Saigon cyclo driver robs elderly Japanese tourist: $125 for 5-minute ride

By Phan Anh   August 5, 2019 | 05:02 pm GMT+7
Saigon cyclo driver robs elderly Japanese tourist: $125 for 5-minute ride
A man rides a cyclo near the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Saigon, October 5, 2018. Photo by Shutterstock/Midori9813.

An 83-year-old Japanese tourist paid a heavy price for trusting a local cyclo driver in HCMC last weekend.

Oki Toshiyuki, 83, who lives in Tokyo, was visiting Saigon with his family as tourists and to visit his son, a photographer in District 4. The family was staying in a hotel on Ton Duc Thang Street in District 1.

When Toshiyuki went jogging on the street Saturday morning, an unidentified cyclo driver accosted him near the Ben Thanh Market and offered to take him back to the hotel. The Japanese tourist agreed. The trip to the hotel took five  minutes.

Toshiyuki intended to give the driver VND500,000 ($22) in appreciation, but the driver wanted more. While Toshiyuki was reaching into his wallet, the driver snatched VND2.9 million ($125) from it and left.

The normal cyclo rate in Saigon and other major cities in Vietnam is around VND100,000 ($4.3) per person per hour.

"It was my fault for not asking for the price before getting on the cyclo," said Toshiyuki.

Oki Toshiyuki (leftmost) with his family at the Nguyen Hue Walking Street in Saigons District 1. Photo courtesy of Oki Toshiyuki.

Oki Toshiyuki (left) with his family at the Nguyen Hue walking street in Saigon's District 1. Photo courtesy of Oki Toshiyuki.

The city’s Department of Tourism said Monday it was cooperating with other city authorities to find the cyclo driver and return the money to Toshiyuki. They would also take steps to prevent such incidents in the future, a department representative said, adding that the impact of such incidents on Vietnam’s image and reputation as a nation and as a people, Saigon residents in particular, was "significant."

"It causes anxiety and insecurity for tourists who come to Saigon," the official told Thanh Nien newspaper.

Tourists being overcharged or outright duped are not uncommon in Saigon.

Last year, two French tourists were charged VND600,000 ($26) for an hour’s cyclo ride, after which the driver gave them VND900,000 ($39) in joss paper as change.

It is a traditional practice in Vietnam to burn fake paper currency and models of material property like buildings, vehicles and smart electronic devices as offerings for deceased relatives.

 
 
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