The Phong Nha clean up was well underway on Wednesday 21st October and I saw loads of Facebook photos which showed just how bad the muddy flood waters had been in people’s homes, and businesses. Yesterday Captain Caveman had been to help Ben and Bich with some clear up jobs and he headed off again to see if there was anything else he could help with. He sent me photos back and I was so amazed at the progress the staff and other helpers had made. Ben was like a Phong Nha reporter with his paddle cam style filming and it really let us, in our fortunate position, see how things were in the villages and town around Phong Nha.

Check out Ben’s two clips (episodes 3 & 4 out of 6) on Facebook to give you a really good glimpse of how high the flood water had been and imagine the cleaning up:

While I sat safely indoors imagining the clean up catastrophe out in various locations in Phong Nha and feeling slightly guilty that I wasn’t even helping, Veronika and I had managed to get invited on a lunch date. Co had invited us, via translating with Michael, to join him for some fried rice at the staff house and, because we had already turned down the offer of a beer the day before, we thought we should accept. We speculated that it may be a thank you for putting the neighbours up during the floods so we took some snacks and a bottle of sparkling wine. Captain Caveman made it back just in time and we all sat and watched Co cook, it smelled lovely and even though I’d had a significant amount of breakfast I knew I could always eat fried rice. Mr Ky, the dog, was there and Captain Caveman was able to pet him but because of being unsteady on my leg still, I didn’t. We had some really tasty pork with fried rice, we used Google translate to chat a bit with Co and Duyet. The food was really good and we left believing the reason we were invited was because they were worried we weren’t getting enough food! So now, not only were we the most privileged people in Phong Nha we had the staff feeling sorry for us and making us a meal – how embarrassing! We would find out much later that this was not the case but it was no less embarrassing.

When we got back next door the cleaners were in and I looked up how to apologise in Vietnamese for the mess of the place. When they had cleaned, Veronika was eager to take everything back downstairs, Captain Caveman moved some things but we were reluctant because another storm was due at the weekend so it seemed premature to move everything back just yet.
In Phong Nha town the electric came back on after 4 days of no power and we got word from friends that they were ok but just busy with tackling the clean ups. Of course we had been so fortunate to have the generator most of the time. Harry Potter 3 commenced, popcorn was made, 2 minute noodles were prepared and 4 of the 5 neighbours came to watch the film with us. Remy was out helping Ben and Bich with clean up stuff. When Harry Potter finished everyone left; the neighbours went back home, Veronika and the boys went to have dinner with Ben and Bich at the Farmstay and Captain Caveman decided to cook the last of the veggies we had with some beef that had been thawing out. We shared a bottle of wine and sat at the kitchen table to enjoy the wine, smell the delicious food cooking and appreciate a bit of quiet! We decided to eat 2 pieces each and chop the rest up for a stew – because the fridge freezer was on and off we didn’t want to risk keeping it any longer. The meal was lovely and the best meal we had eaten since Friday’s pizza night. We drank the rest of the wine and went to bed.

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