Day of Rest
Posted by Nancy on March 30, 2008
Sunday seems to be no different from any other day here, except the government offices close for the weekends. The traffic seemed even heavier than normal.
The shops are all open, but I guess they are back home, too. It’s the Sabbath, so we did no shopping. The Internet was down most of the day, which made for a boring day.
We decided to get out and see some sights and learn some things, so took a cab to the Ethnology Museum to learn about Vietnamese culture. We were surprised at just how primitive some of the ethnic minorities’ cultures still are. When they talk of people living in caves and under rock shelters as recently as 1999, that is pretty primitive.
Another cab took us to Al Fresco’s, a very western type restaurant. When we were done we asked them to call us a cab and an emloyee went to the curb and started waving to flag one down. The one he finally got was heading the other direction, so he just whipped a U-turn on this thoroughfare with a gazillion scooters and cars everywhere. We got in. Turns out we needed to go the way he was originally heading, so another U-turn caused the open-eyed fear I felt the first day here.
Matt and I commented that we have seen no accidents during the week we have been here, and consider that amazing. Another amazing thing is that all the cab drivers have cars with standard transmissions. I drive a car with a standard transmission, and I can tell you that stop and go driving gets to be tedious. That is all there is here. It’s a city of 3.5 million people where it’s every man for himself, no one ever stops, and you are braking and accelerating all the time.
What a job they have! I gave him a tip*, just for getting us back unscathed.
Tips are not customary here, and the Vietnamese prefer the westerners not inroduce the practice since the cab drivers, waitstaff, etc. develop a preference for serving those who give tips. Go figure.