No news headline to comment on today as I want to share about my 1st visit to Ho Chi Minh City (HCM), Vietnam, after a missed opportunity many years ago.
Left Changhi Airport Terminal 2 late by 30 minutes and arrived at the new HCM International Airport just after 11.30pm.
The airport was in the same league as our Terminal 2 in my opinion and the Immigration Check Point reasonably efficient though the constant changing of queue by the passengers as they spotted any line that is shorter than theirs made interesting lazy watching!
I could not find the driver that was sent by the client to pick me up after spending 5-mins looking from the left to right and right to left outside the 'pick-me-up' zone just outside the custom clearance area (Perhaps this is one area that the airport authority can improve upon?). So, I went back inside and booked a taxi with the taxi/limo counter.
I got my receipt from the counter lady and was led to the taxi station where another uniformed person took over. To my surprise he waved me to go into a taxi with 3 other passengers! I said no to that while another agitated passenger in similar situation like me protested loudly that he liked his receipt back so that he can complain to the counter personnel inside the airport!
After another 10-15 mins of running around and urshering other passengers into their taxies, I finally got on board mine. I was happy and relieved that the uniformed guy did not throw away my receipt! ;-)
But I did not expect the next learning experience to commence with my taxi driver... He turned on the aircon and made for the exit where he asked me to pay the carpark fee. I informed him that I was told to pay the amount stated on the receipt and the rest is not really my business. He gave me a look and then pay up. He then turned OFF the aircon. It was hot inside the taxi. So, I asked him to turn on the aircon. He gave me another look and then turned on the aircon. After a while through hundreds of motorbikes and many tree-lined roads as we near the hotel. He dropped me off at the hotel which I noticed just passed the one I was supposed to stay in. I asked him if this is the hotel. He said: "Yes.'. Well, I knew it was not but there is no point to engage in any conversation as his language skill and mine are not matching. I got off and walked the 30m to the actual hotel and checked in.
It has been, to say the least, an interesting sidetrack from the airport to the hotel.
1. in a foreign land, not knowing the local language is not the best preparation to make life easier. So, if you don't know the local language, be mentally prepared for some strange encounters and experiences;
2. while one can be frustrated and get angry at the happening of this short journey, it will be better if you look at the situation and say: it is different. They have their reasons for doing what they are doing. Perhaps they are not ready yet to realize that when the price is posted and paid, there is all there is on offer. If the passengers want to pay an extra tip or what-not, it is really up to them;
3. keep an open mind when you are in a foreign land. Any experience from the airport to the hotel is NOT it. It is just a start. Give yourself more time and learn to protect yourself and learn to not get angry at some of the seemingly unreasonable and unprofessional conducts by some of the service providers. There are plenty more you will meet that will be different from these black sheeps or sheeps that have not seen the light!
I will enjoy my next 3-day stay as I had a wonderful dinner with Dr. Ngan who came to pick me up and showed me around the city. I am sure I will be meeting more Vietnameses like him.