Bye Cambodia, Hello Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 34 of 105 › view all entries
October 26th, 2009 – by: louietravels
Luckily I awoke naturally at sunrise and was up in time to catch my bus to Ho Chi Minh City ($7). The air-con bus gave relief to the humidity which hung in the air but soon became unpleasant as it turned cold. A jumper was required, this being the first time I have worn one. The bus had this incredible smell to it, I don't know what it was but it was nice. Three Aussie's were sitting near me on the bus, heading back to Ho Chi Minh to catch cheaper flights to Australia. There was lots of space and i had a row of seats to myself so I could spread out. I planned up trip ahead through much reading until we came to a spot where we had to cross the river by ferry. It was the last chance to spend the Cambodian reel i had with me and locals flocked to the buses side before the ferry departed; trying to sell fruits, sunglasses, and unrecognizable foods. The waffles caught my eye. I bought two big ones, costing me 4000reel/$1. I then realized how easy it was to barter with these people given our position. So i bought strange fruits and more waffles at half what they initially asked. I simple placed the money against the window so that they could see how much i would spend, they shook their heads naturally at first, but you simply turn away and moments later they tap on your window agreeing to the amount. We exchanged food and money through the window. A bargain breakfast. Due to me already having the Visa, it was simple and quick to get through into Vietnam. I slept until our entry into Ho Chi Minh City. It is a big city but different from those i have seen in Thailand and Cambodia. It has a different feel to it. As I stepped off the bus, I avoided the load of drivers vying for our attention and sale. The mere shake of my head was respected and I didn't receive any continual pressure to take them up on their offer. This was different. I drew some money, $1 is 18000dong. 1pound is 26000d. So i withdrew a million. I approached a metered taxi, thinking this will be the best bet as I didn't know the distances to where i wanted to go so I was cautious that i would be overcharged by a moto. As soon as i got in and we headed off i knew he was having me on. 10,000d starting fee and within two minutes it had jumped to 50,000, approaching $3. I started off kind. "The cost is too much, can you pull over and let me out". He ignored me. I eventually got a response but all it was was "No i take you, 10minutes. Taxi company, it's Okay". I asked again and again but he continued driving. It hit 100,000d. Already a tenth of what i withdrew from the ATM. He wouldn't listen so once the taxi had to stop because of traffic, I opened the door and made to get out but he wouldn't let me and was being belligerent that i pay. $10. Bullshit. My first experience in Vietnam. I wasn't going to give him any Vietnam Dong as i had only two 500,000 notes. He wasn't going to give change and anyway, i wasn't thinking of paying him. But he was being persistent, his hand grabbing my bag by its strap. I had no clue what he was thinking. How he would react. But I was slightly angry, and told him he was trying to extort me. He said he could take me to the police. I wasn't going anywhere further. He wasn't letting me go so I chucked a $5 note, the smallest currency i had and made off. Onto a moto, back to reasonable prices. 15000d for 5minutes. So i had been ripped off. I read that it would happen sooner or later, but i didn't expect it to be so soon. Anyway, what's done is done and I wondered about, comparing prices of guesthouses. I had time on my hand now so what started at $10 a night, with staff owners telling me that you cannot get cheaper in the city, came down to $5 with no internet to $4 with free internet. Mammoth stair case to climb to reach the dormitory, making my body drip with sweat but a nice room so all's good. Booked a 2day/1night home-stay trip into the Mekong Delta for $22 leaving tomorrow. So much choice so it is a bit of a gamble. And the higher-end options are way out of my budget. And unfortunately doing it independently (as i enjoy) is difficult, rather hit and miss and turns out being more expensive according to many guides and travelers. Walking through the streets I am hardly pressurized at all, unlike last night when i was followed by a tuktuk driver who moonlights as a pimp and dealer and was adamant that i wanted drugs and was going to buy them from him. Ha. No chance. I bought a baguette filled with different kinds of meat. Hopefully not any dog. But it tasted good, filled a hole in my stomach and cost 10,000d. I walked through a little green patch in the city where people played odd games old men stretched and practiced meditation.
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