It was my last yoga class on Friday 20th March and I was going to miss the class and the White Russian. She was extremely good at yoga and a good teacher and I was definitely going to miss going over for the class each day in such beautiful surroundings. It was also the day that 4 of the Phong Nha residents would leave Vietnam to go back to the UK. Watto, Chrissy, Jo and Andrew were all booked on the same flight together (I don’t know who I felt sorry for the most) and were flying from Dong Hoi to Saigon that evening. Already Josh had messaged to say he was in Istanbul and all was calm – as far as he could tell his flight to London was still going. Veronika was keen to meet for lunch before Chrissy left and so Chrissy hadn’t come to yoga so that she could get packed. I arrived at Capture to meet Veronika and Chrissy to find that Watto, Jo & Andrew, Howard & Deb and the ex-lodger were joining for lunch too. After lunch I cycled home and went over to Jo & Andrew’s to collect my new furniture and then saw off the four of them as they left for the airport. It looked like there was a storm brewing and I went home to catch up on some blogging and have a shower.
I went to Momma D’s for a wine before dinner and got chatting to Des and D-Dub, then a group of westerners joined us as well as Hanh (owner of D’Arts). We decided to go to eat as a group for bun cha at D’Arts and we sat on the comfy seats inside. We went back to Momma D’s until closing and then tried to go to Andy’s but he was closed so I invited people back to mine – by this time it was just me, Tatas, the ex-lodger, Des and the White Russian (D-Dub joined later). The ex-lodger brought his speaker over and we took it in turns to play music. There was wine yoga, bhangra dancing (and general dancing) and singing. We still had some Monkey 47 gin left and so we drank a selection of beers, gin and wine until the small hours.

On Saturday 21st March I woke up about 9.30am hungry and incredibly thirsty. There was no yoga to go to as White Russian was supposed to be flying to Saigon that night. I tidied up the house and was particularly disappointed to find one of the guests had opened but left a full can of 333 beer, there were bits of what I hoped was chocolate on the floor and a load of ants having a picnic with it. Captain Caveman was due back that afternoon so I wanted to make sure the house was looking at his best for him as he’d not been in the new room yet.
I got a message from Caroline to say there would be a party at Ho Khanh’s that evening and Captain Caveman messaged to say he was on his way back and there was an end of expedition celebration meal at Namaste that evening! Meanwhile it had become a rule that we had to wear a mask when out in public which was tricky as the only time I was out in public was when I was eating or drinking. Bamboo cafe, Veggie Box and Momma D’s all decided to close up because of the Corona virus and lack of customers, which was not a surprise.
Captain Caveman was happy to be back and was even happier to be eating at one of his favourite restaurants. The food was good and we had a laugh – the rest of the caving group had their flights early the next morning and were probably the last scheduled ones available. White Russian had also had her internal flight cancelled but needed to get to Saigon for her Emirates flight on Monday (if it didn’t cancel). She met us at Ho Khanh’s party where she let D-Dub book her a train from Dong Hoi to Saigon for the next day which would take 24 hours to get there! She also brought everyone a stone/crystal as a gift and she also gave me some nice shampoo and a leaf trinket to make a necklace out of. Me, Des and ex-lodger were struggling to socialise or have any alcohol but D-Dub and White Russian were doing fine. Tatas was soldiering on and managed beer and tequila shots! We didn’t stay long (as I had overdone it the previous evening) and agreed to meet the cavers at 7am the next morning as they were leaving for the airport at 7.30am.

On Sunday 22nd March Captain Caveman and I went to Ho Khanh’s to say bye to the remaining expedition cavers and then cycled to town where we ate breakfast at Capture and it was a nice pleasant morning, no storms as yet! For lunch we were off to A Little Leaf for seafood and so Des, Hanh and Tatas joined us. The BBQ prawns were fantastic and I managed to resist the scallops. D-Dub popped by Little Leaf to see us, having dropped the White Russian off – she would have an unenviable train ride to Saigon. Back home we sat together in our deckchairs, admiring the amazing mountain views, drinking wine and happily resigning ourselves to the fact that we were now part of the Phong Nha remainers – we were going to be here for a while I suspected. Confirmation came back from my Berlin 10 friends’ wedding that it would be postponed to next year which selfishly I was glad I would be able to attend.
In the evening Captain Caveman and I went to Phong Nha Eatery where the food was good and the chef was doing some lovely dishes there, despite only a skeleton staff. It was Mother’s Day back in the UK so when we got home we called my parents and had a good chat. I was pleased that they were keeping themselves indoors until it was safe and we managed to have a bit of a laugh, despite everything going on. Captain Caveman fell asleep in a deckchair and then went to bed before I finished the call – the last 5 days of finding new caves had worn him out!

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