I do love a random trip away and as I only have a 3 month single entry tourist visa this time it means I would have to spend our ‘holidays’ in Vietnam. Captain Caveman is fortunate enough to get some days off during his working season so we try to optimise the use of these to our best advantage. On Tuesday 18th February the alarm went off at 05:45 and we were picked up at 06:15 by Mr Toan the driver. We drove first to Chay Lap to pick up several of Captain Caveman’s Son Doong customers then on to Dong Hoi train station ready to get our (soft) seats to Danang on the 07:57 train. We had lots of leg room, the seats were comfy and I managed a nap despite the loud Vietnamese TV shows that were playing, without anyone watching them. After 5.5 hours we arrived in Danang on time and headed straight to one of our favourite restaurants for lunch. Olivia’s is a steak house and was due to close at 2pm so we ordered our food and drinks quickly. We both had fillet mignon with jacket potato and asparagus (Captain Caveman also had a side of mac and cheese). Having had no breakfast we only had a glass of red wine each and plenty of water. The staff were excellent and didn’t rush us despite the closing time and the food was probably the best I’ve eaten so far this year. To finish off we were given a couple of the Olivia’s chocolate vodka shots which is unbelievably moreish. We headed to Seven Bridges bar next so that we could enjoy another drink (or two) and were met with the smiliest of security guards and welcoming staff. I had more red wine while Captain Caveman had some ales and we couldn’t resist the buttery popcorn.
Eventually we headed over to Hoi An by taxi so we could check in and go meet our friends. Hoi An Trails Resort and Spa was very impressive and the welcome tea very refreshing. The room which our friend had booked was massive and stylish with a connecting door to their room and a terrace. We headed to meet our mates, one of whom had just arrived from Australia that morning and we got on the cocktails at Tiger Tiger bar. After a catch up and a few cocktails we went to White Marble for wine and a bite to eat – it was the busiest I’d ever seen the place and we only just got a table upstairs. We got the electric golf buggy back to our hotel for 50,000vnd between the 4 of us and were feeling a bit merry.
Captain Caveman was feeling a little woolly on Wednesday 19th February and, as we left our hotel room, I pointed out he hadn’t dressed himself properly. Our breakfast of fruit, pho, juice and tea was very nice in the dining area of the Hoi An Trails Resort and Spa. After breakfast the girls went for a massage and we got the free shuttle taxi service in to the old town for a little walk around. We called in to the Oxalis office, which looks really inviting and professional, where we had a chat with Tham, the sales girl who works there – we’d not seen her for awhile and it was nice to catch up and take a few photos too. By lunchtime we were in the Pasteur Street Brewing Company admiring a river view and ordering an alcoholic beverage and a plate full of sausage (as you do). It’s the first time I’ve visited this place and really enjoyed it so will be going back again next time. I thought that the town still seemed busy but Captain Caveman reckoned it was definitely down on the number of tourists around. We had a walk along the river, taking photos as we went, until we reached an old favourite, The 3 Dragons, where we found it was happy hour so had more drinks and a plate of spring rolls to nibble on. The girls were going to join us but decided to lounge by the lovely pool and we still had our second happy hour drink to get down. We didn’t go back to the hotel and instead wandered back to town to the Gemstone Art Gallery and Museum, where I had previously been with Louisa a few visits ago. This place has a (not so) secret bar inside, amazingly good value wine and a constant supply of free peanuts. The place is fantastic for people watching too and so we sat outside and waited for the girls and their friend to arrive.
It turned in to ‘one of those nights’ when someone thought it would be a great idea to all have a tequila shot with our vegetarian meal at Am restaurant (also very good). Back in town we couldn’t resist the lure of the Tiger Tiger bar which had drink offers (buckets/free shots/cocktails) and music to really dance to. We made friends, had so much fun and I fell off a speaker next to the DJ area (without injury). We went the distance until they kicked everyone out and it was taxi home time. Captain Caveman and I did the sensible thing and walked to the taxi rank while the others had a great idea to get individual motorbike taxis home, even though a taxi for all of us would be cheaper!
Our Hoi An break was coming to an end as we met for breakfast on Thursday 20th February, some with worse hangovers than others. I hadn’t been drinking when we got to Tiger Tiger bar as I was too busy dancing so I felt fine, except for my achey limbs. We enjoyed the hotel breakfast once again and then we ordered the taxi so that the girls could get their train from Danang to Dong Hoi, while we had another night booked in Danang. It had been such a good trip with lots of laughs and we were looking forward to chilling out a bit in Danang before our friend from Germany arrived for 10 days.
We checked in to a small studio apartment at Sincerro, in the An Thuong area of Danang, chosen because I finally had an appointment for some waxing at L’Spa, nearby – it was definitely getting too hot back in Phong Nha to not be able to wear shorts. We also were looking forward to catching up with our friend, Diana, who used to live in Phong Nha. After saying goodbye (well, see you back in Phong Nha) to our Hoi An chums we checked in and then headed to a trendy vegetarian cafe called Mud Bistro where the food was amazing! I had a kale, beetroot and vegan cheese salad which was sprinkled with raisins and pumpkin seeds followed by a portion of fresh (vegan) spring rolls. Captain Caveman had some version of avocado and toast but it was mighty fancy for a brunch meal. The staff were on it with top ups of cold lemon water and we sat outside as the weather was nice.
As it was our last day of holidays it would be rude not to squeeze in an extra meal, so after a thorough waxing Captain Caveman and I went to Oasis Tapas bar for a glass of wine, only to indulge in a few fantastic tapas dishes. We had beef, ostrich and Spanish omelette (even though I don’t like eggs) which were all so tasty and we had to stop ourselves being too greedy as we were off to meet Diana for dinner (number 2).
While our German friend confirmed she had arrived in Hanoi and her flight to Dong Hoi the next day had been moved to later we wandered over to The Kneipe restaurant. Captain Caveman ordered a pizza, Diana had a pork dish with 2 sides from the specials and I ordered the chicken wings (having checked they were gluten free first) with a side of red cabbage – we all had a red wine too. My chicken wings came deep fried in a coating which looked like flour so I pulled it all off and ate them and my side of red cabbage was delicious but massive. We all enjoyed our food then headed over to The Craftsman Cocktail bar where the cocktails went down very well and we met an ex Jungle Boss colleague, Smiley Fox, who was now working there.
Diana had some friends who were at an open mic night just down the road at The Trip so we decided to join and there was some really great musicians playing, including the organiser, his partner and a few other friendly types, we drank cocktails and ciders and even bumped in to the woman from The Kneipe who was still apologising for giving me too much red cabbage! By 12:30am Captain Caveman and I were begging for mercy and had to leave the younger ones to it!