Taxi’s in Vietnam and the problems that many
tourists can face with them. I will also address how to deal with them and save you a lot of hassle. The nature of the taxi business is such that it is that they are always struggling to get the customer before another. Once the customer is in the car, they try to be “helpful” in order to get tips, commissions, and any other add on they can profit from. In Vietnam, the same is true but it seems that they have taken this basic service to a whole different level. Taxis and the scams they may try to abuse you with can be a black mark on your vacation.
Firstly, to my amazement, it seems that most taxi drivers are from the north. I recognize the accent and have always wondered why that would be. Perhaps one day I will figure that out. Anyway, in travel forums and guides, you will read
about the constant problem of people being abused, and ripped off by Taxi drivers. This is one rare occasion where I have to agree with books such as the lonely planet guides. Taxis in Vietnam can be a nightmare. Once you have placed luggage in their trunk, you are at their mercy if something goes wrong. The last thing that you want is some hot headed individual to drive off with all of your possessions.
There are a number of legitimate cab companies that are usually a safe option for the tourist. The best are Vinasun and MaiLinh. Under normal circumstances they will be honest and will run by the meter. You can be reasonably assured that it is a legit cab if he or she is wearing a uniform with a tie. It is still a best practice to get the Taxi number whenever entering a taxi in Vietnam. If anything goes wrong, you can report it. If you are picked up
my on of the two companies mentioned and the driver is not wearing the white shirt and tie, there is a chance that it is a clone with a doctored meter. Try to be sure that the driver looks like he belongs. You will see other taxis that will confuse you painted in the same color scheme and worded slightly different such as ma-linh or Sunvina… avoid these. It is a hit and miss weather the meter has been altered. I tried an experiment in Saigon with two cabs. I hired a Vinasun taxi to take me to a restaurant. The fare was 28000 dong. When I left, I returned t the same location but took a Sunvina. The meter was altered and the fare came to 68000 dong. Some of the best practices in Vietnam when hiring a taxi are:
Use a reputable company and note the taxi number, then ask to use the meter. If you are negotiating a fare, be sure it is for the whole group. Sometimes they will say it was per person and the fight will begin. If you can, carry your luggage in the back seat and not in the trunk, that way at anytime if you believe you are being taken for a ride, you can insist to stop here and get out. All is not doom and gloom, but you should be
aware of the taxis trying to make a quick buck. In my experience, going by the meter with a reputable company is the best, and you can always keep them honest by pretending to refer to a map in your lap. Now here is the part where most tourists are scammed.
Most drivers have deals with hotels and attractions and will get a commission if they deliver a customer to them. On three separate occasions (that I know of) I have had hotel guests that were scooped by drivers trying to gain a few extra dongs. Some of my customers have been told that I was out of business, way to far from the city, not clean, in a bad neighborhood, and other excuses. Hah!!! Do not be gullible…. I myself have tired of the taxi driver. When in Saigon, I just take a bus. It is just as fast. In NhaTrang airport, I just ignore all the taxis, walk into the parking lot and hire a car that is willing to be honest. Airport taxis are notorious for being swindlers. I still use taxis on a regular basis as long as the meter is running and I am not getting any of their rasons to go to another hotel, but when I do, I throw the fear of Buddha into them by having them stop the car and telling them that they are being dishonest in my poor Vietnamese.