It should have dawned on me before now, Grab Car drivers are weekend cabbies paying for their fuel for the rest of the week. Actually having a rudimentary grasp of Hanoi’s geography isn’t part of the deal.
I belatedly came to this conclusion one wet Saturday night in the Old Quarter. As usual when we we’re thinking of heading home the heavens opened. Not a drizzle but a full on rainy season no messing about downpour.
Luckily, we managed to find a Grab Car within minutes albeit a street away because of the weekend traffic restrictions. We eventually located our ride okay as he was driving a SUV canal barge. This was handy as the streets were beginning to flood.
Immediately we set off, he activated the sat nav – which is usually a bad sign. It was switched to English and the posh woman told us to turn right. Then turn right in 200 metres. After the third right turn it was becoming clear we were heading back towards our starting point.
When I mentioned to the bạn gái we had already driven along this street in the opposite direction, she took over the navigation and we began to ignore the posh English lady’s instructions. Time passed as we weaved our way out of the Old Quarter.
Posh English lady was becoming ratty, “Recalculating your course…” After a short spell of the ‘silent treatment’ she announced tersely that the ETA at our destination was 2035. By this point in the proceedings, it could well have been the year we were due to arrive.
Finally, we emerged onto a street I recognized and we were on the home straight relatively speaking. After three or four more driver directions we pulled up at our gate.
We got out and there was a quick conversation in Vietnamese. “He just asked for directions back to the main road didn’t he?”