On Saturday 21st November it was Momma D’s 50th birthday and she was having a party at her rooftop bar from sunset that night. My breakfast was buttered toast and fruit with jasmine tea. I made some popcorn and took some with me in case I got peckish or needed something to line my stomach before the party. Phuong’s Transfers was booked to pick up Dong Hoi party guests and so Phuong had kindly arranged for me to have another driver take me to Dong Hoi for physio at 1pm.
Meanwhile Captain Caveman was on his second day of the Saigon Children’s Charity cycling event, attempting 137km of intense terrain on the most difficult day of the three.
My driver arrived early with clear instructions from Phuong as I needed to go to the ATM. The physio session went well and I was definitely improving while Kimmie, my visa agent, had made it easy for me by dropping off my passport with my new visa extension stamp in it. The driver was waiting for me and we left Dong Hoi at 5pm, ready to call to pick up Melissa, Remy and her 2 youngest kids. Captain Caveman was back, earlier and more exhausted than expected, but would manage the Phong Nha Farmstay BBQ which had been organised by Ben and Bich for all the event participants.
It was exactly 7 calendar months since I had last been to Momma D’s rooftop bar! The celebration at the end of the enforced 2 week lockdown in Vietnam, back in April, was what had lead me to drunkenly tear ligaments in my ankle and knee. So, while it had been marvellous to be able to go out and do as we pleased for the last 7 months, I had been doing it with extremely slow recovering injuries since that night! I was very apprehensive about my return and especially concerned about the stairs – the shiny two-toned, marble, slippery, no hand-railed stairs, to enter the Thuong Hai hotel. Melissa was there to help me (luckily) and for the first time I managed to get up more than 12 steps in one go. I was knackered and it hurt a little bit but I had managed it, the way down was more daunting. We got the lift to the 6th floor and the set of stairs to the rooftop were ok for me. Momma D had spent money on decorating the place, she had free frozen shots for everyone, free peanuts on the tables (which I was glad of as I was so hungry after physio). We were greeted by Momma D in a lovely black dress, while sporting a tiara and a wand! There was a roast beef dinner option available, with a glass of wine, for 220,000vnd (£7 ish) and I decided to limit my alcohol knowing I had to navigate stairs again. I had just started tucking in to my dinner when Phuong arrived with the guests from Dong Hoi, plus some Phong Nha outskirts people. The party got quite busy, there was a birthday chair for photo opportunities and 3 cakes! So we sang happy birthday, the blowing out of candles still went ahead (Corona had not yet banned people here from blowing on cakes) and then the birthday girl made a speech. There were lots of familiar faces, some who had travelled from Hanoi, Hoi An and Danang to wish Momma D a happy 50th. I did my best to get some photos, although my phone’s camera isn’t the best and the disco lights weren’t helping.
Melissa helped me on the stairs which was great because I wouldn’t have managed it successfully by myself and I had booked Phuong to take us back to our place. Back home Captain Caveman was in a bad way, he was exhausted and already in bed but was determined to carry on the next day, the final one of the cycling event.
Here is Ben’s video of the Saigon’s Children Charity cycling event, Day 2. While we were enjoying Momma D’s 50th birthday party I suspect there were a few cyclists reaching for the Sudocrem but feeling proud of their achievements so far!