Even though Captain Caveman was in the cave I had set my alarm for 7am on Monday 15th June because a busy day was in store!
Firstly I was off to the physio and had booked Phuong, the driver, to take me so that he could help with translation too. I decided it would be a good idea to take my hospital letter which gave a description of the tests carried out and the list of damage I had encountered. Unfortunately I had stood my crutches up against the cupboard to do this and one fell down, hitting the top of my bad foot – it hurt but I didn’t have time for tears as the car was here early.
The physio was an eye-opener; it was quite a basic building and the doors and metal shutters were shut to make it look like it was closed but inside it was a hive of activity. Phuong helped me up the steps and into a side room where I explained what had happened and she read the letter. It was very hot and stuffy in there and even though I saw there was Aircon installed, it wasn’t on. The woman in charge, Thuy, appeared to speak no English so Phuong translated the best he could and we managed to ascertain that I would need to book in for a session of 1 hour per day, 6 days per week for between 10 and 20 sessions at a cost of 300,000 vnd each (about £10). It was agreed we would start on Wednesday and I should be flexible on timings as she would know more once she got started on me. Everything discussed seemed to come down to fixing the knee and she examined me then popped on a compression type knee bandage. I asked if it was ok to be swimming and she said it was and to also practice walking but to still rest too. We thanked her and got back in the minibus which had great Aircon and cold water. Phuong explained it would be cheaper to stay in a cheap hotel than to get the return taxi fare of 600,000 vnd (about £20) everyday and so I made a note to find somewhere cheap and cheerful but with accessibility, I even asked on a local Facebook group for recommendations.
For lunch I met Des at Tree Hugger and I treated myself to an iced chocolate with soy milk and a fruit salad with yoghurt and honey. I was missing not being able to go up the stairs of Tree Hugger to have a browse of the gifts they sell in the shop upstairs but I was able to get in and out much easier than on my first visit. The staff are always great and were extra helpful, making sure I had room to get seated and a couple of fans pointing my way. On the way back to Phong Nha I was feeling optimistic about embarking on the physio and hoped I would be done in a couple of weeks! I think I may have drank too much of the complimentary tea because we had to stop as I needed the toilet and there was only a nearby petrol station with a squat toilet which I thought I’d be ok with – I got down relatively pain free but then I was stuck. I must have touched every available dirty surface, slipped on the wet tiles but not too far and almost got locked in there. By the time I got back in the car I was a hot, sweaty, juddery mess!!! It was a good job I was on my way to my next break away from home, back to Phong Nha Farmstay!
On arrival at Phong Nha Farmstay I got the very welcome cold towel given to me by Sao, who was the first of the staff to welcome me back. I was ready for some lunch and so stayed by the main pool and bar to tuck in to a very fresh chicken salad and a cold drink with lots of ice. I had decided that it would be a real treat to check in to one of the pool villas (from the new Jungalo Collection) and had been allocated the same one I’d stayed in before. I was happy about this because the bath was just right for my dodgy leg and I was familiar with the layout of the whole place. On entering the accomodation, Little Lies, I noticed that the decorative plates next to the fridge had been put up and a few more little improvements had been made. The (not so mini) mini-bar fridge was stocked with soft drinks, beer, cider and our favourite wine as well as lots of free water in glass bottles. I still wasn’t able to move glass bottles about so Sao passed me one and I also filled up a plastic one I had brought with me for when I move between rooms.
I spent the afternoon at the private pool, there were no guests next door so I was there all by myself and it was bliss. Around 3.30pm I was in the pool doing exercises when a storm came, the wind got up and the rain was heavy. I stayed in the pool and swam through the rain curtain that formed because of the structure of the open roof of the villa – even in rain the floor tiles weren’t slippy and the place was still a beauty.
A stay at Phong Nha Farmstay wouldn’t be complete without dinner with Veronika. We had the sparkling white wine which had already been chilled in the fridge before I arrived and we had a lovely dinner. I had a pork clay pot without the chillies and it was very good. I got to see the family but not for long with it being a school night and I didn’t need any encouragement for an early night either.
On Friday 12th June we got a car in to The Villas (aka Victory Road Villas) for breakfast. It was 8 weeks since the day of my ankle and knee injury and although I’d made some progress I was still unable to do stairs and was so slow and incompetent with crutches. Captain Caveman had already joined an American caver’s breakfast table and was being passed the menu by the time I got to a seat. I ordered pho while Captain Caveman and Tatas had one of the massive breakfast options available – those sausages looked good! I had a swim and it was so hot that even the 32°C pool cooled us down. Veronika arrived so I went inside to join her and enjoy the Aircon. I ordered a burger (no bun) for lunch and it was really nice, there was even beetroot on it. My usual favourite is the confit duck leg but I decided to be adventurous for a change. We didn’t stop for Happy Hour this time as Captain Caveman had to get to his Son Doong briefing and I was tired, so we got a taxi back home.
I had strawberries and gluten free biscuits for dinner, did my Turkish lessons and had just one glass of red wine later on.
Saturday 13th June was pretty tame, after Captain Caveman left for his next Son Doong tour. His alarm was set for 7am and mine for ten past so that he could get all his preparation jobs done before he went. There was no longer hot or iced tea being made as he had tired of that job already but I could live without tea quite easily. He was ready early but decided he didn’t fancy doing the washing up. I was a bit miffed by this given 2 items were his, two were shared and only 1 (a wine glass) was mine. When he’d left I was determined to wash them myself and so I used a drawstring cotton toiletry bag to put each item in to carry them about. I only managed the glasses because I couldn’t pick up the bowl off the floor yet but it took me 45 minutes in total and I was exhausted.
I had a late breakfast of cheese and far too much fruit and then suffered a bad stomach which didn’t bode well for my evening entertainment. For lunch I had plain chicken and crisps then decided I felt well enough for a dish full of strawberries (which was a mistake).
I watched Tiny Houses on Netflix, did some Turkish and some writing but was unable to make it to a party at Ho Khanh’s. As I didn’t feel well I was in bed nice and early and enjoying having some relaxation.
If you thought Saturday’s update of me managing to wash 3 glasses was exciting, well you’re in for a treat on Sunday 14th June.
I had one of those days where I did hardly anything! I had make-do food, mainly because of my stomach still being a little delicate and us having an awful lot of strawberries to get through.
I checked the Corona virus data, as I had been doing every day, and the summary for the week was as follows: Vietnam had recorded 4 more cases in a week (all on flights back home to Vietnam, who were quarantined on arrival) and 16 had recovered, making a 96% recovery rate.
This week the UK had recorded a further 7,100 cases and 1,200 deaths which to some people back home was being perceived as getting better – it was less numbers than last week but I wasn’t convinced of an improvement. Turkey had 4,000 new cases in the past week and 200 deaths.
I’d got in to a Netflix series called Cabins in the Wild which was really good and then I was in bed early, watching Filthy Rich, the documentary about Jeffrey Epstein. I’d enjoyed doing nothing and I was looking forward to the coming week, tomorrow I was taking myself off on a little trip.
For breakfast on Thursday 11th June I had cheese, gluten free crackers and a mango, Captain Caveman had a mango too – he’s not usually one for fruit. My ankle had finally stopped swelling and looked loads better but I’d ran out of medication so Captain Caveman had been asked to get me some from town. For lunch I made do with strawberries, crisps and sweets but for dinner we had the chicken combo from East Hill, which I had a can of strongbow with!
Although I had no idea when it would be possible to leave the country I still had plans to go to Turkey this year but now I had no flights booked. I had managed to book a flight to Dalaman for 2021 from the UK for after my friend’s wedding. Easy Jet had let me change it for free despite it being a much more expensive flight in the school holidays. I’d only paid £60 for it and if I ended up not going it wouldn’t be too much money to lose.
It was a fairly quiet day and I got quite a bit of Turkish done and some exercise for my leg. I had also booked myself in for another break away from home and was going to see the physio after the weekend.
I decided the next day we were going out and told Captain Caveman to book us a car for the morning.
On Wednesday 10th June I could not help myself, I had leftover cheese for breakfast. Captain Caveman went out and while he was gone an arrangement was made to go to The Villas in the afternoon. My sit down shower was not nearly as nice as the sunken bath at Phong Nha Farmstay and I was genuinely feeling a little glum at being back home. Captain Caveman had arranged with Caroline to have happy hour cocktails at Victory Road Villas and I was going to make use of the pool too, so we got a taxi there. I found it easy enough to get to the seating area overlooking the pool and I ordered a pineapple juice before changing in to my swimmers. One of our favourite waitresses, Ha, was working and she really looked after us. I had a little swim and did a few exercises in the pool and managed to not slip getting in or out.
When Caroline arrived, her and Captain Caveman got on the frozen margaritas which Ha makes really well. The popcorn and cocktails kept on coming and I succumbed to a Sangria (filled with fruit, so a healthy option). Our housemate Seamouse popped in for a swim and then joined us for a beer and popcorn, River (the dog) tried her best to get some stray pieces and Ha brought her a tub of fresh drinking water. By the time it got to dinner time Seamouse had left, Caroline and Captain Caveman were sloshed and I was perusing the Usual Suspects menu and specials board. Both Captain Caveman and I ordered the confit duck leg (my favourite) and Caroline ordered the victory burger with a couple of extra patties for River. They were getting down the drinks and I was still on my second sangria but decided to go mad and order a third. While Caroline went home by motorbike, River got in the back of our taxi. We dropped her off at her house and she seemed to have really enjoyed the outing, I was also glad to get out and enjoy some great food.
Photo credit Captain Caveman and Caroline Borrow
After hardly any sleep on my first night back home I was a bit crotchety and already missing Phong Nha Farmstay and its luxurious Jungalo Collection pool villas. On Tuesday 9th June Captain Caveman didn’t seem too hungover but he was obviously desperate for coffee. He headed off to Coffee Station to meet Caroline and Ha so he could have espressos and Eggs Benedict while I had peanut M&Ms for breakfast. Later I fancied a snack so we cracked open the cashews which Captain Caveman had bought in Dong Hoi, only to find they were garlic and chilli flavoured and not edible.
We invited D-Dub over for dinner and were ordering East Hill chicken but they didn’t have any available (disaster) so we decided to order from Capture café. I had an amazing cheeseboard (without bread), D-Dub the falafel with humus, pitta and Greek salad, Captain Caveman obviously had pizza and we had mangosteens for dessert. We had a lovely evening with the boys having gin and tonics while I had a couple of small glasses of red wine.
Captain Caveman and I have never been those types of people that, at the end of a holiday, like to get home. On Monday 8th June I certainly didn’t have that feeling and could have happily moved in to Phong Nha Farmstay indefinitely. It was time to return to Dong Hoi to have my leg checked but before we left we had a lovely breakfast and a chat with Bich. I was so grateful for all the effort and attention the whole family had shown me and I felt a little emotional leaving. A whole week at the Farmstay had been better than anything a doctor could have prescribed and I was leaving feeling much better, both physically and mentally. Had I not just been there for rest and recuperation there had been many activities I could have taken advantage of. I’d not left the premises but if I had, there was plenty to see and do – on previous visits I had enjoyed the morning walk with Ben and I love seeing all the animals wandering about.
Bich arranged for her trusted driver, Hai, to take us to the clinic and we had a busy day planned before heading home – no time for ice creams or happy hour today!
For lots of information, photos, reviews and videos check out Phong Nha Farmstay on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thephongnhafarmstay/
At the clinic there was a little confusion as they asked us to go back to Cuba hospital to have another MRI but we couldn’t understand why. I didn’t want to and could see no benefit in doing so, Captain Caveman agreed and we decided to head straight to Tree Hugger for lunch with Des. We had a great time and I even had my first white russian in ages!!! The men had sandwiches and I had the veggie spring rolls for lunch before heading back to find Multi’s recommended physio. We scoped it out and I would bring a translator and book in for some sessions soon but we were running out of time and needed to get back home because Captain Caveman had a party to get to. It was the 9th birthday celebration of Oxalis and there was a small party at Oxalis Home. I was invited but because of the issue of getting there, safely getting about and me not drinking beer or able to do the conga, I politely declined. Instead I managed to order lots of produce from the fruit girl, including our favourite – mangosteens. Captain Caveman came home in a right mess, he was so drunk but had still managed to bring me a curry from Namaste (impressive). Before I could get ready for bed he had fell asleep on the bed, fully clothed and holding on to my foot – he wouldn’t let go. He was going to have a hangover tomorrow.
Photo credit to Captain Caveman, Ben & Bich at the Farmstay.
Previous day: https://joloyolo.com/2020/06/30/phong-nha-farmstay-day-7/