Day: June 19th, 2006

Arrival: Saigon

Monday, June 19th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

No photos tonight… Just set foot in the hotel about half an hour ago and writing this from the lone computer station off the hotel Front Desk.

Almost missed my flight from HKG; I had forgotten what an inordinate amount of time it takes to pass through Immigration in Hong Kong, coming or going. After racing into the plane minutes before the doors closed, we proceed to sit on the runway. And sit… and sit. After about half an hour, during which the passengers sat in silent confusion/annoyance, the pilot came over the PA with an announcement of a “customer issue” causing the delay, which brought to mind the mysterious “sick passenger” announcement on the NYC subway. Whatever the “issue” was, it was resolved minutes later and we were off.

Uneventful flight… and upon arrival in SGN (half an hour late), I collected my luggage and stepped into the greeting hall where I was met with one of the most chaotic scenes I’ve ever encountered at an airport. Masses of people, some with signs, most shouting and gesturing. Within seconds, I was accosted by three rather aggressive taxi drivers, offering to assist with my luggage, asking about my destination. I tried to decline as politely as possible, secretly wishing I had made arrangements with the hotel for a meet and greet upon arrival, but two of the three continued to tail me as I exited the airport gates, searching for the taxi line. As I made my way to what appeared to be the end of the line (or rather, crowd), both drivers asked my destination. Considering my options, I announced it and asked the price, to which they responded simultaneously with “$12” and “$15”. The hotel had approximated the cost at $6-7, so uh… no, thanks. This seemed to set off an argument between the two (I’m guessing over how to more effectively engage in collusion), at which point I spied a fourth taxi driver — this one in an official SaigonTourist uniform. He offered to deliver me to my destination for $6. Done.

The driver spoke decent English and during the fifteen minute ride, we chatted briefly about Vietnamese history as he pointed out the attractions we passed along the way. At the hotel, I was greeted with smiles and a bottle of very cold water.


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Parting shots: Star Ferry and Kowloon Island

Monday, June 19th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

From my final afternoon in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Island as seen from the Star Ferry:

Star Ferry View

Star Ferry View

Billboard in Tsim Tsa Tsui, Kowloon:

Jackie Chan

Final look at the view from the Kowloon promenade.

Hong Kong


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Goodbye, Hong Kong

Monday, June 19th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

Before I check out, the view from my hotel room on the 25th floor:

HK View

And from Pok Fu Lam, where the Europeans first discovered Hong Kong Island:

Pok Fu Lam
I’ll be back.

HK Passport

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