Caught taxi at airport. Agreed on $20 US. Gave address of the hotel we'd booked. No worries.
Half-way along the hair-raising ride into Hanoi the driver gets a call on his mobile. It's the guy who'd touted us at the airport. He has brief exchange with Al, who's not happy. Now we have to pay $40 US. What are we going to do? Babes in the woods.
So Al agrees to the new fee.
We're taken to a different hotel. Another tout assures us that this is the hotel we'd paid for. 'My family has many hotels.' He's nodding and solicitous; obsequious. We are shown a hotel well away from the old town, as far as we can remember. Led up a flight of dingy stairs and shown an okay room. But it's not right.
Al's happy enough to stay there, being desperate for the facilities - the bathroom. But I'm not.
'I want hotel we saw on internet,' say I, in assertive, but hesitant English, dropping direct and indirect articles, as you do.
'This is hotel, but different one. No room in other hotel. My family have many hotels.'
'No. We have been in Vietnam four times.' Somehow this hits the spot. Okay, now we're descending in the lift, and a taxi is summoned. The tout goes his own separate way and we're driven some distance to the heart of the old town, and this hotel, where I'm now typing.
It's okay. Not as good as the photos on the net, but it suffices. The room's warm; the bed sheets are clean. The mattress and pillows are firm but friendly. I've already tried them, being exhausted after the flight. I had an hour's kip. Funny how a four hour time difference after a plane flight can totally throw out your system. I'm working on avoiding hypos by reducing basal rates. Seems okay so far, but we've bought, after lots of searching, some carb supplies should the need arise.
Good to get off the streets of Hanoi for now. Frenetic and grotty. Looks better at night, cos the dirt's not so conspicuous.
And feel quite proud of having foiled the scammers.