Tatas was still in bed when I got up on Wednesday 31st March and I had arranged to get a lift to The Villas at 8.30am so that I could meet Captain Caveman for Happy Hour later that afternoon. Tatas was driving her motorbike back and I left her getting ready while the car arrived with Annette, Sonya and Ania in. They were off to Phong Nha cave and Ben had suggested I go too but I didn’t think my leg was up to getting in and out of boats just yet.
As I was going to be spending all day at Victory Road Villas I ordered bacon, beans and oolong tea for my breakfast and got comfy in the work space area so I could do some ‘work’. Tatas had gone to meet her housemate for coffee at Tree House who hadn’t shown up so she came to The Villas for coffee and pho, I had a lime juice.
Before lunchtime Annette, Sonya and Ania arrived back from Phong Nha cave, all at differing intervals, in a sweaty mess after walking from the tourism centre to The Villas in blazing sunshine – I was so pleased I hadn’t joined them as I walk too slowly for it to have been ok to do. We all ordered lunch and then Keith and his friend, Tra, arrived who had cycled from Funny Monkeys, where they were staying.
Ali was also there having lunch and had all the info on what Captain Caveman had planned for the weekend in Saigon and proceeded to update me, in the hope that I would also be joining the trip. On the first night Ali and Captain Caveman had arranged to meet for dinner, on the second Captain Caveman was off to football with Scott, a friend of Keith’s, then he had an all day cycling event followed by beers the next day then back to Phong Nha for work. It was interesting to hear how I fitted in to all these plans, as well as the friends we had tentatively arranged to meet up with! It was going to be hectic but fun, I expected.
There were at least 3 of the group working on their laptops this lunchtime at The Villas and it was good to see the co-working space was taking off – how they could concentrate with me wittering on is anyone’s guess!
Lunch arrived; Ania had the zucchini ribbon salad, Annette the smoked duck salad, Sonya had a burger and I had the potato, artichoke and edamame salad. Keith gave me his football season ticket card, as even he knew that Captain Caveman was going to football on Friday night and he wouldn’t need it as he was staying in Phong Nha until Saturday. I ordered a cider and Keith had a beer, well it would be rude not too. Annette and Sonya decided to ask for a lift back to the Farmstay as they preferred to swim there but Tatas and I were happy with the privacy of the pool at The Villas. Ania had work to do, Ali was off back to Saigon this afternoon, Keith and Tra were off to see Phong Nha cave then would come back for happy hour and a half at The Villas. I got in the pool and managed quite a few lengths until I had to take up my job as photographer for Tatas in a rather lovely bikini from Mommy Shark.
I think I was in a bit of a mood because I was very much aware that it was my Dad’s birthday (a big one this year) and we were all meant to have been doing something to celebrate together, but he was in lockdown in Sheffield and I was in Phong Nha where the day would take an unexpected turn.
Captain Caveman was the first to arrive at The Villas for Happy Hour and a half, Tatas and I were already round the pool with a pre-happy hour drink of sangria for me and a margarita for her. At first we didn’t recognise the handsome, clean shaven fella approaching us as he’d nipped off to Onion’s for a haircut and shave on his way and was earlier than we expected. He wasn’t staying long as he had to get his pick up at 5.30pm for his gala dinner at Chay Lap with his group. He ordered a margarita and had a quick chat before Keith and Tra arrived back from their Phong Nha cave trip and Keith ordered a margarita on the 2 for 1 offer, as did Tatas, Captain Caveman and I. Unfortunately, the waitress bringing the drinks had some bad news; margaritas were no longer part of the happy hour deal and were only 2 for 1 on Margarita Mondays! This couldn’t be right, especially as it was still on the menu and I’d not been able to get to Margarita Monday for the last couple so I wasn’t aware of the new Happy Hour conditions. I messaged Ben as this was the worst news I’d had in ages, he rang me and he agreed to honour the deal, which was fortunate as we had already had a couple each. Ania, oblivious to a potential margarita-gate, finished work inside The Villas and went to the bar to order a Margarita but was told she couldn’t have one and so ordered a sangria. She came to join us outside to find out if they had ran out of tequila. Hamish arrived back from his Tu Lan trip and ordered a beer for him and his tour guide, Victor, Keith ordered a beer and Ania’s sangria arrived. We decided we would eat at The Villas tonight and, as Captain Caveman left for work, 3 more beers were requested by the others. Tatas and I ordered another Margarita which arrived but the beers didn’t, the waitress told us there were no more beers left, not even warm ones! Unfortunately this meant that Keith, Tra and Hamish would go elsewhere for another beer after their caving trips which had built up a thirst so it was decided everyone was going to Momma D’s and they set off walking. Tatas and I sat finishing our drinks wondering how it had all gone wrong so quickly, as we finished up and went to pay some beers had arrived.
I had to make a choice on what and where to eat for dinner and also be able to get home (safely) so that I could call my Dad to wish him a happy birthday. I really didn’t fancy going to Momma D’s because of the stairs and the propensity to get drunk and reinjure myself on the way out. I also dislike having to rely on other people to make sure I’m safe and can get down the stairs when the people I’m with could just turn out to be more reckless than me! Captain Caveman knew this and when I messaged to check if he would be able to pick me back up later he was a bit put out because he couldn’t definitely say that he would as it would depend on his customers requirements. It was 2 weeks off from being a year since my injury resulting in my double torn ligament disaster which would end up costing us a lot of pain, time and money! I was also extremely hungry and the options were limited so I agreed to go to join the others at Momma D’s. Tatas and I went together very slowly and when we arrived she helped me up the stairs, which I managed to get up pretty well. It was a dry night and I had sensible (grippy) shoes on so all was good.
Momma D was so pleased to see us all, we got a frozen Bellini shot each and a welcome lick from Kevin, the dog. Hamish and Tatas were straight on the shots but I was taking it steady. Captain Caveman called to say he was dropping off his customers and to be downstairs for a pick up in a few minutes but I’d not had any food yet so I had to tell him I couldn’t be ready and he should come to Momma D’s – he wasn’t happy and was worried we wouldn’t get home. Colin and Martin arrived, and joined us for drinks and a chat. I ordered gluten free pulled pork tacos and nachos for my dinner and I had a cheeky bite of the sausage rolls which the others had. Wow, the food was amazing and it took all my willpower not to eat all of the sausage rolls and order more. Tra had the chicken parmigiana which she seemed to give more to the dog than she ate, on account of him mastering the begging look. Keith had the mac and cheese for dinner but he was almost orgasmic over the cheese cake. Captain Caveman arrived, declined the shots but had a drink and told me to keep checking my messages for a reply from Ben about our lift back, especially as I’m not quick to get down the stairs. Tatas got absolutely wasted and the only non-drinker of the party, Tra, agreed to drive her home the few hundred metres while Keith jogged along to walk Tra back to Funny Monkeys.
As Captain Caveman had predicted there was some confusion over our lift home with Ben and getting Momma D to order us a taxi which I got the blame for and wasn’t too pleased about! I’d already paid the bill before we ordered a taxi and then another round of drinks because it would be a while, when Ben arrived to pick us up – Captain Caveman ran down the 7 floors of stairs, Momma D cancelled the taxi and I tried to go my fastest (which was too slow) with Ania helping me down the stairs. It was one of ‘those nights’, I had spent just over £60 (1.9m vnd) for the whole day and I was just glad to get home so that we could sing Happy Birthday to my Dad. When I finally got to call him, Captain Caveman had already got in to bed and he must’ve been confused over what day it was because it was Wine Wednesday not Naked Tuesday. Oh well, it’s not every day my Dad gets sung Happy Birthday to by a half naked duo in Vietnam – it wasn’t quite the memories we were hoping to give him on his special day!