I arrived in the bustling city of Hanoi three days ago with my 50+ kilograms of luggage in tow. No problems whatsoever — got my temporary visa, found a well dressed Vietnamese man with my name on a welcome board and he drove me to my hotel in a very clean and shiny black Vios. The staff at The Little Hanoi Hotel are amazingly helpful and incredibly friendly, and I felt very awful for the one fairly skinny man who had to carry all my luggage up all the flights of stairs to my room at the very top floor.
My flight departed Kuala Lumpur at 7:00am, and I reached Hanoi at around 9:00am in a different time zone (one hour behind). I slept for a few hours and woke up to run some errands — changed money to local currency, got a SIM card, bought some adaptors, and bought some toiletries. I also had a very late lunch at a nice little cafe with really good food and excellent coffee.
Since the only accommodation provided in my new contract is one week paid accommodation at a hotel upon arrival, I decided to get started on looking for my new home for the next year. I took a taxi to meet with an agent and upon reaching my destination, asked the driver how much I owed him. He pointed to the meter, which said 60.0 and he said, “six hundred.” Being just my second day in the country and still not used to all the zeroes and conversion of the VND, I took out 600,000.00 and asked him if it was correct, to which he replied, “yes.” I was in a bit of a rush since the agent was waiting, so I handed him the money and got out of the taxi.
After viewing some apartments and as I was on my way back to the hotel, I thought about the fare I paid and had a feeling that it had been way too much. I took out my currency converter and discovered that I had paid around PHP1,250.00 or RM111.00 to the driver, which basically made it the most expensive taxi ride I had ever taken in my life.
Upon reaching the hotel, I told the ladies at reception what I had done and the look of shock on their faces confirmed that I had not paid the correct amount — but I already knew that since I had just paid the second taxi driver VND40,000.00. So they called the taxi company (as they had been the ones to call the taxi for me that morning to begin with) and attempted to locate the driver. After an hour or so, they called to tell me that they had contacted the driver and had gotten my money back for me and explained that the taxi driver couldn’t understand or speak English and therefore had no idea why I had handed him so much money.
Viewed more apartments. It’s fairly easy to find available apartments for rent in Hanoi, but choosing the right one at the right price and committing to it for an extended period of time is no easy task, especially when you’re doing it covered in sweat that’s literally dripping from your face.
Hopefully, I will have a new home by next week and I can get settled in properly so that it will be one less thing to worry about. Next thing to take care of is all the paperwork that needs to be done for the visa and work permit and, of course, starting the new job and teaching young learners.