Luckily our neighbours were able to use the L shaped sofa for two of them and the other three (including the adults) put up a makeshift bed with cushions on the mezzanine floor overlooking the lounge. While the ten of us didn’t get as much sleep as we might have wanted, or were used to, we were certainly a thousand times luckier than some of the locals in Phong Nha, Tan Hoa and nearby Le Thuy. A lot of Phong Nha residents, we would find out later, did not sleep all night but stayed awake trying to protect themselves, each other, their property, and their animals. The property we were staying in was on high ground with little likelihood of flooding, we even said on Sunday night that if we were flooded tomorrow then a lot of people would be in serious trouble!!!
I woke to the sound of Captain Caveman’s snoring at 4am on Monday 19th October. I went to the bathroom using my emergency light but didn’t look out of the window so wasn’t sure how bad the weather was, only to know it was still raining and we had no electricity. The whole house was up and about before 7am and we were all shocked to see that the flood water was about a quarter of the way up the garden gate, water had come in to the kitchen downstairs and we had to make our first house rule. It was mainly for the safety of the younger children, the elderly and the disabled; permission from Veronika was required to go past the top step of the stairs to the kitchen. All pans, bowls and containers were assembled outside for collecting rain water and once we had the generator on we put a huge load of rice in the rice cooker. Veronika made 2 minute noodles for anyone that wanted them, mainly the kids, while Captain Caveman made me and him bacon on the hot plate – it was such a good job Co and Duyet had insisted on moving our kitchen appliances upstairs. I had my bacon with steamed rice and some focaccia bread – who cared about gluten now, I wasn’t going to go hungry! Veronika made tea for everyone and I had a cup of green then she decided to boil some eggs for if the power went off again. Melissa and Remy were easy going, luckily, so just went along with whatever was suggested food-wise. Amazingly Melissa had a hard drive with all of the Harry Potter films on so we decided to get all of us on the sofas and watch the first one. We were all so glad of the popcorn maker because, with help from Aaliyah, we made a big tub of popcorn for everyone to share. After the film Captain Caveman collected in the full rain water receptacles, this was my first taste of drinking rain water which Captain Caveman seemed surprised by. I’d already cracked open a bottle of red wine during the film and the rainwater did taste a bit chalky and slightly sweeter than filtered water. Later he and Remy braved a walk through the flood water to collect some fresh water so that we had enough to keep us going for how ever long the storm and floods would last. The running water hadn’t been on and so another rule was implemented to not flush for wees but to use rain water for poos. Thankful for modern flushing toilets and running water I looked outside and saw a boat approaching us, across the flooded paddy field and car park. As the boat got nearer it was clear it was Ben, Bich and Chien who had come from Phong Nha Farmstay with provisions, meant to be for their kids! It was good to see them but rather scary when they described how the water levels were at the Farmstay and The Villas. Duyet came out, stood up, on a home-made raft and using a big metal pole as his oar – it was amazing.
By the time dinner was being discussed the options were 2 minute noodles, boiled eggs, soup or rice. Most of the kids went for noodles, Veronika, Melissa and Remy had chicken soup and the rest of us had veggie fried rice which I made while tipsy and with an eleven year old sous chef doing all the chopping. I felt it was a bit like camping and we were all getting on fine, when Uno (the card game) was suggested I was excited to join in – I’d not played it since a holiday to the Maldives and Sri Lanka with friends. The electric went off and we finished the game by emergency lights which made it feel later than it was. It went on a bit but in the end I won because a 10 year old didn’t say Uno when he had one card left but apparently he thought he’d still won. We all went to bed early, outside it was still raining and I commented how lucky we were to Captain Caveman.
If you have access to Facebook here’s a treat for you – while we were holed up in privileged conditions, check out Ben’s video of what was going on 2km away at Phong Nha Farmstay: