This city is about halfway between Hue and Hanoi. After a seven hour train ride from Hue, I arrived in here mid-afternoon. Vinh was bombed by the French and the Americans and so most of the city was built after the 1970s. As a result, the roads and footpaths are wider than most other cities in Vietnam. It was nice to stroll along the side of the road without having to duck under food stall canopies and weave around parked motorcyles and piles of rubbish. The city was also strongly supportive of the communist regime - Ho Chi Minh himself was from the region and there’s a gigantic statue of him in a park in the city centre.
When I arrived and got off the train I jumped in a taxi and asked to be taken to the APEC hotel, a place that’s recommended by my guidebook. The conversation between the taxi driver (who spoke no English) and I went like this:
‘APEC Hotel please.’
‘Yes, the APEC Hotel. Do you know it?’
‘Ok, I know. Hotel APEC?’
‘Yes Hotel APEC or APEC Hotel, however you want to put it.’
‘APEC, APEC, ok.’
‘Great, APEC hotel here we come.’
Fifteen minutes later we pulled up to a place called... the Media Hotel. I tried to tell the driver that it was not the APEC and he said ‘Oh APEC’ like I had never mentioned it before. We drove back the opposite direction and finally arrive at the APEC Hotel. He pointed at the meter which read 88,000 dong. I lost my temper and said ‘I’m not paying that, you took me to the wrong place! No, I’m not paying.’ He was grinning and pointing at the meter. I handed over 70,000 dong and said ‘that’s all I’m paying’ even though he was still wanting more. I nearly lost it completely, swore under my breath, grabbed my bags and got out of the taxi, slamming the door behind me.
The next day when I got another taxi from the hotel back to the train station, the fare was only 45,000 dong.