Phong Nha – the 1st weekend of October

Phong Nha – the 1st weekend of October

On Friday 2nd October I had an early appointment at physio and so Phuong picked me up at 7am and my session went well in Dong Hoi. On my return I had fruit and yoghurt for breakfast and then made some popcorn for lunch as well as snacking on salami (as you do). Captain Caveman was already out and about in Phong Nha village and I’d had a message to say our wine delivery was ready. We had ordered 6 bottles  of the Lindeman’s sparkling and 6 of our favourite red! I was definitely making progress because now I could actually look up a bit when I walked rather than always looking at my feet. Captain Caveman went to the The Villas and then to an Oxalis colleague’s house warming party, I had a couple of White Russians, forgot to eat dinner then had cheese and rice crackers before bed!

Saturday 3rd October wasn’t as smooth a day as planned really. Of course I know I’m not adventurous in the slightest but I had one of those days where I just imagined I could do everything I wanted to without any issues! Captain Caveman was in charge in the kitchen and cooked me a breakfast of bacon and mushrooms while he did himself a fuller more eggy affair. My car and physio were booked in a bit earlier so I could get to The Villas after physio and then still make it to a Farmstay birthday party. The first thing to change was that my physio appointment moved to 3pm, meaning I would not get to The Villas until 6pm giving me only 30 minutes before I had to get to the birthday party so I had to cancel going to The Villas. At the Farmstay the nibbles were great, I had wine and chatted to Andrew (ex member of the Triple Cripple Club) and his wife, Trang. We also met a very interesting fella who used to be a bodyguard for Margaret Thatcher and Princess Anne! The night was very nice and I decided to order more food, as I’d not had any lunch, while we drank and listened to the remarkable tales from Mr Jackson!

Our Sundays were starting to become a little more British in that we had frequented Phong Nha Farmstay several times for a Sunday roast dinner and the 4th October was one of those occasions. Captain Caveman and I both had a day off with absolutely nothing planned so we decided to go to the Farmstay for breakfast. They’d had an order of ginger beer arrived recently and so I had a cold one with ice and a pho bo (beef noodle soup). It was very hot and humid so we had a massive fan on us as we chatted to Mr Jackson, the fascinating gentleman who had started on the cold beers after finishing his working day at 11am! Captain Caveman wasn’t long before he decided a cold Huda beer would be a good idea and I joined later with a red berries Strongbow. It would have been very easy to have an all day drinking sesh but I knew I had to be sensible and not just because of being an invalid! I had a dip in the pool and left Captain Caveman to it. When I got back Momma D and the cavers were already at a table of 4 and had ordered Sunday dinner. The birthday girl, Lesley, arrived and joined our table which consisted of Captain Caveman, Veronika, me and Mr Jackson. I didn’t have any Gastropulgite stomach medication so this time I didn’t eat any of the food with gluten in and was delighted to find out that Lesley hates the pork crackling and I could have her’s. I got a bottle of red wine, as well as the included glass with the roast dinner. There was cheesecake, chocolate cake or carrot cake for dessert and I had the cheesecake but didn’t eat the base – Lesley had that. I really enjoyed my dinner and we left fairly early because Captain Caveman needed to set the alarm for 4.30am the next day – he was off on an early morning adventure!

If you want to see what the Farmstay Sunday Roast Dinner is like you can check out this video on Facebook which made by Ben:
https://www.facebook.com/148614098486550/posts/3868407316507191/?sfnsn=mo

Phong Nha – 1st October

Phong Nha – 1st October

On Thursday 1st October the weather was still nice but the forecast predicted rain, October and November are the wettest months in Phong Nha, Quang Binh, so we were about to be in for a treat this month. After a breakfast of a pear, peanuts and crisps I did a quick review of how my JOLOYOLO blog was doing. The posts relating to Dalyan, Turkey, were still the most popular posts by far, despite me not having been there for 9 months. The nationality of my blog readers showed that the UK was still in first place, followed by Vietnam, USA, Australia, Canada and then Turkey. I spotted that I even had someone from Nigeria and a newcomer from Lebanon reading. Captain Caveman had gone out and about early in the morning, I skipped lunch as I was off to my physio appointment and didn’t want to eat before the journey and session. Captain Caveman came with me, I picked him up from the Lake House on the way, and he went for coffee with Phuong while I was getting my pummelling for an hour and a half. At 4.30pm I was picked back up from physio by Phuong and Captain Caveman, we headed over to the Lake House for a romantic dinner. The views were nice and the staff were polite and attentive. We both had the Australian Beef steak and french fries for dinner with a nice bottle of red wine. The food was delicious, maybe even better than the last time and I love that they put a big roasted garlic on the side which goes well with the meat and pepper sauce. While we were there I saw a friend had posted on Facebook a quiz to check how much on the autism spectrum a person was and so Captain Caveman and I completed the test. Surprisingly I was more on the spectrum than Captain Caveman in some respects and he must have cheated, surely!?

Arriving in Vietnam – January

Arriving in Vietnam – January

I’ve been in Vietnam for 9 months now and I wrote this blog post about my arrival at the time. I was only meant to be here for 3 months and had plans to be in Turkey by mid April. Could this be the year that I stay in Vietnam for a whole year for the first time?

I landed in Hanoi at 9am on Wednesday 15th January and, because I had a seat near the back of the plane, it took quite a long time to disembark. Luckily I was in no rush and was quite happy to avoid the many Vietnamese passengers who were literally scrambling to get luggage out of the overhead bins the quickest (and failing). I got my Vietnam Visa on arrival within half an hour and went to collect my suitcase. By 11am it had not arrived and most people had collected their’s, as I decided to go to report it lost, a man shouted to say his had been sitting on a different carousel further down the hall. I went over and there it was – I was relieved because the case wasn’t mine although it had nothing valuable in it.
I decided to check out the sleep pods (which they have at both the international and domestic terminals) and considered maybe paying for a nap but at 190,575 dong per hour (£6 ish) I reckoned I’d be best off going for some food instead. I’d now been awake for 24 hours and had a bit of sea-sickness feeling so I went to the ATM, drew out 2 million dong, then got the shuttlebus over to the domestic terminal. I sat next to a young girl from Shanghai who worked in Saigon but was on holiday for the lunar new year (Tet) already, she was very chatty and friendly. At Hanoi domestic terminal there are a few restaurants accessible before passport control on the 2nd floor and I chose Hai Cang where I ordered pork and rice with a side of sweetcorn and green tea. It isn’t cheap but the food was actually very tasty and the service was attentive.
I used the self check-in machines for the next flight to Dong Hoi but the bag drop didn’t open until 2 hours before the flight so I sat and waited. Outside the airport it was really windy, cloudy but very warm for January. I found a cafe where I had a cold green tea drink and they were happy for me to sit and use their WiFi (I no longer had a working SIM card).
Finally at 3.30pm I was able to drop the suitcase off and then head through passport control in search of wine. I found an Australian Chardonnay which tasted so good despite it costing about £7.50 for a large glass (extortionate in Vietnam).

The flight was on one of those small propeller planes and everyone had so much luggage that I couldn’t put my legs under my seat but it was a quick flight and I was waiting for my suitcase again at 7.15pm in Dong Hoi airport.
I took a taxi to the Vin Pearl hotel (for less than half the cost of the glass of wine) where Captain Caveman was already checked in to our room on the 19th floor. We’ve stayed here before a few times and it didn’t disappoint, the shower was great with lots of free products and I had the satsuma from the fruit plate before going to the restaurant for dinner. Captain Caveman ordered beef carpaccio to start while I went for fresh veggie spring rolls for my starter. They brought me the pork and prawn version instead but they were nice. My main meal was tamarind prawns which didn’t come with any rice so I was still a bit peckish and ate a mango from the fruit plate when I got back to the room. I unpacked my stuff and showed Captain Caveman my Christmas and birthday gifts while he showed me his cuts and bruises – he had just finished a caving expedition in Laos and I think the jungle had taken its toll on him.

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – end of September

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – end of September

Phuong arrived promptly at 7am on Tuesday 29th September, both Captain Caveman and I went to Dong Hoi and he popped to get some shopping while I had my early physio session. When I got there I ended up having to wait until 8.30am as they were so busy and, as always, I was grateful that Thuy could fit around my busy schedule. Back home Captain Caveman had to go to work again and I made myself some brunch of falafel, rice cracker, plain yoghurt and a bit of cheese. Later when Captain Caveman had finished working he made us a two course dinner of homemade guacamole with rice crackers to start, followed by bacon, asparagus and cheese – his new signature dish! I had a a couple of glasses of red wine too while Captain Caveman decided to have White Russians which were a little on the strong side. Tomorrow I had a very busy day coming up and hoped I would be able to manage without Captain Caveman’s help.

It was my first time doing the shopping without Captain Caveman on Wednesday 30th September and although I could walk without my helping sticks I still needed them a little, for going down the steps mostly – I was also still not confident on slippy tiles. I could have decided not to go because I do go to Dong Hoi most days for physio but I wanted to see how I did at going shopping without Captain Caveman’s help. Our first stop was the small organic shop which I managed to get a few things at without any problems, the produce is fresh and considerably cheaper than in the west – I spent less than a tenner on fruit and veg. The next stop was the Vincom centre where I was a bit apprehensive about the escalators but I managed them, the floor is slippy in the Vinmart and so I avoided the wet aisles so as not to fall. I decided not to bother with a basket either as I was carrying my crutch, surprisingly I wasn’t the last one to finish shopping – in fact I was the first because I was so conscious of taking too long. I managed to pick up a few essentials including salami, mushrooms and pringles for Captain Caveman all for around £6. It was very hot and sunny outside so I decided to do the steps instead of the extra long ramp and I managed that with one crutch for support while carrying my bag of shopping too. The trip was organised by Bich and Ben at Phong Nha Farmstay and I find it really useful that Bich knows which places to go to get specific things, including a shop not far from the train station with good quality bedding. After the Vinmart supermarket I walked across the road over to the sunshine bus to load my stuff in and then went in to QB Casa with Veronika’s youngest grandson. He had an ice-cream and I had a coconut, when Bich arrived she had a steak which looked great and I had pork fried rice which was rather good. Back home there was no rest as I logged on to an afternoon of language lessons. For dinner Captain Caveman tussled up a feast with gluten free sausages (from Momma D’s) and red wine. He also told me we would have a meal out somewhere nice tomorrow after I got back from physio.

Hang Son Doong – my trip to the biggest cave in the world

Hang Son Doong – my trip to the biggest cave in the world

I rarely like to do things that are adventurous or physically demanding and so when I signed up for a trip to the biggest cave in the world I couldn’t have been more out of my depth!!! Friends and family had wondered if I would actually do it and, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I had what it took to go the distance but I wondered if I might regret it if I didn’t try. I wrote a series of blog posts shortly after which told my experience of each day of my tour, which I have listed here. Would I do it again? Probably not! For me I think it would have to remain a once in a lifetime experience. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! It was a few years ago and the tour has been changed since my trip but you still get a good idea of what it’s like from the perspective of a forty-something woman who had very little trekking or caving experience.

https://joloyolo.com/2017/01/20/my-hang-son-doong-experience-day-1/


https://joloyolo.com/2017/01/26/my-hang-son-doong-experience-day-2/

https://joloyolo.com/2017/01/27/my-hang-son-doong-experience-day-3/

https://joloyolo.com/2017/02/02/my-hang-song-doong-experience-day-4/

https://joloyolo.com/2017/02/03/my-hang-son-doong-experience-day-5/

Photo credit to Captain Caveman and my fellow cavers

For more up to date information about Hang Son Doong and to check availability you can use this link: https://oxalisadventure.com/cave/son-doong-cave/

Phong Nha – 28th September

Phong Nha – 28th September

On Monday 28th September I had an early pick up booked with Phuong for 06:50am because, by the time Thuy had agreed to my morning appointment, my driver was already booked in by Shannon and her family. Luckily she agreed to let me share the vehicle and he picked me up first then on to pick the 4 of them up. I got dropped off first at physio and then they were all off to run errands in Dong Hoi for the morning. They were staying in town longer and so I couldn’t get a ride back with them but Phuong arranged for a taxi to pick me up for the ride back to Phong Nha. Physio went ok but Nam really put me through my paces and I nearly cried with the pain, especially when he wiggled my nerves near my ankle, which made me feel hot and faint. Once back in Phong Nha I was dropped off at Phong Nha Farmstay in readiness for our lunchtime adventure with Ben and some of the Farmstay guests. Captain Caveman came to meet me there and we all set off in the jeep with the others. We went through streams and rivers in the jeep and by the time we got there it was raining and we were all covered in mud. At one point we decided to go a different way so that we didn’t get stuck in the river. Ben had ordered the local pork dish and the famous BBQ chicken with peanut sauce, sweet potato leaves with garlic and steamed rice. I was so hungry because I’d not had any breakfast and so I definitely had my fill, I even had Gastropulgite and a beer! When we came to pay it worked out about 100,000 vnd per person for an absolute feast! It was so delicious and the first time I had managed a visit there in over 6 months!
Afterwards Ben decided we would go for it on the river crossing and we got stuck, the jeep filled up with water and I worried I wouldn’t be able to get out to swim, walk or push. Ben put it in to reverse, I could tell he wasn’t sure if we would get out but we did and some of the route was pretty adventurous (for me, anyway). I needed a lay down when I got back, I was so full and tired.
That night Captain Caveman decide to go hunting for snakes with Ben and a Farmstay guest who is a snake enthusiast and very interesting bloke from Australia. Videos were made of the Pub with Cold Beer trip as well as the snake search which I have added below for those who are interested in having a look.


Check out Melissa’s video of our Jeep ride to the Pub with Cold Beer: https://www.facebook.com/784377811644124/posts/3366881766727036/?sfnsn=mo


Ben captures our visit to the Pub with Cold Beer: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10159417295983115&id=552758114&sfnsn=mo

Ben’s video of the search for snakes:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10159423218603115&id=552758114&sfnsn=mo

Photo and video credit – Captain Caveman, Melissa Wiringi, Ben Mitchell

Phong Nha – the last weekend of September

Phong Nha – the last weekend of September

There was no physio today, Friday 25th September because I had requested the day off. Just after mid-day it started to rain and it was nice for it to feel a bit cooler. For lunch I had taken out some corn tortillas from the freezer and decided to have them with lettuce and hummus (3 of them) and then peanut butter (2 of) with some more grapes and water. In the news Vietnam was pleased about having beaten the Corona virus for the second time. The Vietnamese prime minister still kept on asking people to be vigilant as it could reappear at any time and that masks and social distancing were still important. Danang opened back up again and declared it being back to normal now for visitors.
Captain Caveman finished work and cooked us gluten free sausages (from Momma D’s) with potatoes, garlic, onion and peppers for dinner which we had with a glass of red wine too – rather a quiet start to the weekend.

On Saturday 26th September we had left over dinner for brunch but with added bacon and mushrooms, it was really tasty but not particularly healthy! I had earl grey tea and lots of water and then was ready for my afternoon physio appointment. Back in the UK there was an app launched to help track and trace the virus which was fairly similar to the one we had been checking in on in Vietnam since 29th March – if only they had used it sooner. When I arrived back home I felt really dehydrated so had a cold bottle of Revive, then shared some wine and just had hummus and rice crackers for my dinner. I’d managed 10 hours of physio this week and was hoping to be better soon, I was definitely improving. Captain Caveman and I had planned to go to Hanoi and Sapa for a short holiday in October and to renew my visa which expires on the 10th October – hopefully I would be better for the trip!

Our Sunday, on 27th September, was pretty indulgent although I did try to restrict the amount of wine I had! Captain Caveman cooked us asparagus with bacon and parmesan cheese for breakfast, he added a poached egg to his and even made me an earl grey tea. He did some more work sorting and I had fruit and yoghurt for lunch. We got word that Phong Nha Farmstay had it’s Sunday dinner on again and so we decided to go. I chugged down a Gastropulgite beforehand so I didn’t need to worry about any gluten and we were away. I still gave Captain Caveman my garlic bread but this time I had the pasta which was included this week. It was amazing and the first pasta I’ve had this year – I miss pasta! I also scoffed down the pork roast, with crackling, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, sweet potatoes, courgette, carrot, green beans and broccoli with 2 glasses of red wine. It was absolutely delicious and the best thing I’d eaten all week. I even took home the chocolate cake, which was included in the price (as was a  glass of wine) and was a pretty good feast for 300,000 vnd. When we got back home I got confirmation that I could have an early physio appointment on Monday morning, which worked well because we had a small lunchtime adventure planned!

If you want to see a video featuring Sunday dinner footage by Ben at Phong Nha Farmstay, here it is:. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10159412189318115&id=552758114&sfnsn=mo

Photo credit – Captain Caveman
Video credit – Ben Mitchell

Phong Nha – the 4th week of September

Phong Nha – the 4th week of September

Breakfast for me on Monday 21st September was a rice cracker, 2 Laughing Cow light cheese triangles and a snickers. Captain Caveman went to do some work but was finished by the time it came to share the ride to Dong Hoi with me at 2pm. I actually managed to go in and out of the physio building without my helping sticks (crutches) for the first time but I still needed a hand on the 2 steps. When I got back in to Phuong’s minibus I had a surprise waiting for me – Captain Caveman had bought me a popcorn maker as a present. I already have one at my parents’ house in Sheffield and I have wanted to bring it over to Vietnam or Turkey. I was so excited because now it means I can have gluten free snacks which are healthy and won’t make me sick with surprise gluten in. Electric items are so expensive here though and it cost about £60 for a basic model – I think Captain Caveman felt bad for shouting at me for trying to wash up in ‘his’ kitchen. Vananh from Phong Nha Underground was back in Phong Nha and would be opening the restaurant tomorrow for a couple of days so that they could sell off stock and then she would close for the winter, we decided Captain Caveman would go to collect some items for our fridge/freezer and she messaged me a list of what was available. Back home I didn’t try my popcorn maker but I had a Revive drink and some cashew nuts as a snack. For dinner Captain Caveman cooked steak with salad and olives and I decided to have a day off the alcohol.

I had 4 mini salamis and a half of a rice cracker for breakfast on Tuesday 22nd September then a lunch of salad and olives – conscious of my ever present dodgy stomach. We had both been invited to Ho Khanh’s for an end of season party that evening but only Captain Caveman was going to go. I caught up on languages, blogging and read more of the book by Melissa Wiringi, Domestic Violence on Ice. In Corona data the world had exceeded 23 million recoveries and in Vietnam they had now gone 20 days without any more cases being reported in the community. A man in the north of Vietnam had been positive, recovered, tested negative more than once and had now tested positive again.
My physio was at 3pm and the sessions were going well, even if it meant it was very slowly. Captain Caveman arranged to pick up some Phong Nha Underground food the next day so that Vananh could be there to supervise any ‘complicated’ orders. For dinner I had more salad with a bit of hummus, a couple of glasses of red wine and then enjoyed an early night.

I was up at 6.30am on Wednesday 23rd September because Thuy at physio had managed to fit me in on a morning appointment which I was very happy about. Phuong picked me up at 7am and I was in the heat room by 7.45am followed by my 2 hour session from 8-10am. In the news Vietnam had gone 3 weeks without any new Corona cases in the community, Hoi An had reopened and Danang had it’s last Corona patient recovered so now there was no more Corona in Danang and 2 months had passed since the second wave started.  When I got home I tried the popcorn machine and had some healthy popcorn which was amazing. By 1pm Captain Caveman was eventually back from Phong Nha Underground with lunch, hummus, falafel, cheese and steak. I had the pork, veg and rice for my lunch which was nice and it was sad that the restaurant would be closed for the rest of the season. For dinner I had my newly acquired Phong Nha Underground hummus with rice crackers and a couple of glasses of red wine. It was another early night (I was getting used to this) as I had another morning appointment at physio the next day.

I was lucky enough to have another morning physio appointment on Thursday 24th September and so the alarm went off at 6.30am and we were both in Phuong’s minibus at 7am. Captain Caveman had decided to come along so that he could get some shopping while I was at my session. It went well and I was making some progress although the physio was still painful. When we got back home we had another argument over the kitchen arrangements and I was not amused – he’s obsessed with things having to be done his way. I had some grapes and mini salamis for breakfast and ignored his funny ways. He went to work and was going to another work party later so I would be able to do my own thing. I did my usual chores then finished Domestic Violence on Ice, the book written by our neighbour Melissa Wiringi – it was a really good read and a fascinating, brutally honest story! The Corona cases had reached over 32 million worldwide now, Vietnam had agreed to open up flights with 6 other countries and the first flight to South Korea from Hanoi was due to fly tomorrow. I had hummus, rice crackers and steamed rice with tamari sauce on for lunch. For dinner I cooked fried rice with red cabbage, red pepper, garlic and falafel and it was really nice. I was pleased to have made my first meal in the kitchen by myself, without any help or needing my crutches. I decided not to have any booze that night either and stayed up watching something I immediately forgot about on Netflix.

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of September

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of September

I was awake several times during the early hours of Friday 18th September as I could hear the rains getting heavier and the winds becoming stronger. I got up for a pee at 4am and then the power went off, Captain Caveman was snoring away unaware that Noul the tropical storm was here. At around 4.45am the power came back on and I finally got back to sleep. Captain Caveman started cooking breakfast, I avoided all the wet floors so that I didn’t slip. In Hue the storm had been brutal and had caused a lot of damage, Danang was also fairly badly affected. Here, in Phong Nha, we were extremely lucky. My plate of bacon, mushrooms and gluten free sausages (from Momma D’s) went down well and in the afternoon I ate more grapes and drank lots of water. Because of the storm I didn’t go to physio and spent some time studying my languages instead.
For dinner Captain Caveman had made us a salad with cheese and cashew nuts and we had a glass of red wine. For dessert we shared some peanut M&Ms!

On Saturday 19th September I had a mango for breakfast and then got on with some languages and blogging because I had another day off and wasn’t going anywhere.  Captain Caveman got temporarily stranded at Oxalis Home, sheltering from another rain storm. The weather had calmed down here but it was still wet out. For lunch I had rice crackers, cashew nuts and a banana and because I knew I didn’t have to be anywhere I tried yoghurt again – this time I was fine! So fine that I managed crisps and a couple of Strongbow ciders that afternoon too.
I started to read a book that our neighbour (Melissa Wiringi) had written, called Domestic Violence on Ice. I read the first chapter and I knew it was going to be one of those books that’s hard to put down. Captain Caveman made dinner of gluten free sausages (beef ones this time) potatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, carrots and mushrooms and it was really tasty.

Captain Caveman went off early to watch the Phong Nha football match and then do some work on Sunday 20th September. I made myself a fruit salad using a pink dragon fruit, 2 apples and a banana which I had with yoghurt and was fine (again) thus assuming I am not allergic to dairy! I was very productive and completed lessons in Vietnamese, Turkish and French on the Duolingo app before getting on with some blog writing and then watching Social Dilemma on Netflix. I read more of Melissa’s book and was really getting into it, it is very well written, about a subject I know nothing of and would normally not have chosen to read it. Captain Caveman was back by lunch and we had made a lunch of potatoes with onion, garlic and melted cheese as a joint effort but mainly with Captain Caveman doing the cooking. He lost it when I started doing the washing up and said it was his turn!!! I was furious because all these months of him complaining that he had to wash up everything all the time, he would also leave pots unwashed for days because it was such a chore. Now I could actually do washing up a bit easier but got shouted at for trying – I ended up attempting to stomp off but couldn’t even do that well enough! He washed up and said he was sorry but I was still upset because I had started to feel I was improving by being able to do my bit, especially in the kitchen, was progress. I spent the afternoon reading more of the book which was really getting quite gripping. At 4.30pm I had to put it down because we had organised to go to The Farmstay for Sunday dinner. When we arrived we ordered a bottle of the R7 red wine, which is one of our favourites. We sat at a table by the pool to enjoy a relaxed drink and the dinner was really nice, I even had a Gastropulgite so that I could eat without getting ‘glutened’ even though I did give my garlic bread and pasta to Captain Caveman and I just had ice-cream for dessert.

Check out this video of the Phong Nha Farmstay’s Sunday Dinner: https://www.facebook.com/148614098486550/posts/3863031940378062/

Photo credit – Captain Caveman

Video credit Ben Mitchell, Phong Nha Farmstay

Dalyan – a boat trip, September 2019

Dalyan – a boat trip, September 2019

Yusuf at Amy’s bar had booked us on his boat trip on Thursday 26th September and so I met my parents at Jazz bar at 10am. We already had our swimmers on and had took a bag with a towel each and some suncream. We were lucky as we only had 4 more people onboard and so with just 7 guests it looked to be a nice peaceful and relaxing day. We sailed out on to the sea while drinking a cup of strong tea and I forgot to take a sea-sickness tablet. We had the chance to try a spot of fishing, swim in beautiful bays and enjoy the odd beverage.
Lunch was a buffet and BBQ which was really good – I took my own gluten free bread but didn’t have it because I was so full of chicken, meatballs, salad, broccoli, carrot yogurt dip, spinach yogurt dip and rice! After lunch we had more chilling, sunbathing on the top deck of the boat then swimming in Candır lake where there are thermal springs under the water.
While we were there my friends were on another boat in the lake so I got off and we swam to meet each other for a chat (as you do). When I got back on the boat there was a glass of wine and a fruit plate waiting for me. The trip lasted until after 5pm and was a really good price at £30 each for the day out and all food and drink!



In the evening we had a lovely first meal at Meet Meat where we picked our own meat to be cooked then we had a glass of wine on the way home at Bistro Blue.

Photo credit – Yusuf Toprak

Phong Nha – the 3rd week of September

Phong Nha – the 3rd week of September

The week started with Captain Caveman getting up at 4.30am on Monday 14th September so that he could join a cycling trip in the National Park. Ben at Phong Nha Farmstay had arranged it along with 2 guests and him so asked if Captain Caveman wanted to join. Going early meant that it wasn’t too hot and by the time I got out of bed the 4 of them were probably back at The Villas having breakfast. I just had a banana for my breakfast so that I wouldn’t be ill for my afternoon physio appointment. I finished watching one of the most upsetting documentaries I’d seen in a while, Chasing Coral and I had no idea what was happening under the sea – it was devastating and I had a little cry. Thuy, from physio, was kind enough to move my physiotherapy session to 2pm and so Phuong was booked to pick me up at 1pm. For lunch I didn’t dare chance anything but salted crisps and water but it did mean I was starving hungry by the time I got dropped off to meet Captain Caveman. He had been working in the afternoon and so we decided to have a date night at The Lake House where he had also pre-ordered some freshly baked bread. I got there first as Phuong dropped me off and I ordered a coke as I was very thirsty after physio. I had a chat with Tam, the owner, and I managed to show off a bit by walking a few steps without the crutches but I was still using both of them for getting about.  Captain Caveman arrived by motorbike after he’d finished work and we shared the chicken satay for a starter and a bottle of red wine. The menu at The Lake House is the same as at 7th Heaven in Dong Hoi and as I’d not had the food there for a while I was looking forward to the steak. It came with potato wedges, which normally I’m not a fan of but they were very nice. Captain Caveman had a chicken cordon bleu which I was too slow to get a photo of. Tam gave us both an ice-cream afterwards which was so good. Caroline popped in for a visit after a trip to East Hill with her friend and we had a drink together and an invite for more drinks at The Villas but we declined. It was a bit further a ride home on the back of the motorbike than I had remembered but I was ok and went straight to bed.

Interested in a video of the boys on their bicycles, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/148614098486550/posts/3807514345929822/?sfnsn=mo

We decided to venture to the Farmstay for breakfast on Tuesday 15th September where I had a pho ga and 2 green teas while Captain Caveman snaffled down a cheese toastie and some espressos. We stayed there a while chatting to Ben and Bich before I ordered a second breakfast of fruit salad with yoghurt to take away, which I had for lunch. I booked Phuong to take me to physio and then drop me at The Villas for Happy Hour and a Half later on. After my usual 3pm physio session I got to The Villas before anyone else and sat at a table outside. Caroline and her friend were due to meet us and arrived shortly after Captain Caveman. I ordered peanuts, popcorn and margaritas and we all chatted. I decided to have veggie spring rolls and the potato gratin with asparagus as my dinner because I felt I needed the carbs to be able to stomach a drinking session while Captain Caveman nipped off to watch the Son Doong Cup 2020 football match. When he came back to get me I had drank 3 margaritas and was tipsy and I slept very well that night.

We were meant to get up earlier on Wednesday 16th September so that we could eat breakfast before our trip to Dong Hoi – I forgot to set an alarm and I was very tired. The sunshine bus set off at 8.30am and after a 45 minute drive we were at the supermarket in Dong Hoi where I managed to walk around with just one crutch fairly quickly, considering. We bought apples, grapes and some wine – Captain Caveman was in charge of the basket and I obviously couldn’t keep up with him. We didn’t stay long and we got back in the bus after half an hour. The next stop was an organic grocers, a small shop full of fruit and veg, quality of the produce was great and we picked up a few things. After only 25 minutes we were back on the bus and off to the Vincom centre where Captain Caveman did all of the shopping in Vinmart supermarket while I had a browse. I found it difficult to get on and off the escalator because they seemed to go so fast for me but I was ok and didn’t fall.
The last stop was at QB Casa, where I sat and had a coconut which I really enjoyed while Captain Caveman looked confused at his double espresso which arrived in two separate cups.  We got back in the fun bus just after 11am and was home by noon – a successful shopping trip and such a full fridge! Captain Caveman would be looking forward to knocking up a few gourmet meals while I was happy to have a decent fruit salad when I was home. I had rice cracker and grapes for lunch – I do love a rice cracker!  later on Captain Caveman made us White Russians and for dinner I made us a halloumi salad which was very tasty and healthy. Before bed I had time to call my parents who  were doing well, it was good to speak to them.

On Thursday 17th September Captain Caveman went to watch a morning football match, I had some lovely seedless grapes for breakfast and drank plenty of water while checking in on the NCOVI app. The world had reached 30 million reported cases now with no signs of slowing down. I tried to get an earlier physio appointment but failed so had a very safe lunch of corn tortillas with peanut butter and water. The tortillas had been in the freezer at the Glass House since our last trip to Hanoi where we bought a packet from Salt ‘n’ Lime because they were gluten free. I warmed them in a dry frying pan and they were the nicest (gluten free) bread product I had tasted in a while – I had 3! In the news there were warnings of a tropical storm coming, which I got confused was a typhoon. It was called Noul and we were told the winds would be very strong, it would rain and there was a possibility of loss of power.
When I arrived at physio for my 3pm appointment it was 2.30pm so they fitted me in then, meaning I could leave at 4.30pm and hopefully miss the bad weather. That afternoon Bich called to invite us all to the Farmstay for a dinner, she was cooking a Mi Quang. It was already raining when we got to The Farmstay, I managed to seat myself on a high chair (another first since my injury) and we ordered a bottle of our favourite red wine (R7). The Mi Quang was absolutely delicious and we both really enjoyed it and of course it was gluten free. Before the weather got too bad we went home with some wine left. The eye of the storm was due to hit us while we were sleeping, possibly around 3am.

Photo credit – Captain Caveman
Video credit – Ben at Phong Nha Farmstay