My motorbike driver: Mr. Chao (slideshow)

At the heart of the backpacker district here in HCMC, Bui Vien Street is the worst for people trying to sell you stuff. Every few steps along this street, people are asking if you want a motorbike ride, a book, sunglasses, watches, trinkets, everything. So I have no idea how Mr. Chao got me to stop, but he did. Right under his motorbike seat, he has two guest books filled with reviews from people who’d ridden with him.

“Where you from?” he asked. I said, “California,” to keep it simple. With that, he flipped straight to a rave review from a woman from Santa Ana. Page after page was filled with exclamations about how nice and helpful he was.

“Ok. Pick me up tomorrow. 11am, this address.” (I always carry my hostel/hotel’s business card. It’s basically the only way a taxi or moped driver can know where you want to go.)

The next morning I walked out, and there he was! All smiles. And off we went! After a few blocks, he pulled over and pointed to the HCMC Fine Arts Museum. “You go museum. I come back later.” We decided on noon and with that, he was off!

The HCMC Fine Arts Museum costs 10,000VND (50¢).  Check out my pics posted here.

Afterward, I told him that I like pho (pronounced “fuh”) and he dropped me off at the 3rd place listed on my Saigon Food post.

He briefly stopped in front of the opera house and said, “Opera House! Take a picture!” Then just down the road, “City Hall! Take a picture!” (Both buildings should be easy to spot in the gallery.)

I was looking for a certain kind of pants, so he took me to Saigon Square, where I found some for $6, as opposed to $12 that they go for on Bui Vien. (See? I told you it’s the worst!)

Next we parked in front of a “Chinese pagoda”. Still not sure what that means – Chinese Buddhist temple with a resident cat?

And finally, the War Remnants Museum, which I will post about this coming weekend.

From 11a-6p Mr. Chao carted me around Saigon, often coming so close to other mopeds and vehicles, that I could have easily touched them. (Of course I didn’t, and don’t even know why the impulse crosses my mind every time, but it does.)

We hadn’t decided on a price, so I didn’t know what to expect when he dropped me off. He just kept saying, “Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.” I decided if he wasn’t happy with whatever I had left in my pocket, I could run upstairs and give him the 200,000VND ($10) I had in my room. I had about 70-80,000 VND (so $3) and he seemed happy with that.

We were going to go ride out to the countryside Thursday, but I landed my new job Tuesday night, so I had to cancel.

Hope you enjoy my pics! They’re in chronological order, so you can imagine being along for the ride. Press the arrows to speed the slideshow along more quickly.

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One thought on “My motorbike driver: Mr. Chao (slideshow)

  1. Mr Chao is a crook!!!!!!!!! He shows you his booked with the comments, he is very friendly and drives you round I never talks about prices, but when you’re done with it he asks you soooooooooooo much money….. And he’s not the same Chao, he’s face changes, he doesn’t smile anymore…. He asked me 4 000 000 Dong for taking me to war museum, independence palace, few bars and restaurants where I always paid his food and drinks. I fought with him because I said it was to much and he didn’t want me to leave. i had to give him 2 000 000 Dong to go. I thought he was a nice person and liked him but then the story was different. Few months later a friend of mine went to Hcmc and Mr Chao take him for a 15 mn ride and asked him 300 000 Dong… Mr Chao you’re a cunt my man!

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