Phong Nha – 10 things I plan to do when I can put my foot down again

Phong Nha – 10 things I plan to do when I can put my foot down again

It’s been 6 weeks since I drunkenly injured myself and ended up with damaged ligaments in my ankle and knee, it’s been just over 5 weeks since I borrowed some crutches and it’s been 1 week since the physio told me I could practice putting weight on my bad leg. Here’s my list of 10 things I’ve planned for when I can walk a bit better:

1. Get down (& back up) the house stairs.
2. Walk to Ho Khanh’s for a cold drink.
3. Try getting on a motorbike so I can go out out.
4. Have time at the pool somewhere relaxing.
5. Avoid places with stairs and hard to get to toilets for the time being.

6. Visit a neighbour.
7. Get a little bit of sun on my Vitamin D deficient body (with sunscreen, ofcourse).
8. Say hello to Bluey (my bicycle).

9. Stroke a dog.
10. Have a glass of wine or a Margarita.

Phong Nha – the 3rd week of May

Phong Nha – the 3rd week of May

Captain Caveman was up early on Monday 18th May, he’s been waking up every day before 6am and going in to the spare room for showers and to read stuff on his phone without waking me up. By 7.30am he had returned, filled the kettle, boiled it and was filling a flask of iced tea for me before he headed down to Oxalis. I’d also ran out of medication so he was off to the pharmacy to pick me some up, while also meeting up with a friend who’d come to visit Phong Nha.
I had a friend pop over to visit but I didn’t have the keys or capability to let her in the house, Captain Caveman did answer his phone but had just ordered his eggs benedict at Coffee Station. In the end she got in after our housemate was able to assist and she filled me in on what has been happening this past month.
After my friend left I was getting a bit hungry so called Captain Caveman to see if he could get me some lunch, he was already at Funny Monkeys and had ordered some food for us. We shared pork fried rice but I couldn’t eat much of it as it had accidentally got chilli in it. This meant I ate snacks in the afternoon and found out how to create a JoLo avatar – hours of fun! One of Captain Caveman’s issues with having to get me toiletries/my purse/stuff from the drawers in the spare room was that he didn’t know where anything was and my drawers were too messy for him, so he emptied all the contents in to some crates and asked me to sort it all into a better state. I did a couple of them but found that it was too hot and I couldn’t reach easily to do it at the table.
Captain Caveman went to meet friends at Momma D’s for sunset, with a promise of bringing me dinner from Namaste, which arrived at 9.30pm – chicken bhuna and chips!

It was a few degrees cooler on Tuesday 19th May. Vietnam had 4 new Corona cases (quarantined on arrival) and 3 recoveries. The world had 87,000 more cases, 3,300 deaths and another 48,000 had recovered in the last day. The UK data showed they had a total of 246,000 cases and 34,700 deaths. Turkey had reached 150,500 cases and 4,000 deaths. I had gluten free biscuits for breakfast and then tried to make myself look more like my avatar! I had another visitor mid-morning too – I’d not seen Tatas since the end of the post lockdown drunken night, 32 days ago. She came in, gave me a hug and updated us both on any news.
After she left we had curry leftovers for lunch and I got on with some writing and Turkish lessons. In the evening Captain Caveman went to join friends at Momma D’s and I decided to try the new gluten free selection of sausages, which he brought as a takeaway. He had his sausages with mash gravy and peri peri sauce while I had chips, steamed veg and BBQ sauce with mine. I ordered 2 beef and 2 pork, ate 1 each of the pork and beef and saved the other two for the next day. They were really tasty and I’d not had sausages for some time but within 30 minutes of eating I had a bad stomach. Captain Caveman assured me he had definitely ordered the gluten free ones so maybe it was still the chillies from earlier. We watched White Lines on Netflix later and Captain Caveman fell asleep in his deck chair – all this being a carer and socialising was wearing him out.

It was a slightly busier day in my world on Wednesday 20th May. Captain Caveman went off to Son Doong for 2 days for a marketing trip, meaning I had to fend for myself a lot more. It was hotter, I had breakfast of rice crackers and Laughing Cow cheese spread and then got on with some of the organising of my clutter.
While I hoped the world corona figures were reducing it didn’t look likely any time soon, there were 93,000 new cases, a further 50,500 recovered but 4,700 more deaths since yesterday. The UK had increased by 2,800 cases (to 248,800) but only a further 600 deaths (to 35,300) in a day. Turkey had increased by 900 cases and 200 deaths.
I did some exercises for my leg and found I could bend the knee more but still couldn’t straighten my leg without pain. Captain Caveman had arranged for us to go back to see the doctor for physio on Friday so I was hoping it would be a bit better by then. I had one of the leftover sausages for lunch and it gave me a bad stomach again so I was thinking I may have been accidentally glutened. I messed about with my avatar pictures and tried to find a more tired look but it didn’t have them. I noticed more comments on Facebook of people in the UK tiring of staying at home and deciding to go out or meet up with other people which annoyed me. I’d also never seen so many people desperate to do things outdoors they had never done before – one friend, not known for her activeness, had bought a bicycle!
I watched a couple of episodes of Love is Blind on Netflix and didn’t eat anything but popcorn for dinner because of my dodgy tum – at least I was getting more exercise getting to and from the spare bathroom.

I had planned for a lay in, with Captain Caveman being away, on Thursday 21st May, but unfortunately I woke up early because I was hungry. I wasn’t sure if my stomach would be able to tolerate the food I had in the fridge but I had nothing else in.
It was hot again, I did a COVID online survey and then checked in on the app. There were now over 5 million cases of Corona worldwide; a further 99,000 cases, with 4,800 more deaths and 63,000 recoveries the previous day. I braved what was left in the fridge and ate the last sausage (a different type to yesterday) and the rest of the veg and attempted more sorting drawer stuff out. Later I had some cheese and crisps and my stomach started to feel better.
Captain Caveman got back late and we ordered delivery from Phong Nha Underground for dinner, I had falafel salad, a new favourite of mine and Captain Caveman a burger. I had ordered garden rolls for me too but I decided to save them for tomorrow’s breakfast as we were off to Dong Hoi.

Phong Nha – 30 things I googled during a month of recuperation

Phong Nha – 30 things I googled during a month of recuperation

Not all my googling over the last 4 weeks of self-inflicted staying at home had been to argue with Captain Caveman. A lot of it was to help me recover from my ligament damage in my ankle and knee. A lot of my readers love a list, as do I, so here are my 30 Google searches:

1. BBC News
2. Ultrasound
3. World Life Expectancy statistics
4. English to Turkish translation
5. Houseboats in Turkey
6. English to Vietnamese translation
7. Ann Simmons
8. Rashmi chicken
9. Yanaba
10. Alpha-chymotrypsin
11. Ligaments diagram
12. Weather
13. What temperature will a human die at
14. X-ray clinic in Dong Hoi
15. Big Brother contestants 2010
16. MCL damage
17. Twitch in foot
18. After injury advice – barefoot or trainers
19. Sun-lounger cushions
20. CFL treatment
21. First steps after ankle ligament tear
22. Driving age in USA
23. Physio for torn ankle ligaments
24. Vitamin B12 injection
25. Getting my knee straight again
26. Herniated disc
27. Exercises to avoid with MCL injury
28. Michael Jordan
29. Standing on ankle again
30. Tacos

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of May

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of May

It had been 4 weeks since my drunken injury and my last drink of alcohol on Friday 15th May. Captain Caveman went to Oxalis to join the cavers and I had rice crackers and laughing cow for breakfast while I checked the Corona info. Vietnam had another 24 cases which had flown back from abroad and straight in to quarantine (they had been in Russia) and another 8 had recovered. The world had reported another 95,500 cases, 5,000 deaths and 45,000 recoveries. News articles mentioned relaxing lockdown rules in lots of places but to me it didn’t look like those countries proposing new rules had it under control. The UK now had 233,000 cases and 33,600 deaths – it was ridiculous. Today I was meant to be going from Sheffield to Marbella for my mate’s hen weekend so she was feeling sad but didn’t know we had a surprise online hen party planned for tomorrow instead.
Captain Caveman called to let me know he was going to bring me lunch and he would be back by 1pm at the latest. He arrived a sweaty mess at ten past with a tub of pork fried rice from Funny Monkeys, he’d already eaten. My food was fantastic and I ate most of the huge portion while Captain Caveman decided to clean the outside of half the accessible windows. The cleaner came and Captain Caveman went back out for a beer at Ho Khanh’s. I did my Turkish classes and read a little, while Lung swept around me. There was a nice sunset later but I couldn’t get a good photo because of still kot being able to walk. We ordered curry for dinner but this time I decided to have chips instead of rice and they were really good. Raj let Captain Caveman know that tomorrow there would be no power in Phong Nha from 7:30am to 5pm and so he decided he needed a plan to vacate the house, which would be like an oven. I had a bad stomach and went to bed early, dreading a day without AC.

The forecast was for a maximum of only 36°C on Saturday 16th May, the day without power. That didn’t seem too bad and because we had known about it in time to be a little prepared Captain Caveman and I were up early to get organised. At first we had discussed attempting to get me out somewhere so I wouldn’t be too hot but all the possibilities didn’t seem feasible and because there was no breeze I couldn’t see myself sat by a pool or river that I wouldn’t be able to get in to (or out of). Captain Caveman decided he would go out and I would stay in but he would keep in touch to make sure I was coping ok. I checked the NCOVI app, ate Laughing Cow and rice crackers for breakfast and had a can of orange Twister. Captain Caveman had left over curry, made me a flask of iced tea and went out about 8:30am. At this time it was already 29.3°C in the house but I still had all the curtains closed to block out the sun.
By 10:15am I had a wet flannel on my head in an attempt to keep cool and at 11am it was 33.1°C indoors.
The weather app said it was extreme UV and that a storm would be due at 3pm – I hoped it would be accurate this time. I watched the temperature go up slowly; 33.7°C at 11:20am, 34.1°C at 11:45am. How I bitterly regretted not being able to sip cocktails by a pool because of my own stupidity while celebrating the end of ‘lockdown’.
Captain Caveman came back briefly before going back out for lunch and he had brought me a tub of popcorn from The Villas!! Ideal for getting the salt back in the body which I might be sweating out and a very welcome treat (instead of lunch) while I read my book.
Instead of the predicted and much hoped for storm I was convinced the room was getting hotter, in fact I got obsessed with checking the temperature on both my phone and the wall hung thermometer. At 13:10 it was 34.7°C and I definitely felt too hot now. I had taken off most of my clothes and was putting wet towels on me. At 13:25 I started to feel like a hot dog in the back of a parked car in summer, it was 36.1°C. I had hardly any battery left on my phone, the phone itself was too hot to function properly and so I couldn’t Google at what temperature I was likely to die. I decided to try to open some windows but because of my being on crutches and the catches being too stiff I couldn’t open them. I messaged and called Captain Caveman but he didn’t answer.
By 2pm it was getting cooler and only 34.5°C but twenty minutes later the temperature was increasing again. Even Geoff, one of our younger geckos, couldn’t hack the heat and came to rest near the bed. By 15:15 it was 35°C there was not even a hint of a storm or cloud in the sky. I finally heard from Captain Caveman and he came home and opened some windows – he didn’t realise I wouldn’t be able to do them myself and his phone was on silent. By the time the power came back on at just after 5.30pm I was so dehydrated, despite drinking almost 5 litres of water/herbal iced tea. We ordered East Hill chicken and sticky rice for 6.30pm so we could be finished eating before the evening’s zoom party. At 8pm Captain Caveman took himself off to the spare room while I dialled in to the surprise hen party. Just before the bride joined the call Goldie, the gecko, fell off the ceiling and landed on my foot, when I tried to get her off she held on tight. I put her on my foot cushion and she hung around a bit longer. It was good to meet all the bridesmaids and hens and there were lots of games on the call, which were really funny! I couldn’t stay right to the end as I was conscious that Captain Caveman was ready for bed and he had been in to check if I had finished a few times, so I left the party early. It was the first party I’d been to without drinking, too!

The weekend didn’t particularly end on a high note. On Sunday 17th May there were 91,800 more corona cases, 53,600 new recoveries and a further 4,500 deaths across the world. The USA had 1.5 million cases now, Turkey had 148,000 and Vietnam had just had 4 more. The UK had reached 240,000 cases and 34,400 deaths as their lockdown still continued. Captain Caveman wasn’t in a good mood with me and went to visit a friend, I had my usual breakfast washed down with an orange Twister drink and herbal tea. I did some Turkish lessons and was finding them quite tricky now. For lunch I helped myself to leftover curry and then continued to read and rest my leg a bit further. By 3pm Captain Caveman was back and we had a bit of a scare when the power went off, unexpectedly, for a minute! I could not have taken another powercut, plus the family zoom call was booked in for 4pm (our time). I decided Captain Caveman should join the call without me sat beside him this week; one, for comfort as I was on the sofa with my leg propped up in a dress and two, he can chat more freely with his family without me interrupting. I did get to say hello to the family though and at least it was nice to hear Captain Caveman speak – when he’s at home I hardly hear a word out of him and because I’ve not been anywhere, or have nothing new to talk about, he’s happier on his phone all the time.
Just before 6pm I needed to visit the spare room for the toilet, as I came out of the bathroom my crutch slipped from underneath me and I had a fall. Luckily I did happen to be wearing the only dress I have with pockets in which I had my phone in. I called, texted and Facebook messaged Captain Caveman for some help but he didn’t answer!! I managed to pull my self up by grabbing the door frame and sliding myself on the floor. I made it to the bed and lay down with my throbbing ankle on a pillow.
When Captain Caveman realised the situation he came to check on me and said he had put his phone on silent because of me complaining it makes a beeping sound too often – he hadn’t seen the missed calls or messages because he had been making me more tea and getting me more ice. We ordered Phong Nha Underground delivery for dinner and I had pork with rice and veg for the first time – it was amazing and I couldn’t believe I had not seen it on the menu before now. Captain Caveman had a burger with some potatoes which also looked good. Later that night there was a storm from behind the mountains and we saw a lightening show. Finally some rain came but it didn’t last long.

Phong Nha – the 2nd week of May

Phong Nha – the 2nd week of May

I was very frustrated with myself on Monday 11th May as I still could not get out of the bathroom. I had to resort to bum shuffling, hopping between two side tables or asking Captain Caveman to lift me – my good leg was having none of it!
The Corona virus data showed that the UK had reported another 4,000 cases and 850 deaths since the previous day. The weather forecast said it was 100% chance of thunder storms and rain – we still had nothing. For breakfast I had my usual laughing cow cheese and rice crackers but was starting to miss other breakfast options that I used to have, like pho or bacon, beans and potatoes. I kept up with exercises on my knee but I’d been finding it difficult to straighten my leg fully without it being painful – Captain Caveman took a photo of me sat on the couch with it almost straight.
It was leftover Namaste for lunch followed by snacks of peanut M & Ms which were being offered as an incentive if I could get out of the bathroom on my crutches – I still couldn’t do it and I got upset. For dinner we tried something new from Underground, the falafel salad and it tasted really nice. We started watching Win the Wilderness on Netflix which is an interesting game show and we ate some jellies.

It was a good day on Tuesday 12th May and it started with a rare appearance from George. He’s the biggest and oldest of our geckos and he’s been sleeping in the used beer can box and going out most nights but this morning he fancied a climb up the bedroom wall. Captain Caveman made me a flask of iced tea and I got to help him by drying the pots. For breakfast we had leftover curry with carrots and hummus while I caught up on the Corona news. Vietnam had another 8 recoveries, no new cases and still no deaths, although the British, overweight, pilot was needing a lung transplant and his prospects weren’t too promising. There were 75,000 new cases, 3,000 deaths and another 34,000 recoveries throughout the world in the last day.
Before lunch I decided we needed to tackle the issue of my good leg still having stage (bathroom step) fright so I decided Captain Caveman would build me a simple obstacle course for me to practice stepping. After plenty of times, making myself step over Chris Evans on the cover of his book, I had mastered it and was ready to try it in the bathroom – finally we had retrained my good leg and it worked!!
To celebrate we had an indoor picnic lunch and Captain Caveman even got the chocolate out, without being asked. In the evening we had the BBQ chicken and sticky rice from East Hill which was one of our favourite delivery options. Our Netflix choice was to continue with the game show called Win the Wilderness which was based on British couples competing to win a home in the Alaskan Wilderness and I quite enjoyed it.

Wednesday 13th May marked the fourth anniversary of me writing these blog posts. I had started it and then got too busy with work and left off but now that I’m a lady of leisure I’ve been keeping up with it much more. I even started to write more posts to fill in the gaps, especially as my reader numbers were growing and I enjoyed doing it.
While Captain Caveman headed out for breakfast with a promise to bring me back some fruit salad from Coffee Station I did my usual routine of data checking and language lessons. There were 3 more recoveries in Vietnam and no more new cases while the world stats showed a massive 75,000 recovered, 86,000 new cases and 5,500 more deaths for the previous day. The UK now had 226,000 cases and 32,600 deaths with no way of knowing the correct recovery rate.
After doing my jobs I noticed it was getting towards lunchtime but there had been no sign or word from Captain Caveman and my breakfast. At 11:45am I got too hungry to wait and ate the left over chicken and a snickers for my brunch. At 12:45 I messaged Captain Caveman to cancel my breakfast but, again, no response but he eventually called me to ask if I wanted some lunch, as he’d lost track of time chatting to a friend. As I’d already eaten I said I’d prefer an early dinner so when Captain Caveman returned about 2:45pm we decided to order from Vung Hue that evening.
Captain Caveman went with friends to the floating boat restaurant for beers and he promised to be back by 6.30pm to pay for and take the takeaway delivery (I still can’t get down the stairs to the front door). Ha from Vung Hue arrived a little early and was let in the house by our housemate – I was just getting comfy for the evening when he came in to the room with some ribs and rice!!
I tried messaging and calling Captain Caveman but no answer, I had no money to pay Ha, the Vung Hue guy, and then the poor bloke started opening the food up and generally being so nice and helpful in this embarrassing situation. Eventually Captain Caveman answered the phone and said he was 8 minutes away, meaning he was still at the bar, so poor Ha had to wait.
To say I had the face on was an understatement and for once Captain Caveman let me eat the most ribs without shovelling them in like I would steal them.
It was clear now that Captain Caveman was tiring of looking after me and he even mentioned paying someone to come in to do it! I wished my leg was working too, mainly so I could kick him!

I was still out of sorts of Thursday 14th May and I tried my hardest to do the knee exercises – I just wanted to be able to walk again! It was so hot and my exercises weren’t going well and were a little painful and made me feel queasy. My phone was playing up and kept draining battery for no reason and so Captain Caveman told me how to do a virus check on it. He was trying to make amends but without actually saying sorry. He left to go to Coffee Station and then came back with a fruit salad for me.
In the afternoon he went over to the Farmstay while I had a visit from the cavers. For lunch I had crisps and I noticed in the afternoon that my toes were numb and had to massage them.
On the way home Captain Caveman went to Phong Nha Underground and picked up some dinner. He had spaghetti and meatballs, which looked amazing, while I had the tasty beef stew. That afternoon Captain Caveman had agreed to buy a sofa from a friend, which was much comfier than the seating arrangements we currently have so I was pleased about that.
I tried explaining to Captain Caveman that I was also annoyed at my leg situation but if it was the other way round I would be looking after him really well. He got mad that I could even think he wasn’t doing enough for me and told me I was useless!!
I’m normally quite patient but this time I lost it and for the first time that I remember, I told him to F-off!

Le Domaine de Tam Hai Resort – May 2019

Le Domaine de Tam Hai Resort – May 2019

This time last year we were about to leave Phong Nha for a holiday, part of which included a trip to one of the best places I’ve stayed in Vietnam. As I’m currently immobile, aside from my crutches, I’m hoping for a return trip to help my recuperation. Here’s my experience which I wrote last year:

Our train on Wednesday 29th May (2019) from Dieu Tri station was due to leave at 08.39 and Captain Caveman had already got tickets online via because he can use his Vietnamese bank card. As we were travelling in the daytime we got soft seats on the train to Tam Ky from our previous location near Quy Nhon.
On arrival at Tam Ky, later than planned because of a delayed train, we were met with pushy taxi drivers. Eventually we got a taxi and Captain Caveman gave the driver instructions for where to go. It was soon obvious that the driver didn’t have a clue where we were going as he tried to drive to an island instead of taking us to a port to go across by boat. Captain Caveman had arranged for the manager of our next ‘hotel’ to send a driver to collect us. First he directed the taxi to Tam Hoa where there was a small restaurant with a little jetty to get in the speedboat.
After a short (but exhilarating) ride we arrived at the jetty of Me Domaine de Tam Hai Resort where we were going to be staying for 3 nights.
We had a lime juice welcome drink and then we were shown to our villa (number 8) which was gorgeous. The whole place is on its own island with beach sand as the path to and from the reception an the villas, etc.
We had a late lunch sat by the water washed down with a bottle of chardonnay. I even managed to get the bikini on and one of my new dresses which was ideal for beach or pool lounging.
The cocktail happy hour was 5-7pm so we had to partake in a couple of margaritas before dinner. Prior to dining that evening a short storm came and cooled the temperature down a little so we ate in the bar area and drank wine. The manager confirmed we were the only guests and we chatted until quite late over a few drinks.

With just 2 days left of May and 5 left of my holiday from work I was so relaxed.
I had 5 walnut halves before breakfast (yes I was carrying them around for emergency nourishment purposes), on Thursday 30th May, then had orange juice, green tea, bacon and potatoes. We were allowed to take the speedboat out, borrow kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, bicycles or a motorbike to go and explore but instead we decided to chill out and do nothing except for make use of the pool, eat and drink (nothing new).
For lunch I had a delicious green papaya and shrimp salad with almost all of the bottle of chardonnay I said I would have just the one glass of. The guests who were meant to arrive to occupy 5 villas didn’t come and so, apart from a family who came to have a drink and check out the facilities (take selfies by the pool), we had the place to ourselves again.
We pre-ordered some seafood for the evening meal and so we went off to get ready for dinner this time, making sure we still had time for a couple of happy hour cocktails. Of course it is a small world so while having a drink with the manager we discussed how we knew a mutual friend who me and my friends know as the Judith Chalmers of the Insurance world, she had been here the week before us!
Our dinner was so tasty; Captain Caveman had scallops and clams (I had a couple of scallops despite being allergic to them) and I had the king prawn thermidor. The food was excellent, we already had some wine because the manager had insisted on us finishing off the wine she had opened for my cheese sauce! The three of us finished the night drinking wine and exchanging stories until well in to the night with the sound of the water rippling at the jetty and the odd bird or gecko noise.

Friday 31st May was our last full day here and of course I wished we were staying longer. We ate breakfast of pho bo, fruit and green tea by the water’s edge and then lounged outside our villa.
I had a fairly healthy lunch of chicken skewers with salad and steamed rice but couldn’t resist sharing a bottle of the pinot grigio with Captain Caveman. By the time it got to happy hour we were by the pool awaiting cocktails and chatting with the manager, who we really got on well with. That evening we had a lovely meal with more wine and stayed up chatting, listening to music and meeting the manager’s very scared dog, Lola, until gone 1am. Staying at Le Domaine, Tam Hai, had certainly helped me with my burn out and exhaustion that I think had been experiencing and on Saturday 1st June I had a big lay in!
Granted we were drinking until late but I actually fully slept in a dark and quiet room until 8.30am. Captain Caveman was the last out of bed as he felt a bit fragile, so much so that when he got his omelette at breakfast he didn’t look too clever. After eating he went back to bed while I packed, as the speedboat and taxi weren’t booked until 3pm – we were off to Danang for our last couple of nights.
We said our farewells to the manager with promises to keep in touch and hoping we would be back some day, then took the quick boat trip across to Ben Pha Tam Hai where our taxi driver was waiting.

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Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of May

Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of May

On Friday 8th May I woke up aching everywhere but my arms were particularly sore and I felt pretty shit. We were still waiting for these illusive storms to come and cool Phong Nha down but it wasn’t looking likely. Vietnam had a further 17 infections of Corona virus from Vietnamese people returning from abroad which were luckily already in quarantine and 1 more person had recovered. The world had 94,500 more cases, 5,000 more deaths and 41,000 recovered. The UK had hit an alarming 30,000 deaths now and were second to USA in the amount of people to die from Corona virus, they had 206,000 cases in total which ranked 4th in the world.
I’d wore my new bandages which Captain Caveman had picked up in Dong Hoi the day before and found they were very good but incredibly tight, so I kept icing and elevating as much as possible. Captain Caveman went out to get my prescription while I got on with Turkish lessons, writing and eating! For lunch I decided to eat peanut M&Ms – now that I had discovered they were gluten free I was addicted to them.
For dinner we had Phong Nha Underground takeaway; burger for him and tamarind chicken for me. After, we watched more episodes of Ozark on Netflix. I called my parents too who were keeping themselves busy and were going to continue to stay at home even if the UK did reduce any lockdown rules. It had been 3 weeks since I had been out for a drink and had not gone this long without alcohol for a longtime. The strange thing was, I didn’t miss it.

When I woke up on Saturday 9th May I still ached and realised that it was probably dehydration, having not been out or done anything too exerting in a while. It was hot and sunny and I chose to stay in my PJs (well, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt designated for lounging/sleeping in). I had my usual rice crackers and laughing cow for breakfast with a pot of oolong tea made by Captain Caveman (and I didn’t even have to ask)!
Vietnam had 8 more recovered cases and I checked in as healthy on the NCOVI app. I asked Captain Caveman if we could look at my scan and x-ray pictures so he held them up to the bedroom window – there were lots of images but I’m not sure exactly what of! I later deduced (from Google, obviously) that it was definitely my medial collateral ligament in my knee and probably the CFL in my ankle which were the damaged ones. For lunch we had a bit of a picnic with what we had in the fridge and it was very nice indeed. One of our baby geckos, Goldie, was on the floor and showing off a little bit, letting us take photos and looking at us. Captain Caveman went out to get me the other half of my prescription which he had been unable to get the day before and some more paracetamol – I’d never taken so many tablets!
That evening we had East Hill chicken with sticky rice for dinner (I saved some for tomorrow’s lunch) and then watched more of Ozark, series 3! At 10pm it was 32° and there was still no visible signs of any rain or storms coming. The alarm was set (not that Captain Caveman needed it because he was always awake around 6am) as he was off to work in Tu Lan on Sunday – I would have the day to myself!

On Sunday 10th May it was very hot and still no rain had come on any of the times it had been forecast. Captain Caveman and I were up early and making sure I was set up for the day, I even had a flask of iced herbal tea made for me, to drink throughout the day. For breakfast I had cheese, cashews and rice crackers and my foot was looking much better. The tablets I am taking are stronger than I’m used to and I was feeling a bit fuddled. Captain Caveman said goodbye and off he went to Tu Lan with two of his colleagues, due back for dinner later. For lunch I had leftover East Hill chicken and rice with some carrot and hummus, the chicken was just as tasty but the rice really doesn’t keep well for the next day. I had a quick look at the Corona virus data but because it was a weekend it’s not always up to date – the UK now had 215,000 cases and 31,000 deaths. I saw loads of photos on Facebook of the VE 75th Anniversary celebrations over the weekend and some very concerning social distancing street parties which did not look safe the more drunk people got. I made a mental note to see if there was a spike in the amount of cases on 22nd May. Here in the house it was a rather sweaty afternoon with the temperature reaching 33.5° indoors (with the AC on). I learned more Turkish and Goldie, the Gecko, came to see me and walked around my crutches.
Captain Caveman arrived back from work earlier than expected at 4pm and we planned for a night in with (you guessed it) one of Raj’s curries. I managed a walk to the front window to look at some cows, which Captain Caveman took a photo of for me. I had a zoom call with some friends from back home which was fun and good to hear they were keeping safe and their spirits up, despite how long they have been having to stay at home for.
We finished the last of Ozark on Netflix and then got ready for bed. I was on my way out of the bathroom when something odd happened. Our bathroom has two steps which I have to go up to get out and I had been doing it with no problem, until now. As I went to step up my bad foot went to step on the floor and my good foot just froze and would not move. I don’t know if it was a physical thing or if I was just tired but I tried it a few times and each time my good leg refused to move! I was frustrated and upset that Captain Caveman had to lift me out of the bathroom.

Phong Nha – a trip to Dong Hoi hospital

Phong Nha – a trip to Dong Hoi hospital

Finally I decided we needed to go to a clinic about my injury on Thursday 7th May. I can hear some of you sighing and rolling your eyes at me for not going earlier and I’m sorry, I probably should have. The effort it took to get me out of the house though was pretty full on and I know I definitely would not have been able to manage it on day 1. So here I was on day 20, since the drunken incident which left me unable to walk or straighten my knee, donning shorts and porter sandals – I was rocking it!
First of all it took me a long time to get down the 4 sets of stairs on my bum. The stairs were dusty, slippy and of varying heights which doesn’t help and the bits in between each set were pretty dirty. Captain Caveman had prepared a bag with hand gel, drinking water and a bumbag for my phone and stuff. Once downstairs I saw that our drive was completely covered in rice on tarpaulins all the way to the car! I worried I would slip but it turns out rice husks are quite grippy on crutches. I decided to get in the back seat, this was the first time I’d left the house in almost 3 weeks, and I was already a sweaty mess desperate for the AC. I wobbled a bit on the uneven slope down to the road but Captain Caveman helped me by shouting at me, out of sheer frustration.

Photos by Captain Caveman

Captain Caveman had to drive slowly as I was quite uncomfortable but we got to the clinic, met Bao (Oxalis guide and our translator) and attempted to get inside. There were numerous parked motorbikes, uneven paving and shiny steps to navigate but I made it and numerous staff came to help me. I saw some seats and headed for a sit down but that was not to be, I had to go up to the second floor for an x-ray (again on my bum, up the flights of stairs). I was worn out when I got to the top and into the x-ray room and asked Captain Caveman for water, I didn’t even have time for a sip before the nurse was doing her thing.
Good news!!! Neither my ankle nor knee were broken! I bum-shuffled back down to the ground floor and the doctor did ultrasound scans to check for any signs of damage or fluid. I’m not sure what he found, if anything, but he said I needed to go to hospital for an MRI scan and that he would contact the hospital around the corner to let them know we were coming. The cost of x-ray and ultrasound was less than 500,000vnd (£17.50) and they were very thorough (except for the bright idea of having the x-ray machine upstairs when there was a perfectly good room downstairs)!
I got back in the car and we went to the Cuba hospital where I sat outside the locked toilets while Captain Caveman and Bao went to book me in and pay. (I didn’t know until afterwards that it cost around 3.5m dong for the MRI scan). They told me we had to come back for the MRI scan at 1.30pm and so we agreed to meet Bao back at the hospital just before. Captain Caveman drove us for lunch at Tree Hugger and the waiter had to help me to a seat because Captain Caveman insisted on going to park the car across the street. There was a guy we knew from Phong Nha there, who used to work at Easy Tiger, so we had a chat but I was a bit uncomfortable with my leg and we had to sit outside because it was the first seat I got to. We ordered passion fruit smoothies each, had free herbal tea and ordered some lunch. Captain Caveman had his usual egg salad sandwich while I had a salad. I was conscious I needed something light before going back to the hospital. After lunch I needed the toilet and so we had to get me inside Tree Hugger where Captain Caveman had to move tables and we had help from a kind man and the staff.

Back at hospital I sat waiting to go in without too much concern but when I got in the MRI room and realised what it involved I freaked out. I’m so claustrophobic anyway, the lack of language made it more difficult and we ended up having to have Captain Caveman in the room with me, holding my hand and trying to calm me down. I had the 20 minute knee one in a cold sweat panic attack mode but the 30 minute ankle one was a bit better, especially when Captain Caveman started dancing to keep me entertained.
By the time we got out (passing a stretchered man covered in blood) I was desperate for the loo and of course there was no toilet paper or soap in there! (Good job I had my hand sanitizer). We waited not more than an hour before we had to go in to the emergency room to see a doctor. I sat on a stretcher which still had a patch of some ‘mystery liquid’ where I placed my hand and a guy with a bleeding head injury was next to me. The doctor looked at my ‘photos’ on the light box then came over for a very thorough feel! He also asked if I had sprained my ankle before (which I had about 20 years ago) and then told Bao I had torn ligaments on the right side of my ankle and the left side of my knee, with a little bit of damage to my cartilage. My recommended treatment was to not move, or put weight on, the ankle at all and to exercise the knee only by trying to bend and straighten it as far as I could. He gave me a prescription for some stronger anti-inflammatory tablets and said I should rest for another 2 weeks then come back for a check up before starting some physio.
I was relieved we finally knew what was wrong and lucky it wasn’t worse.

On the way home, I was in pain from all the prodding and very tired but Captain Caveman said he would treat me to dinner out, since we had the car. For a treat Captain Caveman took me to Namaste so we could have Indian food and see Raj in person! He was actually so pleased to see me and it was lovely to see him too, especially to thank him for all the amazing takeaways we had been having. We had a delicious meal and we even met a cute puppy who lives next door. Back home Captain Caveman went ahead to put all the lights on and unlock the doors while I ‘crutched’ from the car to the house door. I got up steps on my bum and managed to get back in the house before Captain Caveman had been to drop the car off, so it wasn’t too bad! I was so tired that I nodded off while watching TV!

Phong Nha – the 1st week of May

Phong Nha – the 1st week of May

Our housemate had kindly brought us some cheese back from Dong Hoi on his last visit and so we had Gouda, Edam and a cheese spread in the fridge already. Captain Caveman had placed it in the door of the fridge for easy access and so on Monday 4th May I had some rice crackers and cheese spread for breakfast. I also managed to knock stuff out of the shelf in the fridge and pick it up without too much of a to-do. Captain Caveman and I had decided that he would leave the front curtains open but close the other 4 sets on the sides to stop the sun coming in and so I still had a view. Neither of us planned for the owner of the house opposite, putting his rice crop on the roof and raking it often – I could see him clearly when I got out of the shower, I don’t know if he could see me. I had slept well, spreading right across the bed to get comfy and had woke up just as the daylight came. I checked in on my app and saw that Vietnam had one more new Corona case which was unusual. He was a British man who worked in oil and had arrived by private plane and had been quarantined. The UK had reported another 9,000 cases and 500 deaths over the weekend. My stomach was still not good but I managed leftover Indian for lunch and had a salted lime drink to rehydrate me. In the afternoon I had a couple of visitors, one of who brought me some shopping from Momma D’s and so for dinner I ate 2 yoghurts and some gluten free biscuits.
I did a bit of Turkish and Facebook checking and then I resorted to an early night and Ozark on Netflix.

I woke up, after another good sleep, on Tuesday 5th May and checked the Corona data. In Vietnam 2 more people had recovered and the recovery rate was now at 81%. In the world stats there was another 40,000 recovered, 4,000 more deaths and 80,000 more cases in a day. The UK had reported another 3,000 cases making it 190,000 plus a further 700 deaths. The website I was using had also started to show the data in terms of per 1m population. The usual data showed that the USA had the most deaths in the world, followed by Italy and then the UK. The new data, based on population, showed that the UK was worse than the USA – that did nothing to help cheer me up.
It was very hot and I did some Turkish while I waited for my breakfast, which Caroline was bringing me from Coffee Station. For some reason my brain wasn’t doing too well and I kept making mistakes on the spelling. Caroline and Mr Higgins, the dog, arrived and we had breakfast together and a good chat. We also discussed going to hospital because she thought I should get checked out – she had been to a clinic in Dong Hoi, when she slipped and broke her wrist, which was cheap for x-rays and quick. She offered to organise a trip before Captain Caveman got back but I said I’d go with him and we could take a translator. Des messaged the group to let us know he was leaving Phong Nha in 1 hour and he was at Coffee Station if anyone wanted to join him. He had a teaching job in Dong Hoi so was off there but I was still unable to go out to say bye. My stomach was still bad, I was tired from ‘crutching’ back and forwards to the bathroom so I chilled out a bit in the afternoon and just ate cheese and gluten free biscuits for meals. The time had gone quick and Captain Caveman would be back tomorrow.

I had managed to survive without Captain Caveman but I didn’t mind admitting I was exhausted. On Wednesday 6th May I was up early as usual and had yoghurt and biscuits for breakfast. My foot wasn’t any different and so I had decided to ask Captain Caveman to arrange to get me to the clinic in Dong Hoi (somehow) as soon as possible. Captain Caveman had filled the kettle before he went so I could have a cup of herbal tea (or two) but unfortunately we had a family of ants living on the top of the water inside the kettle (they had formed an ant raft) – I don’t like ants but I didn’t want to kill them so I just drank water for 4 days. I checked in on the health app and saw in the Vietnamese news that Vietnam said they would continue to ban foreigners from entering the country unless it was vital and a 10 year old had relapsed to Corona. The UK now had 195,000 cases and 29,000 deaths but I kept seeing hints of relaxing lockdown rules (admittedly they were from Lisa on Facebook, not the government), especially as people were wanting to celebrate VE Day. It was unreasonably hot in Phong Nha and still not one drop of rain had fallen so it was even too hot indoors. We have a fan but I couldn’t move it to plug it in and do ‘crutching’ so I wore very little, the man opposite on the roof was used to it now! For lunch Caroline popped over with Phong Nha Vegan food and I wolfed down the eggplant stew. Captain Caveman had just arrived back and had already showered in the other room and he looked tanned and happy.
We had planned to have East Hill chicken for dinner but Captain Caveman was invited to the Floating Boat restaurant for a Son Doong after party at 5pm. He went to Oxalis on the way to arrange to borrow a car and one of the guides so we could go to the clinic in Dong Hoi the next day. Meanwhile from the (not at all comfy) sofa I tuned in to a virtual tour of Dalyan with Murat, live, as he drove around showing us the area. It was funny and I saw a few places I had never been to which looked good to try for my next visit. I was in bed when Captain Caveman arrived home, later than expected, absolutely smashed and unable to form proper words and sentences. I had very little sleep that night as he was laying on his back snoring the loudest I’d heard, for hours – it was nice to have him back!!

Phong Nha – the 1st weekend of May

Phong Nha – the 1st weekend of May

If it hadn’t been for the pandemic I would have been in my home town of Sheffield, England, today – Friday 1st May. Instead, I was still in Phong Nha, Vietnam, where I was allowed to go out but having to stay in, because of my injured leg. I remembered that Josh had done a list of swimming pools in Phong Nha he’d tested out before he left, so I decided to use that and add to it for another blog post – the weather was about to get unbearably hot so people may need a pool. I, on the other hand, still couldn’t walk and would be resigned to a sit down shower as my bit of water activity.

For breakfast I had rice crackers, cheese spread and oolong tea (yes, Captain Caveman was on form today). After his leftover pizza Captain Caveman went out shopping and running some errands but didn’t bring back any lunch. Instead I had some crisps and some peanut M&Ms while he was out as I got hungry and I was getting a little bored with crackers.
For dinner Captain Caveman brought back beef stew from Phong Nha Underground and I also ordered a side of bacon, potatoes and onion as a new dish to try but I didn’t enjoy that as much as I thought I would. I was a bit tired that evening but we managed to watch a film, called Toy Soldiers, which I thought was pretty good.

I had a random breakfast of chicken breast, hummus and rice crackers on Saturday 2nd May. I had a look at my injuries and tried to convince myself and Captain Caveman that I’d probably be walking by the time he got back from his 4 day caving tour (starting the next day). He went in to town for provisions and for his lunch and had taken a flask to get me some vegan soup from Veggie Box and I was really looking forward to it,a it had been closed for a while. The portion was huge and I got almost two bowls out of it and had plenty of rice noodles (bun) with it. Unfortunately I didn’t even finish it before I had a bad stomach – I’m sure my body must have gone in to shock at having had so many vegetables at once. That evening Captain Caveman went to collect a big order from Raj at Namaste which included lots of extras for me to have over the next few days.
Before an early night I checked the latest Corona virus data which I’d not done for 48 hours. Vietnam was two weeks after Directive 19 (where the social distancing and lockdowns and been eased) and still had minimal cases and no deaths. The UK had 12,000 more cases bringing it to 177,000 with 2,500 more deaths (27,500 in total) – it was not getting back to normal anytime soon by the look of it. I should have been at a wedding up north this particular weekend and it was upsetting to know friends who were being affected by the pandemic.
We went to bed with the alarm set for the first time in a while and I was about to attempt 4 days home alone from Sunday!

Captain Caveman was up early on Sunday 3rd May, eager to get back to work! He was so excited to be returning to Son Doong and I think he was also looking forward to a bit of a break from me. Whilst he’s not the most attentive person I’ve ever met he is very practical and forward planning so he had put a lot of effort in to making sure I would be prepared for my 4 days (3 nights) by myself. In the lead up to him going he’d also tried to increase the amount of independence I had by not doing everything for me as much so that I would be able to cope. He had rearranged the house furniture for better access to the kettle, groceries and (a very full) fridge. He’d left me towels, clothes and all my essentials in the right places to make it easy while on my crutches! He ate leftover curry for breakfast and then he said farewell and went to Oxalis for his briefing. The forecast was looking good (not that I would be going anywhere) and I had forgotten how hot Phong Nha could be! I had laughing cow cheese spread, hummus and rice crackers for breakfast and had a look at my leg, it seemed the ankle was doing a little better but the knee just wouldn’t take any weight or straighten. I checked the NCOVI app to see that there were still no more cases in Vietnam however the world had reported 83,000 new cases, 5,000 more deaths and 340,000 recoveries in the last day. I had chicken pakoda for lunch but my stomach was still a bit dodgy and I spent the rest of the afternoon going from one room to the other to use the bathroom. I didn’t eat any dinner but did a Turkish lesson and watched a couple of episodes of Ozark in bed before falling asleep.

Phong Nha – My Top 10 Food faves during April

Phong Nha – My Top 10 Food faves during April

While I’ve been staying at home for the month of April we have had to rely on takeaway and delivery food from the eateries that have been able to accommodate us in Phong Nha during this difficult period.
I’ve made a top 10 list of who was able to feed us and some of the dishes we enjoyed, both during the Corona social distancing in the first half of April and by my own foolish injury in the second. There are other places available too and these are not in any particular order.

1. Omar’s Namaste
Raj at Omar’s Namaste has been our saviour this month with some of the best service and the most consistently good food. I don’t generally eat lamb and can’t eat gluten but the filling in those lamb samosas are amazing. The chicken dishes I’ve had have all been great and we’ve been known to have leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner this month. Beers are cold and they have plenty of wine.
Eat in or takeaway.

2. East Hill
This place has got it right; a simple menu, perfectly cooked whole chicken and sticky rice with great packaging – not a plastic bag in sight!
Eat in, takeaway or free delivery in Phong Nha.

3. Phong Nha Coffee Station
I don’t know where we would be if my ‘carer’, Captain Caveman, couldn’t get his fix of espressos and eggs benedict in a morning. Johnny, the owner, is so helpful and friendly too – making sure all his customers are happy.
Eat in or takeaway.

4. Phong Nha Eatery
The new sibling of The Coffee Station offers customers some great dishes from a very accomplished chef. My favourites are the duck dishes!
Eat in or takeaway

5. Phong Nha Vegan
Neither of us are vegans but the dishes here are fantastic. I’ve always enjoyed the fresh spring rolls and mushroom Lalot but more recently have enjoyed the eggplant stew and sweet potato fries.
Takeaway or delivery

6. Lake House
This place opened recently to serve delicious pizzas to the area. Unfortunately I can’t eat them because of my gluten allergy but they look and smell amazing – so much that I took the toppings off and put them on rice crackers to try.
Delivery only

7. Vung Hue
One of the best and original Vietnamese restaurants in Phong Nha was our saviour for some pork. The ribs here are one of my favourite dishes. The food is consistently good and piping hot.
Eat in, takeaway or free delivery in Phong Nha

8. Oxalis Home
My favourite dish here is the chicken and cashew nuts served with steamed rice, the portions are generous and the restaurant is set by the river with stunning views.
Eat in

9. D’Arts
This restaurant has amazing bun cha, smoked sausage and spring rolls (as well as other dishes). It has comfy seating inside and a well stocked fridge with cold beers and ciders.
Eat in or takeaway

10. Phong Nha Underground
One of the best restaurants in Phong Nha for western/Italian meals. Captain Caveman always has the beefburger with extra cheese and bacon while I usually have tamarind glazed chicken, beef stew or garden rolls. You can also get a decent bottle of wine.
Eat in, takeaway or delivery (at a small cost)

Phong Nha – 20 things I googled during my self-inflicted #STFAH

Phong Nha – 20 things I googled during my self-inflicted #STFAH

We were allowed out from 16th April but because of a drunken injury I was no longer mobile enough to leave the house. I googled less because Captain Caveman was now able to go out and about much more, so there was less conversation. Here is a list of what I did look up in those last 2 weeks of April:

1. Sprained ankle
2. Broken ankle
3. Have I broken or sprained my ankle
4. RICE for injury
5. Injured ankle
6. Injured knee
7. Broken toe
8. Ligament injury
9. Natura Pu Luong
10. Cushions
11. Easy Jet
12. BBC News UK
13. Gathering for a death
14. Penelope Wilton
15. Peter Egan
16. Too Hot To Handle – what happened to the cast after the show
17. World Life Expectancy data
18. Garden furniture
19. Coccyx pain when sitting
20. Turkish lira exchange rate

Phong Nha – the last week of April

Phong Nha – the last week of April

My week started with a fruit salad. On Monday 27th April Captain Caveman went out early and ran some errands which included trying to find me some Voltaren gel and some eye drops. He had breakfast at Coffee Station, couldn’t get me my requests at the chemist but brought me more painkillers. My injuries were not getting better as quickly as I had hoped and it had been 10 days since the incident. I checked in on the NCOVI app and saw there were still no new cases, Vietnam remained at 270 cases with 225 recovered (83%) while the world as a whole showed they were seeing 73,000 cases per day, 40,000 recoveries per day and between 3,000 & 4,000 deaths per day now.
I learned some Turkish, did some writing and had Phong Nha Underground garden rolls for lunch. There was an amazing sunset which I could only see from inside the house but Captain Caveman took me a photo of it and we held hands – me on the sofa, him on a deckchair (how romantic). For dinner we had Namaste and I tried the saag aloo for a change, it tasted lovely. We finished watching After Life on Netflix and I laughed and cried in equal measures – it was brilliant.

Tuesday 28th April marked 4 whole weeks of staying at home, two of which were self inflicted! I’m lucky that I don’t get bored and can always find things to do so I was doing well and my Turkish was getting better. The day was a bit of a mixed bag though and the first bit of news I read was about 3 people in Vietnam who had recovered from the virus, had negative tests, gone to 14 days isolation following the all clear and then tested positive again.
I took some advice from a friend who had also injured herself (in a less embarrassing sports incident) and consulted with a couple of people in the medical profession. My leg was still not right and we came to the conclusion I had done something to my ligaments, hence the slow progress.
Breakfast was Phong Nha Underground leftovers while looking at the nice views out of the window. Lunch was leftover Indian from Namaste and dinner was from Phong Nha Vegan.
That night we continued with the movie nights and plumped for Darkest Hour which was good but it was a bit slow in parts and my concentration waned a bit. After that we went for Too Hot to Handle, a series where the contestants of a show are not allowed to get jiggy – hilarious!

After a breakfast of rice crackers, hummus and cheese with oolong tea, on Wednesday 29th April, I decided to try some of the exercises for my ankle and knee but failed. In the news Vietnamese schools were given permission to reopen after 3 months of being closed, providing they adhered to strict measures. Word came from Oxalis that Captain Caveman would be on tour from 3rd – 6th May so we needed to get me less dependent on him before that. He went out shopping and he met up with Des at D’Arts – our favourite bun cha place had reopened. He brought me back a takeaway of some veggie spring rolls which were delicious. I also tried to deal with rescheduling my cancelled flight to the UK which I wanted to move to 2021 but couldn’t because the dates weren’t out yet for flight only.
We watched more Too Hot to Handle on Netflix and ate some snacks from Phong Nha Shop & Go.
At 00:24 Captain Caveman and I were still sat watching TV when a loud noise, like a cross between thunder and a runaway truck, came from my left side. We looked at each other and then it got very loud and the whole house shuddered, as if a truck had driven in to the side of the house. It was gone as quickly as it arrived and I sent Captain Caveman to go and have a look what it was. It was an earthquake, the first one I had experienced in Phong Nha. We stayed up a bit longer to be able to find out where the earthquake had been but it took a while for it to be updated on the internet, not like in Turkey where it is virtually straight away. Instead we read posts on Facebook from scared locals and shocked expats. Des in Phong Nha town had felt it and people in Dong Hoi had felt it too.

The day I should have been flying from Dalyan, Turkey to Manchester, England was Thursday 30th April. It felt a bit weird not knowing when or if I would be back in England this year and it didn’t cheer me up to read the Corona data (which I’d stopped doing daily now).
The USA trip in July was most definitely off now, they had over 1 million cases and 61,000 deaths. The UK had increased cases by 8,000 (at 165,000 now) and deaths by 5,000 (a worrying 26,000) in the last 2 days – it was looking likely they were heading to ‘beat’ Italy. I had hummus and rice crackers for breakfast but no pot of tea as Captain Caveman had to go to Oxalis. He came back at lunch and ordered Lake House pizza and I had some topping on rice crackers.
When Captain Caveman had been out he had spotted some chicks on our drive and took a photo of them, he also saved a geckos life. She was a tiny baby and was confused and thirsty so he set her down on a tray with a spot of water and near to the curtain for shelter. We called her Goldie and kept checking on her.
For dinner we had the BBQ chicken and sticky rice from East Hill again, which was great. We settled down to watch the last of Too Hot to Handle and it turned in to a later night than expected on the last day of the month.

Phong Nha – the last weekend of April

Phong Nha – the last weekend of April

This time last week I was looking forward to our first night out in a while but on Friday 24th April my ankle and knee would still not allow me to be that flexible. The leg looked better but still hurt and Captain Caveman was getting a bit peeved that I couldn’t get up the steps out of the bathroom without using tables to support me – I didn’t trust the crutches and by the time he would have got up to help me I could do it quicker. I checked the stats on Corona and although Vietnam seemed to be doing extremely well at preventing cases and deaths I was starting to get a bit cheesed off at some people not taking it seriously in other countries. Vietnam had 268 cases, Turkey was on 101,000 cases and over 2,400 deaths while the UK were on 138,000 cases and 18,000 deaths.
For breakfast I had rice crackers again, which Captain Caveman assured me he had checked for ants, but I had to send them back for ant removal as they were still covered in them! After triple checking and Captain Caveman admitting he didn’t thoroughly check because he likes ants, I ate them with cheese, gherkins and a pot of oolong tea. It was Des’s birthday and I felt bad that I wouldn’t be able to get out to celebrate with him at Momma D’s quiz night. I did more writing and learning Turkish then Captain Caveman decided he was having Lake House pizza again for lunch. I decided because they were on special offer to have the topping off the Hawaiian but to not eat the base and Captain Caveman had a meaty one and some of the Hawaiian.
In the evening it wasn’t great weather and Captain Caveman said he didn’t want to go to the quiz but I knew it was because he worried he wouldn’t win it without me! Instead we had a takeaway from Namaste, which was as impressive as usual, then we watched something on Netflix but I have no idea what and probably fell asleep.

It had now been a week since I had drunkenly fallen and injured myself during our first night of freedom after ‘lockdown’. Saturday 25th April was a fairly lazy day for me, but aren’t they all now. I had 2 rice crackers and 2 laughing cow cheeses with water for breakfast as Captain Caveman had to nip to Oxalis for something. I wasn’t capable of transporting a cup or pot of tea so I missed out there. I did the RICE process for the leg and some Turkish lessons before Captain Caveman returned and we had leftover Indian food for lunch.
The Vietnamese authorities had released Directive 19 which now explained how the whole country would continue to conduct itself through the pandemic. I’d managed to not look at the data until later in the day but it was not good news back home. I had a Facebook call with my parents and it was funny to see how much their hair was growing and although they had strictly being adhering to the #STFAH rules they had some amusing stories to tell and it cheered me up. The cleaner came, a day later than planned, and was touching my foot to see what was wrong with it – she speaks no English and she just kept chatting on and shaking her head. Captain Caveman managed to pop out somewhere, probably for a few beers or to get me some snacks.
In the evening we had a marvellous dinner from Phong Nha Underground where I tried the beef stew with garlic potatoes and it was spot on. We decided to watch a couple of episodes of the second series of After Life with Ricky Gervais in. It was brilliant and instead of crisps and sweets I ate some dried mango that had been in the fridge for ages – it was the first time I’d tried it and it was pretty good.

Sunday 26th April was a bit more lively (luckily for you readers who must be getting bored especially as, by now, I was meant to be flaunting my after lockdown shenanigans to all of you who are still stuck indoors). I could see where I had hurt my leg a bit clearer now, I was able to touch the sore bits and what I had overlooked is my toe, where there were the two cuts, it was very fat and I think I had broken it. I managed to have a lovely breakfast which I had ordered ahead so that I would definitely get a pot of tea with my rice crackers and laughing cow.
Vietnam had 5 more recovered Corona cases and I didn’t bother looking at the rest of the world data. As it was Sunday we thought a nice BBQ chicken with sticky rice, from East Hill, for lunch would be just the ticket and I was still eating it when it was time for the family zoom call. It was a good catch up again and I liked listening to the funny stories with Captain Caveman, his brothers, parents, sister-in-laws and nephews and niece.
Momma D’s was having a Cards against Humanity night with pizza which I would have gone to if I could but instead we had another zoom call with some of the Berlin 10, which was really good. Afterwards we watched more After Life and I iced my foot with a super cold can of Twister.
In summary it wasn’t a bad weekend and a good job I’m used to occupying myself.

Phong Nha – 12 Things you can do here

Phong Nha – 12 Things you can do here

Are you already in Phong Nha with free time on your hands? Or maybe you are thinking of a visit to get out of the city? Places and attractions are starting to open again and so here’s my list of things you could do as soon and this weekend:

1. Yoga at 7:30am and sunset each day at Phong Nha Farmstay.

(Photo from Phong Nha Farmstay)

2. Phong Nha cave – take the boat from the tourism centre.

3. Ozo park – nice for a walk around, a picnic or to try the zipline.

4. Jungle Boss have great trekking tours.

(Photo by Uy at Jungle Boss)

5. Kayaking is available at Oxalis, Ho Khanh’s, Victory Road Villas, A Little Leaf or Lucky Homes.

6. Paradise Cave – enjoy the walk up to the cave as well as the formations inside.

7. Nuoc Moc – stop off for some fun in the water.

(Photo from Phong Nha Ke Bang tourism)

8. Dark Cave – don’t wear white swimsuits!

(Photo from Nguyen Le Chieu)

9. Botanical Gardens – choose your walk through the beautiful gardens.

10. Dr Sy’s Magic Fingers – get a wonderful massage or enjoy a steam treatment.

11. Di Di Thoi boat tours have great sunset cruises that are picturesque and relaxing.

12. Ride a bicycle ride around the area, take some photos of the scenery and wave hello to the locals.