On Monday 23rd March Captain Caveman went to Oxalis in the morning and arranged to borrow a car so that we could go to Dong Hoi to change dollars at the gold shop. This money was all the tips so far this year which were given to the Oxalis porters and guides and, given the lack of work in Phong Nha now, it was a good time to give the money out. Tatas also asked to come along as she needed to get something in the market. Our first stop was the wine shop which we were surprised was still open – we bought 4 bottles of red wine and a bottle of vodka. I was getting a bit hangry as there was very little open for breakfast and we went to the Vincom centre for snacks. As we entered, all masked up, the security guard checked our temperatures. Captain Caveman and Tatas were both 36.6° and I was the coolest of us all at 36.2°. We had a drink at the Sherlyn Coffee shop (I had a passion fruit smoothie) and then we drove over to find some lunch. There wasn’t much open but we found Thai Binh Street Food. The food was actually pretty good and I would go there again. I had pork kebabs, Tatas had beef and chips and Captain Caveman had some beef jerky which was delicious.
Back in Phong Nha we visited the market to stock up on socks and soft drinks and I tried to buy contraceptive pills (I only have enough until next month and I usually buy them in Turkey). The old man behind the pharmacy counter looked at the packet, put the big light on, looked again, put his readers on and then he went rummaging in his cupboard. There was one box of 3 month’s worth left and he sold them to me for 70,000vnd (£2.45) – a bargain and still in date.
Back home we had a couple of white russians while I messaged someone reliable in Phong Nha who might be able to extend my visa. In the evening we had an outing to the Vung Hue with just four of us – Captain Caveman and I, Des and Tatas. It was the first time I’d been this year and the food was bloody lovely, especially the ribs and the veggie fried rice (I forgot to take a photo of them). That day I had a message from our housemate who was on his way back from Danang and would be arriving that night. He has the room directly beneath our new one so that would stop us dancing in an evening!

On Tuesday 24th March Captain Caveman and I cycled to Capture for lunch, I ate a chicken salad and Captain Caveman had his usual pizza which of course I was so jealous I couldn’t eat. In the afternoon we went to Oxalis Home so that the tip money could be given out to the guides. I had a green tea and he had a couple of beers and we waited for each of the staff to come get their money. Next stop we popped in to Ho Khanh’s to look for keys and I had a short rest in the hammock. In the evening Captain Caveman and I went to D’Arts for bun cha and Tatas joined us later. We cycled back home so I could call my mom to wish her a happy birthday. My parents were self-isolating and mom had started learning a new skill, well two actually. My dad was supervising her in drainage and block-work on their house – she assured me they were both fine and would have some wine later. It was good to chat to my parents despite the worry that this virus was getting so much worse back in Europe and there was nothing I could do about it.

We started the day with mugs of ginger tea at home on Wednesday 25th March, using the stool for our coffee table. Captain Caveman was a bit curious to see how much booze we had left, for if we went in to lock down – we certainly had no need to worry and were grateful to those who had brought us gifts of whisky and gin.
We went to Funny Monkeys for lunch where I ordered pork fried rice and Captain Caveman asked for pork ribs but when it came I got pork with noodles (which have wheat in) so we did a swap and the food was quite tasty. As we had started eating Tatas arrived and ordered a corn on the cob which looked great. Back home we were loving the views and having the big windows – we sat down and watched as the neighbours moved a house and I worked at my new desk/table with a wine. In the evening it was just me, Captain Caveman and Tatas for Namaste where I went off piste and had a butter chicken while the others had their favourite dishes and I had a lovely couple of glasses of red wine. The food was delicious and we were all stuffed when we finished the meal and the 2 of us went home for a gin nightcap.

It was muggy and hot on Thursday 26th March and the cycle in to town for breakfast was sticky. Captain Caveman had the eggs benedict and espressos while I had fruit and yoghurt with honey on top and a herbal tea at Coffee Station. On the way back we decided to call in to Ho Khanh’s. We had some drinks and eventually we left so that we could go to lunch – at about 5pm!!!
We decided to try You and Me as we hadn’t been in ages, it was open and the owner was welcoming. The food is quick and good value for money and I would have the chicken fried rice again. We decided to have an early night as the next day Captain Caveman was off doing some training work with Oxalis and so the alarm was set.

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