June 24, 2010
there are no tuk-tuks in Vietnam but the taxis are metered so it is not required to negotiate the cost up front. however, when i grab a taxi from the mausoleum complex i get a block and see the taxi driver has started the meter at 100,000 dong [$5] instead of 10,000 [50 cents] and i tell him to reset it or pull over. this doesn't end well for him. i get out against his protests and i am in front of the Dutch embassy. the guards don't speak English but i gesture wildly and the taxi leaves. i hope all fraudulent taxi drivers burn in hell for all eternity. really.
there is a feeling among some travelers that the lonely planet writers are fear mongers because the guides are constantly warning about all the ways you will get scammed. after the bad taxi i become frozen by the fear of being ripped off and it makes for a bad afternoon of hunting Hanoi in the heat of the afternoon for a decent hotel and tour office to book a trip to Halong Bay. hang in there with me for just a minute as the day turns out quite good.
i get my admin [that's what we call our travel booking, laundry, blogging, email, skype or other chores] done and head over the Tamarind Cafe for dinner. here i have dinner with two Australians and two Kiwis and we laugh and swap travel stories late into the evening. the Australians are also booked for a Halong Bay trip and it sounds like we may be on the same boat but there are so many boats that we can't be sure. off to bed for a good night sleep with just a little bit of trepidation about the quality of the boat and tour of Halong Bay.