Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of July

Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of July

It was 3am on Friday 10th July when I woke up with a fast-pacing heart and feeling super alert. The medication I had taken was having a bit of a reaction and I was feeling slightly panicky. I made use of the bad situation when I knew I was beyond relaxing and got on and did several Turkish lessons and lots of blog writing which I was lagging behind on. I had the usual Nam Long Plus hotel breakfast of pho and they also gave me homemade yoghurt and banana this time.
My leg, despite the drugs, was still feeling a bit of pain and so I did a few exercises to try to help – I was definitely getting more flexible but I was worried the tablets were too strong.
For lunch I ordered beef and veg rice plate, fried veggie spring rolls and peach tea from Tree Hugger and I am now a massive fan of iced peach tea. I saved half of my lunch for my dinner. Physio was interesting, the heat treatment had started to feel nice and relaxing for a change and after 15 minutes the therapist had to come and get me as I was almost asleep. Thuy told me I had taken the medicine in the wrong order and that instead of having all 4 things after a meal I should have taken omeparazole on an empty stomach, half an hour before eating. The Gastropulgite I was also meant to have before eating and on an empty stomach, then I should take the methylprednisolone and meloxicam after the food. She told me I had done it wrong and to try again, that it was strong but it would work if I gave it chance. I messaged a couple of trusted people in the medical profession back home who also thought I should persist. I said I would think about it and didn’t take any that night as I still wasn’t falling asleep by 10pm. Captain Caveman had returned from a successful Son Doong trip and would be meeting me in Phong Nha tomorrow for a couple of days break together.

Captain Caveman and I had another treat planned for Saturday 11th July but first I had my early morning physio session. I had Nam again and he is really good with my foot, spending time sorting out my toes which still seem to be suffering from some sort of nerve damage. Thuy escorted me outside after the session and she got involved with some photo taking as well as a quick update to my translator. I had my trusty Phuong, of Phuong’s Transfers, pick me up from the physio just after 10am where Captain Caveman had us go to buy a screwdriver from the hardware store on the corner. The owner was pressure washing the floor outside the shop and so Phuong, armed with a photo of the required screwdriver, went in to get it for us – he even had a go on the pressure washer! Mission accomplished for only 25,000 vnd (85p) and then a phone call to Captain Caveman to double check it was ok before heading back to pick up my bag from the hotel. Phuong went to get my bag from my room because the staff were busy, as well as checking I had everything and carrying my bags.

I’d arranged to meet Captain Caveman and Veronika for lunch at Phong Nha Farmstay and they were already waiting when I arrived. We had booked in for 2 nights in one of the pool villas again and I was excited, this time we were in Gypsy villa. First we had lunch by the main pool, I remembered to take my medication in the right way this time and all seemed ok. I had the chicken with fried rice while Captain Caveman had pizza (his favourite) and Veronika had soup with quesadillas.
At the villas I had a swim and then I managed to get to the sunken seated patio area where we sat and shared a bottle of white wine. After more swimming, walking in the pool for me, I had a lovely bubble bath in the outdoor bathroom and then we sat outside, next to the private pool, for some drinks. A frazzled Veronika joined us after babysitting all day and we shared some wine but she wasn’t able to join us for dinner. Captain Caveman had the burger and I had the duck, with more wine. I was certainly looking forward to sleeping in one of the comfiest beds in Phong Nha again.

Sunday 12th July was amazing; I had a walk down from the pool villa to the main breakfast area of Phong Nha Farmstay and Captain Caveman took a video of me crutching down the ramp – I was getting better at it! I had bacon, mushrooms and beans while he had sausages and scrambled eggs for breakfast. We spent most of the morning either in or around the pool and I tried my best to resist the crisps which had been added to the mini bar! For lunch I had the fresh spring rolls and Captain Caveman had yet another pizza. More pool action was had in the afternoon and then the temptation of the crisps was too much and we had to have them, along with a bottle of wine – that mini bar is just too well-stocked!!!
By late afternoon I’d also had a red berries rekorderlig cider (the first time in well over a year) which was very refreshing. I treated myself to another bubble bath and in the evening Veronika joined us for a drink, this time we shared a bottle of red wine. Captain Caveman had bun cha for dinner and I had the beef in bamboo. It was such a lovely day and I was pretty tired by 10pm when we went to bed. Tomorrow I was about to embark on my 5th week of physio (and possibly my last) starting my 50th hour in the afternoon.

Photo credits; Phuong, Thuy, Thuy, Captain Caveman, Veronika

24 things I googled in the 1st half of July

24 things I googled in the 1st half of July

In reverse alphabetical order here is a list of all the things I googled in the first 2 weeks of July. This certainly gives you an idea of the types of conversations I’m having with the people around me.

1. World Life Expectancy
2. Weather
3. Vinpearl, Dong Hoi
4. Vietnamese to English translation
5. Using one crutch properly
6. Turkish to English translation
7. Should you walk on sand with healing ligaments
8. Sunblock
9. Pins & Needles
10. Meloxicam
11. Methylprednisolone
12. Hollandaise sauce
13. Grapefruit deaths
14. Gastropulgite powder
15. Fred Dibnah
16. Firey or Fiery in USA
17. English to Vietnamese translation
18. Earthquake Turkey today
19. Diptheria
20. Cream soda
21. Cinema, Dong Hoi
22. Beach on crutches
23. Actors with wavy grey hair
24. Ankle ligaments and toe stiffness
25. Age requirement for a Facebook account

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 2nd week of July

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 2nd week of July

My week started having breakfast at the Phong Nha Farmstay on Monday 6th July with Keith. He had come over to pick up his motorbike and so we met up one more time before I headed back to Dong Hoi. Keith attempted poached eggs on toast but had to settle for fried while I had bacon, beans and mushrooms.
My physio sessions had so far totalled 35 hours and I was about to embark on another 2 hours per day for the next week. I had already booked a car to take me to Dong Hoi when Caroline and Andrew said they were going and we could share the car and had contacts who could get a cheaper fare. The two of them were booked in to physio from 2pm and so we had time for lunch at a local cafe which Andrew (and Tatas) both recommended, called Nha Hang A Tran. I had a rather tasty My Quang and a can of twister, the food was very cheap and the place had steps up to it which I managed to get up unaided. After physio, which went really well, I went back to the Nam Long Plus hotel where Thuy, the receptionist, made a video of me trying some local food which they had made at the hotel – it was really tasty. Captain Caveman came out of Son Doong but had his next briefing that night and so he would be back in the cave the next day. For dinner I tried a place recommended to me by Phuong, of Phuong’s Transfers, called Com Tam Saigon. I wanted to try the ribs without chillies so asked for help from Thuy to order it – I got chicken, steamed rice and veg with chillies and although it tasted really good I had a bad stomach straight after.

I didn’t bother with breakfast on Tuesday 7th July because my stomach was still dodgy from the night before. I chilled out, did some Turkish, wrote a bit and watched Netflix before ordering a lunch delivery from Tree Hugger. I was feeling really hungry by lunchtime so I had fried veggie spring rolls, french fries, a passion fruit smoothie and complimentary herbal tea. I also ordered fruit salad with yoghurt to put in the fridge for later. As I was leaving the hotel the staff were all making more local food and this time Banh Loc, so I ordered some for tomorrow to take to physio. At physio Thuy, the boss, got to work on my leg and gave it a really good session. The other members of the Triple Cripple Club (Andrew and Caroline) were also there and they looked like they were definitely experiencing more pain than me.
Back at the Nam Long Plus hotel I had my fruit salad, a relaxing bath and chilled out. For dinner I had chicken fried rice from 7th Heaven which was really good and they remembered not to put chillies in.
Before bed I did a tally of the corona virus data to find that while Vietnam had reported another 14 cases and 7 recoveries in the last week, something odd had gone on with the UK figures. They had adjusted the amount of cases reported to 23,500 less than on the 1st of the month (even though the previous day had 900 cases recorded) but had reported 700 deaths in the last week. Turkey had remained similar to the previous week and were reporting 7,900 cases and 100 deaths for the first week of July.
By the 7th July there were almost 12 million cases and nearly 6,000 deaths reported worldwide.

When I woke up on Wednesday 8th July my knee was a bit sore but my ankle swelling had gone. I had pho bo, orange juice and a banana at the hotel for breakfast and then got on with some more writing and Turkish practice. I had a Tree Hugger lunch again but this time chose a beef and veg rice plate with passion fruit smoothie and herbal tea.
Physio was busy especially now that the Triple Cripple Club had taken over and the Banh Loc I took were well received . Andrew was getting the full treatment from his therapist and looked in agony. On the way back to the hotel I went to the ATM and my card got declined twice so I was a bit concerned but when I checked on the online banking system there was nothing wrong with it. That evening I had pork and veg fried rice from 7th Heaven again and an orange, then relaxed with a bit of Netflix.

My breakfast was the usual pho bo, orange juice and tea at the hotel on Thursday 9th July. For lunch I just had some bananas before heading off to my physio session. Today marked 14 days since the news in England showed hundreds of people on the beaches and I wondered if this would be reflected by an increase in the number of Corona cases or deaths but as the figures had been reduced to show a minus figure I couldn’t tell.
At physio Thuy and I discussed pain management and she gave me some fairly strong medication along with some stomach medicine to offset any side effects – I had to take one of each that night.
Tree Hugger is open daily until 6pm and so I pre-ordered a chicken salad for dinner which was delicious and enabled me to take all my medicine – I didn’t realise at the time but it was taken in the wrong order. After an hour any pain had gone, I could pick up a tissue with my bad foot and I even made a video of it. I was so excited to be able to have more pain free movement in my foot and ankle.
I went to bed tired but feeling a bit nauseas – by 3am I was wide awake!!!

From Dong Hoi to Phong Nha – the 1st weekend in July

From Dong Hoi to Phong Nha – the 1st weekend in July

The excitement for Veronika and I continued in to the rest of the weekend while Captain Caveman was on day 2 of his latest Son Doong trip! On Saturday 4th July I awoke to sunshine and nice views from my bedroom window of the Vinpearl hotel. I went down for breakfast extra early so that I could take advantage of one last Vinpearl buffet before returning to Phong Nha for the weekend. Veronika joined me a little later and it was a sure sign it was the weekend as the dining room was quite a lot busier than usual. My physio appointment was at 8am and then I came back and had time for one last bubble bath before check out. Veronika had already organised a car to pick us up from the Vinpearl and run a few errands in the town before heading over to Phong Nha Farmstay. We called in a couple of places and on our last stop at The Face shop we came out to the driver trying to help a western bloke at a bus stop. He was meant to be getting a bus to Phong Nha but, as it was lunchtime, he was in for a long wait. On hearing his British accent we offered to help and I told him to get in the car without even checking with Veronika. We had about 40 minutes to find out more about our new friend as we headed towards our next destination armed with a boot full of flowers, a cake and some birthday gifts.

When we arrived at the Farmstay staff were waiting to help get the items out of the car without Bich, who’s birthday it was, seeing them. They were also a little confused that we had managed to ‘pick up’ Keith from Grimsby on our travels. It had never occured to me that this might not look good to any potential gossip mongers, especially given Veronika was now known for propositioning married men!
Keith was peckish and so, instead of getting off to his homestay straight away, he decided to have lunch with us and a few beers. Bich joined us for birthday wishes and present giving and helped Keith get to his homestay, with plans for him to come visit the next day. I checked in to one of the original rooms where I was given a nice suite with a four-poster bed and 2 bathrooms, situated next to reception and up just 4 steps. It was a really nice room and I found it easy to walk to, I even had a stand-up shower without incident.

Veronika and I had dinner together with Bich and some friends however she was back on grandmother duty so was unable to get in to the wine as we had been doing in Dong Hoi. It was a low key birthday for Bich as the Farmstay was now getting busy and full at weekends but it was nice to see her relax a little. There was a Philippino band on who were very good, I ended up having a bit too much wine and managed to accidentally ruin a few of the birthday photos of Bich with her friends. Back in the room I lined up the bottles of water, brought to me by Sao because I can’t carry them, ready for if I had a hang over in the morning. At 10.30pm I called my parents and had a good chat – I was happy that they had decided against being the first to go to the newly reopened local pubs back in England.

Sunday 5th July was incredibly relaxing and I did hardly anything at all. My breakfast at Phong Nha Farmstay was pho ga, orange juice and green tea with lots of water. I chatted to a few people, had a rest on a sunbed and a dip in the pool. I ate lunch with Veronika and while she enjoyed the mushroom soup and quesadillas, I had the veggie curry with steamed rice which was really filling and tasty. Keith popped over in the afternoon and I met up with him after I had finished my Turkish lesson. He had beer and I had Strongbow as it was happy hour and then he had to leave his motorbike and get the shuttle bus over to Victory Road Villas. He ordered a pie which he took home with him while Veronika and I sat by the pool to eat our duck, risotto and veg with a bottle of our favourite sparkling wine.
Back in the room I saw a post from my old work colleague which upset me. My friend and ex supervisor, at a pub I used to work in, had posted a summary on Facebook of her observations from working in the bar the previous night. I was happy I wasn’t there right now, I felt sorry for the staff (my friends), as well as embarrassed and disappointed that some of the punters could not follow the rules to keep safe – it was very worrying.

Dong Hoi – 3rd July

Dong Hoi – 3rd July

When I woke up on Friday 3rd July I saw news that my mate’s hen do had been rebooked and we were off to Budapest in 2021. We had been booked to go to Marbella this year but had cancelled due to the virus and now the bride and hens had been busy organising a new celebration. I’ve never been to Budapest and have been to Marbella a few times so I was even more excited at this holiday. I planned to go there straight from Vietnam and had a marvellous idea that I might even extend my stay there a bit longer than just the weekend. Flights back from Budapest to London were only £20 in the week and so that looked like a possibility.
For breakfast Veronika and I met for our feast at the Vinpearl hotel again and then I went off to the beauty salon for a head, neck and shoulder massage. The receptionist welcomed me with a pot of ginger tea and a pre massage health questionnaire in a very professional manner. All the staff at the Vinpearl wear their face masks throughout their shifts and it was no different in the spa area. Quynh, the massage therapist, came to collect me and as I followed her on my crutches she headed to a staircase. When I had booked in I had been told that the massage would take place on the same floor but this evidently wasn’t the case and I had to crutch down the stairs with the help of the staff. Once in the room I was given a foot bath and a light foot massage then asked to lay face down on the bed. I’d completely forgotten that I might find it uncomfortable because of my injured leg but it actually worked out ok and the bed was so comfy. The massage was absolutely brilliant and I will definitely be booking in again, I was so relaxed that I fell asleep towards the end and felt so good afterwards. The stairs were definitely more difficult to get up than they were to get down and I was very tired when I got to the top. I had another pot of ginger tea and got a few photos before heading back to my room for a rest and some lunch before physio.

In the evening I met Veronika in the hotel bar at sunset and I noticed that they had our favourite sparkling wine so I ordered it. The waitress thought I wanted a bottle of whiskey at first but we soon sorted that out. It took a while for the staff to get the correct glasses and an ice bucket as they probably weren’t used to people ordering fizz. We invited Des over and we had a lovely chilled out pre dinner drink before heading over to 7th Heaven. Veronika had the chicken schnitzel, Des and I ordered the Australian beef steak and I stuck to water as the restaurant only sells wine by the bottle at the moment. The food, as usual, was fantastic and we had a really lovely evening – it was Des’s last weekend in Dong Hoi and so we had to say goodbye, which was a bit sad. We promised to keep in touch and would catch up in Danang when we next visited.
Before I went to bed I read that in England pubs were getting ready to open the next day and I was interested to find out how it would pan out.

Dong Hoi – 2nd July

Dong Hoi – 2nd July

I’d been having such a good time in Dong Hoi with Veronika that I’d almost forgotten that Captain Caveman had returned from his last Son Doong trip. On Thursday 2nd July he was busy back in Phong Nha and so was unable to meet up in Dong Hoi. Veronika and I enjoyed a hearty breakfast and she helped me by selecting my food for me, including some excellent bacon and piping hot beans. We had pho and fruit and lots of refreshments before heading back to our rooms. I was getting ready to go to the swimming pool when I had a message from Des to say he was free to meet up and I made my way to a fabulous little cafe for a cold drink. Talk Cafe is a really cute cafe occupying a corner position in the centre of Dong Hoi, I’d got a taxi there and Linh helped me as soon as I arrived. It’s a charity organisation so they are used to dealing with disabled and they even have a ramp!
The peach tea was excellent and we also had some rather nice herbal iced tea, Veronika joined us a bit later for a cappuccino. I headed off to physio while Veronika ran a few errands and had a stroll back to the hotel. On arrival at physio I saw another Phong Nha resident with an old knee injury which had flared up. Some of the positions Nam, the therapist, had him in looked painful – he warned me I was likely to get a similar going over later down the line.

Back at the hotel and after a lovely bubble bath Veronika came to my room with yet another bottle of bubbly and we ordered some spring rolls. Being in a fancy hotel I wrongly presumed we may get a small portion so we ordered two lots, only to find they were fairly substantial servings. We missed sunset at the hotel bar but we did go there for more food after we had finished the bottle of wine. I had the meat & cheese again while Veronika had what looked like a great tiramisu. We spoke to her family back in Phong Nha, saying what fun we were having, resulting in them agreeing she should book an extra night. The Vinpearl rates were very reasonable and so it was decided that a third night would be spent there.

Dong Hoi – 1st July

Dong Hoi – 1st July

I had a late breakfast at the Nam Long Plus hotel on Wednesday 1st July; pho bo with a different flavour to it this time so I checked it wasn’t chilli and the receptionist told me it was just some flavouring they put in the soup. I also had orange juice, tea and some complimentary melon before heading back to the room to get packed and ready to check out at noon. Veronika had already got a ride in to Dong Hoi earlier that morning and we’d each managed to get good deals on a midweek stay at the Vinpearl hotel. When I went to drop my bag off there I was able to check in earlier so I had a quick snack for lunch and then headed to physio as usual to continue my treatment. Today marked a fortnight since I first started going there, it was incredibly hot in the physio heat treatment room but Hoa made sure I had a fan on me. My physio went well and I had a lot of ice on both my knee and my ankle, which felt good.

When I got back to the Vinpearl hotel, after 5pm, the views were really good from the 15th floor and I’d received a fruit plate for being a returning guest. I messaged Veronika to let her know I was having a bath and did she want to meet up after for drinks and dinner. Veronika looked like she had a similar idea as she had sent a message which read
‘Relaxing. Bubbly is in the fridge. Let me know when you are ready for it. What room are you in?’
Unfortunately she sent it to the wrong person and while I was waiting and wondering where she was, she got a funny reply;
‘That’s very kind but as a non drinker I’ll have to pass and I also have my reputation as a happily married man to maintain. 😲 think perhaps that was meant for someone else.’
Veronika was horrified that she had mistakenly sent the message intended for me to a friend from Phong Nha, who probably now thought Veronika was up to no good. She did her best to explain only to have a response that he didn’t judge!
When Veronika finally came to my room, armed with a bottle of Tattinger champagne, we were both in hysterics. The fizz went down well and then we went to the hotel bar for dinner. I had the chicken wings and a cheese & meat plate with a pineapple juice. It was a great day and we were looking forward to more of the same tomorrow – possibly without Veronika propositioning young men!

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the end of June

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the end of June

I woke up early on Monday 29th June to news that there had been an earthquake in the Muğla region of Turkey, where Captain Caveman has an apartment. It had been quite strong and had even been felt in Dalyan and some things had fell off shelves in people’s homes. I spent some time checking emails, and getting organised for my next week of physio in Dong Hoi, I even took a couple of rice crackers for snacking. I managed to take my full backpack, my bum-bag and crutches down all the stairs together with me, ready to get my car with Phuong’s Transfers to The Villas. I decided it would be a good idea to have breakfast there first, then order some takeaway lunch to go with me to Dong Hoi. Phuong arrived early and messaged me to say he was outside, he carried my bags, was there for assistance on the steps and even locked the front door and brought me the keys to the car. He’s so friendly, helpful and reliable and he had agreed to drop me off at The Villas and then collect me again at 1pm to take me to Dong Hoi ready to check in and get to my afternoon physio appointment. At The Villas I was welcomed, as always, by the staff and I sat inside with the AC on for a breakfast of pho ga, which I really enjoyed, and a peppermint tea.
I drank lots of water and then ordered 2 portions of the veggie spring rolls to takeaway, which I almost forgot. Phuong was early to pick me up and helped with bags and carrying my lunch and we had a smooth trip in to Dong Hoi.

The physio was definitely starting to get more painful and I think this was because I had rested the day before so everything was very tender. So far I had endured 25 hours of physical therapy and even though there were only small improvements I could definitely see and feel a benefit.
I saw a post on Facebook which confirmed that Vietnam were still not permitting any flights in or out of Vietnam for the foreseeable future even though other nearby countries had started to permit some flights. I started to make enquiries about my visa extension as it was due to expire in just over 2 weeks. In the evening I decided to try a place for delivery which I had not had before, Oregano, which had been recommended by a few people. I ordered Hawaiian pizza with french fries. When it came it had bacon, sweetcorn and onion on rather than the usual ham and pineapple. I took the toppings off and put it on rice crackers but it was quite difficult to pull apart. The french fries were really good though and the can of full fat coke went down really well – I was feeling dehydrated.

The last day of the month, Tuesday 30th June, was pretty routine. I didn’t bother with breakfast and did some Turkish lessons instead. I had veggie spring rolls and chips from Tree Hugger for lunch and then went to physio. There was pain and the exercises were getting harder but this time the therapist managed to straighten my leg while it was in a vertical position. I also got a massage on my bum cheek which I didn’t realise before but it really needed it.
I had a different room at the Nam Long Plus this time which had a desk and a chair, which was useful. The room also had a kettle but no cups or beverages which was odd. For dinner I had fruit salad and yoghurt and rested up. I also made some plans with Veronika who was planning to come to Dong Hoi the next day.

Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the last weekend of June

Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the last weekend of June

Another week had gone by and I wondered if the Corona virus data showed any evidence of improvement in the countries that I should be going to, England & Turkey. It was looking increasingly likely I would not be going to either in the short term.
On June 26th the data, from NCOVI app and World Life Expectancy website showed me the following; Vietnam had recorded 10 new cases, 4 more recoveries and still no deaths (93% recovery rate and all cases in quarantine on arrival in to the country). The UK had the same amount of cases as the previous week (7,500) but more deaths (1,000). Turkey had more cases (9,100) than the previous week but less than 100 deaths. The world has a whole recorded 800,000 new cases in the last week, 24,000 deaths and 600,000 recoveries, this meant that there were less cases and deaths recorded overall and the same amount of recoveries.

My weekend started with saying bye to Captain Caveman at 6am on Friday 26th June. He was off on a 2 day trip to Hang En and needed to get the Oxalis shuttle bus from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha. I went back to sleep for a bit and then went to breakfast alone. I was impressed with the staff who, again, were very attentive with passing me the food to the table – they even remembered what I liked.
After breakfast I caught up on Turkish class and some writing, for lunch I had a mango. At physio I got a lot of attention on my ankle which for the first time had a kind of movement to it that made me feel a bit queasy when it was pressed. I was also having problems with my toes being able to straighten out.
That evening I checked in to the more budget friendly Nam Long Plus hotel for the night, as I was back to Phong Nha tomorrow and the Vinpearl is more expensive and busy at weekends. I had a takeaway for dinner of pork fried rice and satay chicken skewers from 7th Heaven which was very tasty, then bath and bed! I had an early night because I had an early appointment the next day.

I had an early physio appointment on Saturday 27th June and then had plans to go back to Phong Nha for the rest of the weekend. I was looking forward to more choice of food and I didn’t even bother with breakfast at the hotel as wasn’t feeling too hungry. Physio was going well, today was my 10th session and I’d got used to the heat treatment a bit more now. I no longer felt pain when laying flat on the wooden bed and my foot had stopped getting pins and needles. Hoa had also stopped putting the extra hot stone on my ankle which seemed to be helping. On Saturdays the physio place is a little more relaxed but it had lots of customers waiting and everyone was very busy. This time I was on the bed nearest the front door and it had a slight gap in where the sun came streaming through, the Aircon wasn’t on in this room but the fan was rotating and I was sweaty.
I intended to book Phuong’s Transfers for the trip back to Phong Nha, he was busy by the time I requested him but he was able to book me an alternative which was only 400,000 vnd one way with a good driver, who stopped at an ATM without many steps and helped me.
When I got to Phong Nha I was so hungry that I decided I would go straight to The Villas for brunch with Veronika. Manu was there to help me get a lovely comfy seat in the Aircon room at the back and he could see I was a sweaty mess so probably was best to put me away from other customers. By the time I’d got water, a cup of tea and some popcorn there was already a nice couple on the next table who were down from Hanoi for the weekend.
I was pleased when Veronika arrived for lunch and I decided to have the potato, edamame and artichoke salad. It doesn’t say on the menu that it has tomatoes in but previous experience has taught me it does, so I ordered it without tomatoes. When it came it was without potatoes! We all had a good laugh that I would order a potato salad without potatoes (but one can never assume). Straight away Luc apologised and sent it back to get another one while Veronika ate her salmon, mashed potatoes and asparagus – a firm favourite.

After my lunch, which was lovely, I had a piece of the gluten free chocolate mousse cake which was so delicious. Veronika had to get back to the grandkids but I ordered more tea and decided to stick around until Captain Caveman got back from his tour. He was due back around 4pm and would have a couple of hours before he had to be at his briefing for tomorrow’s tour. It also meant he would just about have time for a bite to eat and a beer however he didn’t appear and his Hang En group was back later than expected meaning he wouldn’t be able to join me at The Villas. I now had two choices, I could get a taxi to take me elsewhere/home or I could stay where I was and enjoy the happy hour.
After a couple of margaritas (my new ‘away from home’ alcohol limit) I went back to water and herbal teas then ordered dinner. I decided I’d missed the potato gratin so I had that which comes with asparagus, an accidental vegetarian day and I really enjoyed it.
I booked Phuong’s Transfers for the short journey home at 9pm as Captain Caveman was still at his briefing. I’ve never gone in to our house in the dark on my crutches so I was hoping he’d be back in time so he could switch lights on for me (they are not conveniently located near the door). He arrived at The Villas at 8.40pm and had 1 beer before cycling home and arriving at the same time as me.
Back home, after a tiring bum shuffle up the stairs, we shared some wine and I unpacked my bag, I was looking forward to being home for a day, just relaxing and taking it easy.

My day off from physio on Sunday 28th June felt good and it gave my leg chance to stop feeling bruised. I hadn’t noticed a massive difference in my ability to walk and I was still not great with crutches but I could do some minor things a little better. I picked back up the book I had started reading in January and had not got far with, watched Netflix and relaxed. For breakfast I was back to the old faithfuls, laughing cow and rice crackers. At lunch I polished off a couple of mangoes which were still in the fridge and some gluten free biscuits. In the evening I wasn’t feeling like doing anything and so after struggling to take a photo of the sunset and then close all the curtains and finish packing for my next week of physio in Dong Hoi I put on some comfy lounge wear and watched more Netflix.

Dong Hoi – the 4th week of June

Dong Hoi – the 4th week of June

I had pho ga for breakfast at the Nam Long Plus hotel on Monday 22nd June, I then did a bit of walking up and down the hotel room trying to get my leg a bit more flexible ready for my physio session. I had a delivery for lunch from Tree Hugger which was lovely and saved some for dinner again. It was a fairly steady day and then I went to physio where I was given a different therapist to work on my leg – this guy was 30 year’s old and liked playing games at the weekend. He was also a lot stronger than Nam and seemed to spend more time on my knee – he even had me lay on my front for the first time since the injury and do some exercises.
Back at the hotel I took it easy, spoke to Captain Caveman who had returned from his tour, watched more Marcella and fell asleep early – a good day!

I was looking forward to a change of scenery on Tuesday 23rd June but first I had a full day of my new routine. I had pho bo for breakfast at Nam Long Plus hotel and was given a homemade yoghurt from one of the staff which was very good. For lunch I had spring rolls and french fries with a fresh pineapple juice from Tree Hugger (again). I went to physio and everyone was now getting used to me and being really friendly – the staff and the customers. Thuy, the boss, took some photos of me and promised to send them on Facebook. After physio I returned back to Nam Long to collect my bag where Captain Caveman came to pick me up, after dropping off some customers at the airport. I came out of the hotel and had to go across the street to get in the vehicle, it was a bit tricky because of the kerb and uneven pavement. Captain Caveman was so disappointed that I wasn’t walking any better than when he had last seen me and his face said it all. We drove a short distance to our next location, Captain Caveman had only booked us in to the Vinpearl in Dong Hoi for 3 nights on a midweek special offer which worked out extremely attractive!!!
We checked in and went to the room, they sent us a gift of a fruit platter and we decided to try the new bar on the 6th floor. While Captain Caveman lucked out on his choice of cocktail, a black russian with black olives in it, I had a pretty good Singapore sling. The staff were attentive and it was almost sunset so we got to see some lovely views. I’d not had time to change so I looked a bit shabby but we didn’t care and ordered another cocktail. For dinner we dined in the hotel restaurant and the food was nice, if not a bit on the extravagant side. As I was on crutches the staff were even more helpful than usual and we were quite happy that the fancy dining room was so quiet. Captain Caveman had a chicken dish and I had the pork ribs which were nice but were coated in a bread product not stated on the menu. I picked it off and still ate them and it was very tasty. Back in the room I managed to speak to my mate Kelly for the first time since I’d seen her in Turkey, we were able to wish her a Happy Birthday and it was great to catch up. I ate some longan fruit from the complimentary fruit plate before bed and we drank some wine! The bed was super comfy and we decided to watch a film on Netflix, The Wrong Missy – it was actually quite good.

There’s nothing finer than an inclusive buffet breakfast in a fancy hotel. Captain Caveman had to get me my selection of food at the Vinpearl hotel in Dong Hoi on Wednesday 24th June and he did well. I had pho ga, cheese and fruit for my breakfast with plenty of juice, detox water and tea. We had a leisurely day of not doing very much really and it was great. I made a bit more progress with my leg and had managed to walk with one crutch. For lunch I had a dragon fruit from the fruit plate as I was still full from breakfast and then I went off to physio where I had a lot of work done on my knee.
When I got back I had a lovely bubble bath and got ready for a night out. We had steak and red wine at one of our favourite restaurants, 7th Heaven, and it was gorgeous. Back at the hotel we finished off the rest of the wine from the previous night while watching Midnight in Paris on Netflix. We were so tired that only one of us managed to watch the film without snoring through it.

Breakfast again at the Vinpearl on Thursday 25th was great and this time Captain Caveman took photos of the selections so I could direct him and the staff to what I would like. I even had bacon today and chose my own fruit.
I’d manage to book in for physio in the morning so that we could do stuff together for the rest of the day and have time to catch up with Des at Tree Hugger. Lunch was good, as always and we had the obligatory white russians. While Captain Caveman went to scout out some more eateries for when I stay in Dong Hoi we waited at Tree Hugger a bit longer.
In the afternoon we went to the hotel pool which is really lovely and I even managed to get to it fairly easily and into it ok. I wasn’t allowed to swim because the physio had told me not to but I could walk up and down the long pool, which I did several times. Getting out of the pool was a bit more tricky and of course I had the grace of a beached whale but I made it with the hand of Captain Caveman once I was out.
That evening we were going to try Mr Bull for the first time but it was closed so we did the same as the previous evening. 7th Heaven’s steak is one of the best things in Dong Hoi so we had it twice in a row! We even took half the bottle of wine back to the room and had that before bed. We didn’t bother with a film as Captain Caveman had to be up really early the next morning – he would even have to miss the buffet breakfast!

Photo credit Captain Caveman and Thuy at Physio

Dong Hoi – the 3rd weekend in June

Dong Hoi – the 3rd weekend in June

It was 9 weeks on Friday 19th June since my drunken incident which gave me my torn ligaments in my ankle and knee. I was still not mobile and was hoping a few weeks of physio would sort me out. Captain Caveman was off back in to the cave for 4 days and I was about to spend the weekend in Dong Hoi. I had gluten free biscuits and stilton for breakfast before Phuong, the driver at Phuong’s Transfers, came to take me to my appointment in his minibus. We went in to town a bit earlier and he dropped me at Tree Hugger cafe so I could enjoy a nice lunch. I had one of my favourite dishes of vegetables & beef with steamed rice and a peppermint tea – it looked great and tasted delicious. It was very hot in Dong Hoi and felt even hotter once I got in to the heat treatment room, the one fan was not doing much good as I lay on the hard bed in pain. I made a note to not drink tea before a visit ever again, after not being able to manage the squat toilet facilities and needing help from Thuy and Hoa. I think 3 hours is a long time to go without peeing when I’m meant to be drinking lots of water.
After the physio I went to the Nam Long Plus hotel where there was a surprise in store for me. It was Momma D who had decided to take the night off work and stay in Dong Hoi in the room directly above me. After a much needed bath a small miracle happened; I went to put my knee bandage back on and found I could completely straighten my leg on the bed, while sat up. I read on the internet (so it must be true) that a good test was to lay completely flat and see if I could get it flat in that position. I could, but the knee pinched a little and the toes were a bit odd, slightly stiffened. I went up to the 8th floor where there is a rooftop and Momma D was already there with a bottle of red wine. It was hot but breezy and the views were lovely, even though my photos don’t do it justice because I didn’t want to crutch about in the dark. The two of us decided we would splash out and get a delivery from 7th Heaven (one of my favourite restaurants) and eat on the roof of the hotel. I had 2 glasses of wine (that’s my limit with red wine these days), sweet & sour chicken with sweet potato fries and Momma D had spaghetti bolognese. Her food looked good and mine was very tasty and I wondered why I’d not had that dish before. It was a good night but I was yawning a lot as I was so tired after physio and was probably not great company. Luckily Momma D was too polite to say if she did notice me being a bit boring but I was not used to so much excitement in one day – how things have changed. Back in my room I set the alarm as I had an early appointment at physio on Saturday and I fell straight to sleep without evening switching off the light!

I went down to the Nam Long Plus restaurant area, in the entrance to the hotel, for breakfast on Saturday 20th June, where Momma D was already waiting for me. It wasn’t too early and I’d had an early night but I was aching after physio and still worn out. Momma D had shopping plans while I tootled off for more physio this morning. After the heat treatment Nam applied a lot of ice to my ankle and Thuy explained they didn’t realise how injured my foot was and so they would focus on both ankle and knee at each session.
When I got back to the hotel I was a hot and sweaty mess, Momma D was stood outside the hotel which was crowded with motorbikes, all in the way of the entrance. Luckily the taxi driver was helpful and helped me squeeze throught the gap and up the stairs to the reception area. Momma D had a rooftop bar which wasn’t going to run itself and so she had to load up her motorbike and get back to Phong Nha.
I went to my room and had a bath and had just popped on some fresh clothes when Momma D knocked on the door to say bye and donate some leftover wine, fruit and bubble bath for me to use up. The room was comfortable and it was great having a bath, especially as the hotel was only 300,000 vnd per night (approx £10). The staff and owner are also very attentive and polite so I was lucky to get great service at a budget hotel.
I decided on a late lunch from Tree Hugger and was impressed that the delivery food was as well presented and consistent with how they serve it in the cafe – I enjoyed my veggie spring rolls and french fries.
In the afternoon I did some walking up and down the room and the corridor, then chilled out until time for some Turkish lessons.
For dinner I decided to try 7th Heaven again but this time I ordered the pork ribs with side salad and veggie rice, all without chillies. When it came the veggie rice was the only thing not covered in chillies – even the salad had more chillies than is normal in a chilli con carne. The rice dish was excellent, I left the salad but managed to save the ribs from the sauce. I’m finding already that in Dong Hoi staff are not as used to catering for ‘no chillies’ as they do in Phong Nha – they still don’t get allergies here.
I watched a bit of Netflix and fell asleep early again – I was glad to be having a day off the next day.

I had a later breakfast on Sunday 21st June as I didn’t need to be in a rush for anything. I had pho bo (beef noodle soup), green tea and fresh orange juice. I caught up on emails, practiced some Turkish and did some writing before I noticed that Marcella had a third series on Netflix. I binge watched a couple of episodes and was gripped but had to ween myself off it to keep moving so my leg didn’t seize up.
For lunch I had similar to yesterday because Tree Hugger is easily the best cafe and quite good on the budget for what you get. I opted for pork spring rolls and french fries this time and decided I would save some for dinner later. I really didn’t need 3 full meals a day because I wasn’t going very far.
Back in the UK it was Father’s Day which I had completely forgotten about until I saw updates on Facebook so I did manage to speak to my parents who were still staying at home, avoiding the Corona virus. They were pleased with my leg news of having being able to straighten it flat on the bed.
That evening I finished the weekend off with the rest of the red wine, kindly left by Denise, and another episode of Marcella before falling asleep about 10pm.

30 things I googled in June

30 things I googled in June

With Captain Caveman away there was less googling for arguing’s sake in the first weeks of June. Here is a list, this time in alphabetical order, for your perusal:

1. Ankle strengthening exercises
2. Body parts in Vietnamese
3. Celebrex 200mg
4. Dong Hoi
5. Dexamethasone
6. Diptheria
7. English to Vietnamese translation
8. Femoral
9. Famous killers
10. Getting soy sauce spills out of backpacks
11. Gok Wan
12. Heat or ice on damaged ligaments
13. How to use resistance bands
14. Julia Gillard
15. Japanese road that looks like a roller coaster
16. Laksa curry ingredients
17. Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac
18. Massage with ice or talc
19. Omeparazole
20. Parts of the foot in Vietnamese
21. Physical therapy for torn ligaments
22. Recuperation
23. Snopes
24. Slander v Liable
25. Tibial
26. Turkish to English translation
27. University in Tokyo
28. World Life Expectancy
29. Weather
30. Zombie by The Cranberries

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 18th June

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 18th June

I thought I was able to sleep late on Thursday 18th June and my phone was still on do not disturb when Captain Caveman came back in to the room in a rush. He had arranged a car which was already on its way so that we could go from our house to Oxalis Home to get on the shuttle bus to Dong Hoi. I was half asleep and not even ready but had to bum shuffle down the stairs quickly to the car that was waiting. Once at Oxalis I crutched across the road and bum shuffled up the steps of the bus, it was really cool on there with extremely comfy seats and is a fraction of the cost of taxis. As long as you can cope with going from one Oxalis office to the other and it not dropping you at the town centre or anywhere particularly useful then it’s a winner. For Oxalis customers only at the moment, it leaves at 8am and comes back at 2pm and you must book in advance (although we actually didn’t). I almost nodded back off to sleep on the journey to Dong Hoi but of course I had too much going on to do that. I’d already arranged that we would meet Des so we let him know we would be at Buffalo beach bar for brunch.
On arrival Captain Caveman went ahead in to the shade of the bar, which Oxalis office is attached to, so I had to shout him back to help me navigate the various paving methods including loose bricks as steps on to a lawn. He was peeved because it was sunny and I was taking too long and so he had to lift me down the steps. Of course we sat inside as I was not up to being able to tackle sand walking and when Des arrived they got on the beers. We all ordered food and two thirds of lunch was not as expected. Captain Caveman ordered oysters but when they came he told the waitress that they were actually mussels in oyster shells who insisted that was not true, she called them Vietnamese oysters. Captain Caveman knows his mollusks and so a bit of a debate ensued, including a demonstration of how the oyster shells and the mussels were separated. She was having none of it, he was not impressed but still ate them all (he loves mussels but he knew he was right). I ordered pork ribs with corn and when it came the corn was actually pineapple. At 165,000 vnd (£6) it was expensive but the food was very good with lots of meat on but no rice or veg with it, just fruit, which is odd. Des got the worst deal with his pancake with honey – it was thinner than grandma’s antimacassar, had overripe banana on, smothered in chocolate and took quite a while. They had more beer to take the edge off the disappointment and I had a strongbow – well we were at the seaside! As we were leaving we walked past a table of oyster shells which were drying in the sun having been washed ready to put mussels in, which proved Captain Caveman right about his seafood not being what it said on the menu.

While Captain Caveman ran some errands in the town, including sussing out a room in the Nam Long Plus hotel and booking me in for the next day, I headed off to my 3 hour physio session. I had a shorter time in the heat treatment room and Nam did all the hands on therapy which seemed less painful than when Thuy did it. Captain Caveman came to meet me and he had a car already booked to take us back to Phong Nha so that he could get to his briefing. He suggested dropping me off at The Villas again while he went to work but I was so tired and wanted to go home. I ate the remaining spring rolls from yesterday, the blue cheese from a while ago and some gluten free biscuits for dinner. When Captain Caveman got back I shared a bottle of wine with him before bed. He was looking forward to his Son Dong trip the next day and I was heading to Dong Hoi for the rest of the week.

If you want to book on the Oxalis shuttle service here is the link – it is only available for Oxalis customers at the time of publishing this post: https://phongnhashuttle.com/

Photo credit Captain Caveman

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 17th June

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 17th June

We had a wander down to the Farmstay’s pool and bar area for our breakfast on Wednesday 17th June. Captain Caveman had a fry up and I just asked for bacon and beans, which still came with bread, butter and salad. We made use of the facilities before check-out and then we came back to the poolside for our lunch. Captain Caveman had the duck salad and I had the fresh veggie spring rolls, both were great and I still had some left so took them with me. Phuong, of Phuong’s Transfers, picked us up and took me to the physio in Dong Hoi and Captain Caveman headed for second breakfast/lunch at Tree Hugger. At 47 years old I’m very lucky to have never had any injuries or serious health problems so I was unsure what to expect of physio in any country, let alone Vietnam. Thuy escorted me to the back room where I met Hoa who was responsible for the heat treatments. I laid on one of the mattress free beds while she put hot stones and a strange substance under and around my whole leg. I wish I’d not worn denim shorts because it was so hot in that room and I found it difficult to cope without drinking water that I had brought with me. The heat treatment itself made my leg throb and hurt more, the bed was so uncomfortable that everything ached and I found it difficult to stay still for the 40 minutes. I was happy that I got a pillow even if it was wet with sweat from previous customers. Once out of the heat treatment area I was taken to a back room, I found it hard to crutch through the narrow gaps between the beds of other patients and only just avoided standing on the mat of a small child on the floor. The room I got had a rotating fan and Aircon so I was really pleased – I was already drenched in sweat. Thuy dowsed my knee in talc and gave it ‘what for’, like I’d never felt before. It hurt and I had to tell her which bits were small pain and big pain as she gave me what was probably a deep tissue massage. Towards the end of the 3.5 hours of being in there she got me to try to push with my leg against her arm, my muscles had deteriorated quite a bit and I found it too difficult. When Captain Caveman and Phuong came back for me they still had to wait a bit longer and then she explained it was going to take a while but to come everyday and not stop until I was fixed.
I got back in the minibus and was knackered, I couldn’t wait to get home, have a shower and go to sleep. We decided to call at the Pepper House to see if Multi had spare crutches we could borrow as Captain Caveman thought I would be better with some lightweight ones which don’t hurt when I drop them on myself, we were in luck although I didn’t try them. On the drive back Captain Caveman decided he could drop me at The Villas in time for happy hour as he had to go meet his friends who were visiting from Sapa. I reluctantly agreed, seeing as I was hungry (as well as smelly and very dishevelled) so he messaged Caroline to say to meet us there. We went home and just dropped off our bags and my old wooden crutches, I stayed in the car, then went back to the The Villas.

When I got out I couldn’t use the new crutches and could hardly walk, Captain Caveman had already gone to Lucky Lucky, so I struggled over to the nearest seat by hopping and shuffling. Caroline and Ha were drinking white wine and I ordered a margarita and some popcorn, the girls also ordered margaritas.
Captain Caveman came back with his friends just as Manu was giving us all some over-proof rum to try and we managed to get me up the ramp to a dinner table. I had the confit duck leg (my favourite) and I kept to my 2 margaritas as that was enough without dinner yet. We had a good night but we didn’t realise the time until we tried to get a taxi at 10:30pm, it was too late. Eventually we did get one but I was really worried as I could not have walked 2km with my new crutches.

Photo credits – Caroline Borrow, Captain Caveman, Manu, The Villas & Phuong’s Transfers

Phong Nha Farmstay – 16th June

Phong Nha Farmstay – 16th June

I had a day of complete luxury and relaxing on Tuesday 16th June. I woke up fully rested after a night in that amazingly comfy bed at Little Lies, I had a healthy breakfast of fruit and yoghurt at the side of the pool and then spent a lot of time in the pool. For lunch I had Nem Lui again which I really like and is a large portion – I had trouble finishing it all.
The afternoon brought some sadness when I saw a missile flying towards the window and then a thud. A sparrow had tried to fly through the door of the villas and was startled. I crutched over to it and saw it had open eyes but I couldn’t pick it up. I called Sao, her and the security guy came running, and she picked it up straight away and stroked it’s chest. Unfortunately it had already died so she took it away to make sure it got a good burial/send off.
Captain Caveman had got back from his 4 day tour to Son Doong and was off to his gala dinner that night but would be over after it had finished. Veronika and I made the most of our last dinner together, again having the lovely sparkling white wine (which Sao had already replaced in the fridge). We both ordered the chicken dish which was delicious – I really can’t find a bad meal here, but don’t worry I will keep looking!
I had gone to bed when Captain Caveman arrived as it was quite late and he’d already had plenty to drink with his customers at the after party. The size of the bed was definitely a bonus as I couldn’t hear him snoring!