Sapa, May 13th 2010
While I and my tour guide went to Thac Bac Waterfall, our driver waited across the street. About Thac Bac, I've written already in my previous post. It was our last destination for that day. We had roasted sticky rice and a glass of hot green tea. Everything seemed so green. The trees, the tea...
"Are you happy today?" asked my tour guide when I was about to get in the car.
"Yes, I am," I answered honestly.
"Then give some tip to Mr. Quan," he said while pointing to our driver.
"How much should I give him?" I asked.
"I don't know," he answered.
"Ten thousand? Would that be enough?"
"I don't know."
"Ten thousand. Is that too less?"
"I don't know. It's up to you."
On the way back to the hotel my mind began calculating. First, as settled before we left, the cost for this private tour is 99 USD. If my tour guide asks me to tip our driver, then he himself must be tipped. How much should I give them?
When I rented a car for a city tour in Dalat, we tipped our driver 20.000 dongs. Obviously he looked pleased with that. He started driving us at 8:00 AM and dropped us at a restaurant near our hotel at 7:00 PM. Time speaking, Mr. Vu, our driver in Sapa, served us longer than Mr. Quan, this driver in Sapa. We left the travel agent at past ten and arrived back at four in the afternoon. It's only about half the time I spent by car in Dalat.
Job content speaking, Mr. Vu did not serve us as driver only. Although I already had the whole itinerary, he became a semi guide for us, showing us some places I didn't have in my plan and it turned out to be nice places. Matter of factly speaking, he wasn't paid for guiding. So that's like a bonus for us. However, Mr. Quan, he merely drove us. He did drive us carefully, skillfully, cheerfully... I like the way he drove just like Mr. Vu's.
Should I tip anyway? It was never ever mentioned when I dealt for this tour.
On the account of "working time" and "job content" factors mentioned above, I wanted to just tip 10.000 dongs. But I was afraid he might get offended. So... when I got off the car, I handed him a twenty thousand note.
And then I tipped my tour guide thirty thousand dongs on the account of he leading the way, tipping the man who was making a plow while I photographed him, and carrying my camera backpack plus tripod while climbing to stairs to Thac Bac Waterfall.
I retreated immediately to my cozy room in Fansipan View Hotel. I thought I would take a rest awhile while reading a book but instead fell asleep until 8:00 o'clock at night. I forgot that I had some biscuits with me and that there's a restaurant downstairs. So I closed my eyes again and woke up the next morning. My debt of lack of sleep the previous 2 nights has been paid off.
Are you happy today? Yes, I am.