Hanoi. 23rd October 2016

We left Bangkok on a Vietjet flight to Hanoi as they charged the same price as most of the other airlines but allowed 20kgs of hold luggage without an additional charge. At least, that’s what we thought, though when we were at baggage check in we began to doubt.

Several people in front of us were sent to a different check in desk because their baggage was over weight. Yet one guy’s back pack was 17 Kilos. Our came in just under 20kgs each, and they accepted it without question. Strange!

The other thing we hadn’t been able to do was print out our boarding passes but this didn’t seem to matter they had our passport details and gave us our chosen seats without question. Lesson to be learnt there Easy Jet/Ryan Air?

No need for an additional £70 charge eh?

Our problems started when we landed.

We hadn’t been able to get any Dong in Thailand and only had $26 to our name so when we landed as well as all the usual stresses we had to get some money. There were desks advertising “Currency Exchange’ and we approached them to see if we could use a Debit card to get some local currency.

Unfortunately they will only change one currency for another and by the way, would you like us to organise a Taxi for you. Current rate $25 in to Old Hanoi?

It seem’s the scam’s start as soon as you enter Vietnam, so you have to be ‘On your toes from the off’.

The only way of getting any currency if you have plastic is to use an ATM and there were three different ones at the far end of the lobby, so we trudged up there with all our baggage and for no logical or sensible reason chose to use the middle one.

Now it got interesting:

22321 dong = $1.

So. $100 = 2232142.86 Dong.

Or to put it another way:

1000 dong = 1.57 Thai Baht.

Given that £10 = 429.41 Thai Baht

Am I making this clear?

The ATM asked us how many Million Dong we wanted to withdraw and as we didn’t have a Scooby how much a Dong was worth it was anyones guess how much we needed.

So we only took 1.5 Million dong to start with. (£54.90 to be exact).

Taxis.

Whilst we were getting our heads around this a guy asked if we needed a Taxi and offered to take us into Town for $20. My immediate reaction was to offer $15 which he accepted.

This was a mistake. Once they have you in Dialogue they have you hooked.

We really weren’t ready to leave the airport at this stage, we didn’t even know which Hotel we were staying in and couldn’t retrieve the  booking info I had saved on the laptop as it kept crashing.

So we needed Wifi so I could log in to my trip advisor account and sort things out.

Whilst we were trying to do this the Taxi guy kept ‘trying to help’ by offering me his mobile phone and suggesting wifi addresses and password I could use to speed up the process, none of which worked but it did increased the anxiety of the moment and made  everything even more confusing.

I suggested he should go away but he smiled and carried on interfering.

Eventually we found the address of the Hotel, he said. “I know that place” and told us to go out by the Tuk-Tuk and he would meet us there.

Frazzled and not thinking clearly we found ourselves in the back of an electric Tuk-Tuk that had a top speed of 5 miles an hour. It dawned on us that this vehicle wasn’t able to take us all the way into Hanoi.

electric-tutuk-driver
Dodgy Tuk-Tuk

We didn’t know just how far it was but we were certain this baby wasn’t going to cut it.

Our Chariot started doing a circuit of the airport and once out on the main road a car pulled along side, with his window down and spoke to our driver. He then stopped and the car and handed our driver some money. He then told us to get into the car.

This was clearly not a Registered Taxi and it didn’t seem like a good idea so we refused and asked the driver to take us back to the Airport. He smiled sweetly but we didn’t move.

The car driver was becoming irate and was having a heated conversation with someone on his mobile phone ( I assume it was the guy who had hooked us at the airport).

dodgy-car
Dodgy Car

He kept thrusting it at me telling me I should talk to the person on the other end. By now Mr Tuk-Tuk was also on his phone. It was becoming a bit of a circus.

So, we humped our cases off the Tuk-Tuk and set of to look for another legitimate Taxi.

At this point a third person came up and tried to get us to go in yet another car, which we refused.He too became animated and he clearly wasn’t a happy bunny.

A Meter Taxi had pulled up at the Junction and we asked him to take us into town, however before he could say yes or no the other two guys approached him, said something and he quickly drove off refusing to take us with him.

So Jaki and I marched up the dual carriage way in the searing heat carrying our pack packs and dragging our suitcases, where we were heading God only knows.

At this point another (legit) Taxi pulled up, said. ” Quick get in” threw our bags in the boot and whisked us off.

It looked like we were rescued till he pulled over to the side of the road under a viaduct. This looked dodgy and we braced for  another confrontation.

Luckily he ran behind a bush and had a Pee, got back in, apologised and delivered us at our Hotel safe and sound.

There is no one at the airport to look after or advise tourists, we are all fair game and clearly the system is there to be exploited. So be warned.

I suggest you do your home work.

Preferably get a pick up organised before you arrive (our Hotel offered airport shuttle but failed to answer my email when i asked them to organise it for us).

If thats not possible, make sure you research on line the cost of a Taxi and how to get one that wont rip you off.

My day was made even worse when I realised I’d left my Kindle in the seat pocket of the Plane when we disembarked.

Ive been in touch with VietJet and reported it and Ive de activated the Kindle and changed y passwords but I have lost all the reading material I had stored on there and I feel really upset at being so dumb.

The final insult came as we left the Hotel to explore. I hadn’t walked ten paces when a hand grabbed my Flip Flop in mid stride. This dextrous digit whisked the flipflop off my foot before it had time to hit the ground and as I continued hopping to a halt he started busily repairing the right shoe. Stitching bits and glueing others.

Jaki took one look and legged it. I found her hiding round the corner where she could laugh at my discomfort in peace. It seem’s I had fallen foul of yet another Hanoi scam.

The Fractured Flip Flop Farce.

Oh well, tomorrows another day.

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