The first trip of 2017

On Saturday (7th January) we were ready very early and awaited our bus pick up for 6.45am outside our house with hangovers. The attitude on time keeping in Phong Nha is very relaxed compared to back home and so after a few pick-ups and stop offs we were finally leaving town and heading to another wedding about 50km away from Vinh. Captain Caveman and I joined Watto & Chrrisy on the bus with the other Oxalis employees and arrived at Dung and Huong’s wedding at 11am. I was still feeling a little fragile so I opted for the tea offered rather than the rice wine. There were lots of friends and family there and the happy couple looked very nervous as the speeches and singing, by various people, continued at volume. There was the traditional pouring of the red, fizzy wine into champagne pyramids followed by a sip with linked arms as people clapped or took photos.
The day was warm and the sun came out making it pretty hot by the afternoon when the food feast started – there was beef, pork, chicken, bread and sticky rice washed down with too much rice wine and cans of winter melon (both are an acquired taste).
After the wedding we were driven by car to Vinh train station where we would be getting the overnight sleeper train to Da Nang then going to Hoi An for a couple of days with Watto & Chrissy. As there were a few hours to kill before the train that evening Captain Caveman and I went for a walk around the town and found ourselves in an empty Bia Hoi place drinking Huda beer and eating beer snacks. Back home bar snacks would usually consist of crisps or nuts but here they are a little healthier with their offerings, we were given rice crackers, cucumber and a vegetable we affectionately call eyeballs – related to the aubergine and has the ability to suck all the moisture from your mouth with one tiny bite. We also tried a Vuvuzela restaurant but weren’t particularly impressed with the food although the beer was good.
Our overnight train journey was OK despite having a carriage door that kept swinging open because of a broken catch, so a little sleepy we arrived to the car waiting to take us to Eden Homestay on Cua Dai Street. Chrissy and I have stayed here a few times and so Chrissy had managed to get a good deal by booking directly with the hotel. We had a good walk to Dingo Deli for our breakfast as this was a place all of us had enjoyed eating at in previous visits and it wasn’t quite as good as usual – I prefer their lunchtime food over the breakfast and was glad we had booked breakfast at our homestay for the next two days. While in Hoi An we visited a tailor, shopped for DVDs, ate Vietnamese and Indian food, drank wine in nice places. Captain Caveman found the best fish and chips at a place called ‘Chips & Fish & Stuff’ while I enjoyed their famous Hoi An dish of Cao Lau (a pork noodle dish).
On Tuesday Watto & Chrissy headed back to Phong Nha while we headed to the dentist in Da Nang for our check ups. I was glad to hear that my teeth were fine and needed no treatment – Captain Caveman was all good too. We treated ourselves with a trip to the cinema in Da Nang where we watched Arrival, a pretty good film despite me not liking sci-fi/alien types. The overnight train from Da Nang back to Dong Hoi was good despite an elderly man on the bottom bunk of my side not turning his light off all night so again we didn’t really get much sleep. My birthday started with me being annoyed at Captain Caveman for being tetchy with the old bloke.

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