Hanoi taxi adventures
Since I take a taxi everyday, I am considering a little mini-blog like Tales from the Taxi or Hanoi Taxi Tales. Vietnam Taxi Chronicles? Hanoi Taxi Adventures? (What would you name it?) Anytime I step into one, there is always story. And I have to say that the taxi rides provide some of the most hair-raising experiences in this country. So here is my little story (x2)from today.
When I looked out the window this morning, the color of the sky was still grey. I’m not sure I really expected that it would change. It’s been grey for five months, why would it all of a sudden be blue? But the darkness of the grey made me look at the rooftop across the way. Wet. A rainy day. Lately, the rain is just a drizzle, like the weather gods simultaneously sticking their tongues out to spit on everyone. It is most unpleasant. In any sort of rain, it is a challenge to get a taxi. So I walked down to the Syrena shopping center where the parking lots usually host a few taxis waiting for their next fare.
When I walked up, there were actually still five in the parking lot. A bit odd at almost 8am. And they all looked at me. I said, “Taxi please?” And they all looked at each other. They didn’t know which driver was next in line for a fare. So three of the drivers shouted at me at the same time, “Taxi?” They wanted me to pick, but I know better than to get involved in that mess. So I just stood there and answered their question with a question, “Taxi?”
Finally one driver took the initiative and pulled up to me. I got in on the driver side door. Just as we turned right out the driveway and started going along the road, the driver stuck his right finger in his nose, picked around a bit and caught a booger. He rolled down the window with his left hand, stuck the gooey finger out the window crack and flicked. I actually leaned into the car, fearful the booger may fly back into the car and land in my hair or something.
The driver wasn’t phased a bit. For the rest of the drive I watched to see how many people I could catch picking their nose in the car or on their motorbike. I got grossed out at ten, half way through the 15 minute drive.
Fast forward to this evening. It’s Wednesday. And that is the American Idol & Glee night. And you know, I’m a geek and I love these shows. It’s a nice mid-week break and I do my best to be home by 7pm. Mette was planning to join me, so I agreed to pick up the pizza and wine on my way home. I had to first stop at the ATM which is at the Metropole just a block over. And instead of taking the “normal” route, a straight-away from point A to B, the driver decides that he’s going to go the long way through town and gain an extra 20,000 Dong (yup, still laughing at that stupid currency name). I asked him to turn left, not right, but as are most drivers, he was stubborn and wouldn’t listen and pretended he didn’t understand.
With lots of huff, puffs and grumbles from the back seat, he dropped me in front of the wine shop. I didn’t even have time to yell at him, I just wanted to BE home! Got my favorite bottle, picked up the pizza I called in ahead of time and walked like a crazy woman on crack in my high heels, trying desperately not to twist my ankle on the uneven street, down and around the corner and through the mud-filled street of Lane 31. I kicked my shoes off, picked them up and nearly sprinted up the stairs. Got inside, threw everything down on the dining table and turned the TV on. Just in time. Caught the final commercial before the show started.
Wine, pizza, my indulgent TV shows and my favorite friend. Today was a good Wednesday, even though the taxi drivers are completely and frustratingly clueless and pigheaded. Can’t wait for tomorrow!!!