Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 17th July

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 17th July

I tried to get a morning physio appointment for Friday 17th July so that I could get back to Phong Nha sooner and see Captain Caveman when he got back from his caving trip. We had planned to go to Hanoi at the weekend and as yet had not booked anything in so it would be handy to have the afternoon to do that before he went to his gala dinner at Chay Lap. Thuy couldn’t accommodate me for a morning appointment and so I had to have a 3pm one.
I had a breakfast at the Nam Long Plus again; a half bowl of pho bo, orange juice, tea, fruit salad and then a banana and some water to try to keep hydrated. For lunch I was tucking in to a chicken salad from Tree Hugger, which came with peanuts, when I got a call from Captain Caveman’s manager. She had been notified he was on his way out of Son Doong and was in severe pain. In all the years Captain Caveman has been doing this job I’d never had one of these calls and it was very worrying. She kept me updated and then Captain Caveman got in touch to say he was on his way to hospital, he didn’t know what was wrong and that the pain had occurred as he had started to climb up the Great Wall of Vietnam which is the exit route from Hang Son Doong. By this time I was due at physio and wasn’t sure whether to head to the hospital or not but I know he hates fuss and so I decided to carry on with my plan until I knew more – he had a guide with him who could translate and update me if I was needed.
At physio I had 2 therapists over the 2 hours I was there and my leg seemed to be feeling a bit less painful but still not strong enough and this was my last session before my trip away. They advised I shouldn’t take the break of the week off and that I should keep having the physio 6 days per week. They weren’t really sure how much longer it would take but another month or two was mentioned!
While I was being mauled I got an update that Captain Caveman was going to be ok but he had somehow managed to break a rib without noticing. He was told to rest up for a few days and that he should be ok, so he was already on his way back home.
I shared the car to Phong Nha with the Triple Cripple Club members and on the way back Captain Caveman called to let me know he was off to meet some of the people from his tour at the floating restaurant and he would meet me at The Villas for dinner. My fellow diners both ordered pizza and I had the confit duck leg but I did have a piece of Caroline’s pizza (because I had taken the medicine) to see what would happen. Back home I bum shuffled up the stairs in the semi darkness and was definitely getting quicker but it was hard work and the floor was very dusty on account of us not having the cleaner in today!

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 3rd week of July

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 3rd week of July

After such an amazing and relaxing weekend it would be difficult to follow it up with another exciting day, but on Monday 13th July we tried our best! After a breakfast at Phong Nha Farmstay and making use of the private pool one last time, we met Veronika for lunch. I had fried spring rolls this time and we also managed to get ourselves a great selection of wine to take home. One of our favourites, Santa Digna, was there so we got all the remaining bottles of that! Captain Caveman had organised the return car to take me to Dong Hoi for physio and back so that we could meet up for dinner in Phong Nha later.

At physio the old lady who is usually there was chatting on to me in Vietnamese and I had no clue what she was saying, so I took a photo of us. The Triple Cripple Club were in full attendance, all was well and on the way back to Phong Nha it started to rain quite heavily so I got dropped off at Namaste – the floor outside was super slippery but I managed to get to the door without any help and then Raj came over when he saw me. Captain Caveman and I had arranged to meet friends for a curry, Keith was back in Phong Nha and so we said we would meet there at 6.15pm. The food was so good that I forgot to take any decent photos and, as some of the others went out after to Momma D’s, I booked Phuong to drive me home while Captain Caveman cycled.
All in all not a bad Monday and the first time in a while that I’d been home!

Captain Caveman was off on his next trip to Son Doong on Tuesday 14th July but that meant we still had time for a breakfast at The Villas to celebrate their 3rd birthday. This day also marked 6 months since I left Istanbul and flew to Hanoi. I was very happy to be in Vietnam and was awaiting my visa being extended for another 3 months – sadly it didn’t look likely that I would get to visit family and friends in England and Turkey for quite some time.
Captain Caveman and I went by motorbike to The Villas and, although a bit awkward with my leg, I did manage to get there with only being slightly uncomfortable. This was another first for me and I was pleased to be a bit more mobile, even though I couldn’t have gone much further than a couple of kilometres. On arrival at The Villas they were having all day happy hour to celebrate but I resisted and took my medication instead (one of which looked like a Bailey’s). Captain Caveman had eggs benedict with smoked salmon while I stuck to the pho ga for breakfast. It was a lovely breakfast and the staff looked after me because I still struggle to open and close the heavy glass doors while crutching about. Back home I said bye to Captain Caveman and achieved another first since my injury – I managed to collect the washing in from the balcony and pack it back in to my bag.

Today I was off back to Dong Hoi but was sharing the cost of the car with the other members of the Triple Cripple Club. The car was already on another job and was running late so to make it easier for us to leave as soon as the car came I walked to Mountain Bar with my backpack and bum bag on (another first)! It’s not that far but by this time it was blisteringly hot and the walk was hard work for me, especially standing for any length of time. By the time we got to Dong Hoi the others had to go straight to their appointments so I asked the driver to drop me at Nam Long Plus hotel. I just had time to order some lunch from Tree Hugger, drop my bag off and have a bit of a rest before taking a taxi to my physio appointment. Physio was different today as at the end of my session we spent 10 minutes doing more exercises than normal and I had to play football with my bad leg. Although I managed the activity I did hurt my good foot which resulted in an injury to my 2 smallest toes.
Back at the Nam Long Plus hotel I had a nice bath then I looked in the mirror and saw I was sunburnt. I had a rest, watched Netflix and did some writing before falling asleep, exhausted!!!

Wednesday 15th July was the day my current visa expired and I was hoping to hear my next 3 month visa extension had been granted. My physio appointment was in the morning this time which I do prefer as then I still have the rest of the day to do stuff.
By midday I was tucking in to a Tree Hugger lunch and enjoying my ‘cure for gluten intolerance’ medication (I won’t go into to details but to say the Gastropulgite was doing its job was an understatement)! I enjoyed very much the cheeseburger, a fruit salad, peach tea and a complimentary apple.
In the afternoon I was meant to be going back to Phong Nha but I changed my mind and instead I started watching Bloodline on Netflix. Unfortunately there was a big downpour, the WiFi went off and I had trouble being able to do my Turkish lessons.
I had 7th Heaven delivery for dinner, which was delicious and just enjoyed having a chilled evening.

I had left overs for breakfast on Thursday 16th July, I did some Turkish, watched more of Bloodline (which I was getting in to) then ordered lunch from Tree Hugger. The WiFi was still patchy and the staff at the hotel were having problems fixing it.
Keith from Grimsby was going to be in Dong Hoi that night and so we arranged to meet for dinner. When I arrived at physio the other two thirds of the club members were already in session. My stint went ok, the ankle swelling was reducing and I was needing less ice on it. There was not much change to the knee apart from there was no pain when it was still now.
Back at the hotel I had a bubble bath before meeting Keith and going to 7th Heaven for a night out. We shared a bottle of red wine, he had chilli con carne and pancakes for dessert while I went for the steak with sweet potato fries. It was a good night and as usual the food was really tasty – one of my favourite places to eat dinner in Dong Hoi.
Back at the hotel Keith had a beer, we agreed to meet for breakfast and I was so tired that I went to my room and straight to bed.

Photo/video credit – Captain Caveman and Caroline Borrow