Rule number one

Rule number one for air travel – check your flight before you leave for the airport. Of course, it helps if the airline actually lists that sort of information on the internet, or has an easy to call hotline. Ours doesn’t. But, thats what your friendly hotel staff should be for, we just weren’t that bright this morning.

Our Vietnam Airlines flight has been “delayed” nine hours – from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. The staff said, “no problem, go to your gate and we will feed you lunch and dinner”. Some how passing 9 hours on a chair and eating airport food didn’t sound fun. So we went the taxi voucher route to the Dong Khoi district. I picked the district because I thought 1) we need to use the internet to contact our hotel (and ride) in Hanoi and let them know about the flight change, and 2) we need to pass a lot of time.

Traffic took care of an hour for us. Getting “directions” to an internet cafe ate up another hour, so it is now 11 AM. Still better than sitting in a terminal. Finding a net cafe was particularly hard – usually you can’t swing a cat with out hitting a moto driver, a cyclo, and an internet cafe. But it was complicated by other factors…

I hadn’t had to deal with the “face” aspect of Asia culture too much. Mostly just to keep things light when in negotiations. But today I think I’ve figured out another aspect of “face”. If someone hesitates while giving directions and is a bit vague (general hand sweeps or points), then there might be a good chance that they are making it up. I’m assuming it is seen as better to give a wrong answer, than none at all.

Not knowing that some of the answers might not be so informative, we had a bit of a wild goose chase before we figured out we should only trust some answers. For the Harpers fans:

Saigon’s Index for Internet Cafe directions
(aka the rough statistics for the last hour and a half)

  • Total number of people asked for directions: 21
  • Total number of people that gave directions: 20
  • First person to give a correct answer: 11th person
  • Total number of people that gave correct directions: 3

Good times.

Join the Conversation


  1. Chris & Anna:

    Great commentary on history, travel and the human condition. Keep the log going.


  2. My husband just mentioned that many Asians are not taught map-reading in school and therefore don’t have the skills to do so. I wonder if that is why you had such a hard time. Amazing little group of statistics you put together!

  3. Hmm, interesting info, thanks Anna. We only used the map when they asked for one, the rest of the time it was all verbal or hand signals – usually just to turn one way, or go to the next block.

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