Monday 1st March started off as quite an ordinary day for me, here in Phong Nha.
I’d decided that March was going to be a good month to get a bit fitter and healthier but I still had carrot cake in the fridge from last night so I had buttered toast for breakfast with a pot of jasmine tea before eating the cake as my lunch! It was quite warm out and felt very muggy but I didn’t let it put me off going for a ride on Bluey. I cycled to the French Road and back, which took just 9 minutes 44 seconds and, when I got home, I made popcorn.
Captain Caveman came back from Son Doong and was off to his usual gala dinner at Chay Lap at 5.30pm so he suggested I meet him at The Villas. It was Margarita Monday and I arrived first, Captain Caveman arrived shortly after me and we ordered a couple of margaritas. Matty arrived next and Captain Caveman had to leave before Tatas arrived, Matty and I had another margarita and a pizza each – he had a prosciutto and tomato one, I had salami, mushroom and pineapple. Captain Caveman sent me a few messages to say he was drinking rice wine with his customers, that he was on his way back to The Villas, that he was late, and that he was just setting off but never arrived so I took a lift back home with Matty and Bich.
I didn’t know it at the time but we probably drove past Captain Caveman who was drinking with his colleagues at a cafe that used to be Yummy’s. For once I was the sensible one and didn’t have that many margaritas compared to last week.

Captain Caveman was extremely hungover on Tuesday 2nd March and didn’t remember much of the previous night. He had to sort himself out, though, as he had his next briefing tonight and was back in to Son Doong tomorrow. I made him cheese on toast, I had jam on toast and I ordered myself a shepherd’s pie for tonight. The weather wasn’t great either so I didn’t do any cycling. I booked a bus ticket for Captain Caveman to go to Hanoi in a couple of week’s time as he was off to see our friends, Phil and Hoa in the north for a week. In Saigon they ended lockdown restrictions and in Hanoi they reopened restaurants and bars.
I got peckish in the afternoon as I’d had no lunch but didn’t want to spoil my shepherd’s pie eating abilities so I had a date, some walnuts and a rice cracker. Captain Caveman set off early to his briefing so that he could pick up his bus ticket, on the way back he picked up three loaves of bread from the Lake House and he got back in time to join us for shepherd’s pie, after all. Bich had also got Veronika and I two sourdough loaves of bread and so now, Captain Caveman was about to be away for most of the month and I had 5 loaves of bread.
I restricted myself to just one glass of wine with my shepherd’s pie while dining with Captain Caveman, Veronika and Matty – I even took home some left over pie and veg to have tomorrow.

Captain Caveman went off to his next Son Doong tour on Wednesday 3rd March so we were both up early as I also had some work to do. As the ‘being frugal with the housekeeping’ mission seemed to be working well and Captain Caveman was impressed that I was trying to save money, I decided that each time he was in the cave I would do the challenge and see how I did, even though this time he left me 2 million Dong (£62)! The idea behind it being that we had more to spend on my monthly visa extensions, trips away and to keep living somewhere with a pool so that as it got warmer I could afford to replace my very old swimwear and get fitter by swimming.
I was downstairs slicing bread, all 5 loaves, and boxing them up for the fridge or freezer when Veronika came downstairs, dressed for winter and a bit hurried. She had decided she was going to ride her motorbike to Dong Hoi with Ben and told me not to worry if she didn’t come home as she may stay over. I had a very quiet day working through my To Do list and managed to polish off most of the crusts from the bread, the leftover shepherd’s pie, 3 satsumas and a small chocolate bar (bought for us as a Tet gift from Ai, landlady of the Glass House).
Instead of going out on Bluey in the rain I did my exercises and then started watching Amazing Hotels on Netflix. For dinner I had hummus and rice crackers and a couple of small glasses of wine while watching the TV

I woke up at 7am on Thursday 4th March, I had toast for breakfast and decided to take myself out for a ride on Bluey to incorporate lunch out at the Farmstay. I cycled the short way there in 9 minutes 43 seconds but it wasn’t a pleasant journey because there was quite a lot of mud on the road. I ordered a ginger beer and some fresh pork and prawn spring rolls for lunch and had a good chat and a laugh with Bich. I only spent 130,000vnd (about £4) and would be eating at home later. I chilled out a bit and contacted Mommy Shark in Hoi An to enquire about swimwear in western sizes as I was desperate for new swimmers. On the cycle back I decided to do the longer route, along the French Road, by the river and it took me 21 minutes and 37 seconds. I was knackered when I got in and had to have a little rest while watching more Amazing Hotels. That evening I had chicken in a tomato and olive sauce with green beans and steamed rice, washed down with a glass of wine. A friend who had also watched Amazing Hotels had commented how nice Brando’s in French Polynesia was – it reminded me of Le Domaine in Tam Hai during it’s early years, a lovely place. The housekeeping staff arrived to clean the balconies and windows and brought some lovely flowers and I had an early night – I even set my alarm to get up for cycling.

Photo credit – Bich, Phong Nha Farmstay

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