Danang and Hoi An – 21st April

Danang and Hoi An – 21st April

Wednesday 21st April, as it fell this year, was an important day in Vietnam and is considered a holiday day. However with the risks of another wave of Corona there was likely to be more restrictions being put in place than usual. Read more info here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/ttnewsstyle/20210420/vietnamese-flock-to-festival-shrug-off-outbreak-risk/60474.html
Our last breakfast together was at Pho Thin again because we all enjoyed the pho there so much and it would be the last meal with Tatas. She had a pick up car coming at 11.30am to shuttle her to the bus to Phong Nha which should get her home for about 6pm that night. We all said how much of a good time we had coming to visit and we hoped to do it again as soon as we could all get dates that would allow it. I also decided I would get a Grab car at the same time as I had plans to go to Hoi An for a couple of days. When the car arrived, Tatas said her goodbyes and got in, only to find it was actually my car – I would have been so annoyed to have been sent back to Phong Nha instead of Tatas! I said farewell until the weekend and off I went to Hoi An to meet a friend for lunch.

I arrived at Veggie Hut in Hoi An at 12.15pm and ordered a pot of jasmine tea while I waited for Melissa and her family to arrive. I decided to have fresh spring rolls and some sweet potatoes, Aaliyah ordered the veggie moussaka with the intention of saving half for dinner and Melissa had the chocolate cherry cake. All the family were looking tanned and healthy and were enjoying living in Hoi An. They were our neighbours back at Elements Collection when they lived in Phong Nha (they even moved in with us during the floods in October 2020 for a couple of days) and they missed the Phong Nha Farmstay and all their friends there. When the food came mine was too spicy as it had something like kimchee in the rolls but Aaliyah ate all of her food because she really enjoyed it. Elijah and Rimaha shared a Snickers ice-cream dessert which looked really good. It was really good to see them and have a good chat about all the stuff they had been doing since moving here. The lunch meet up went quick and, because my Grab app no longer works, I asked for the staff to call me a taxi for my next appointment.

My taxi driver dropped me outside Citrus Spa in Hoi An where I had booked in for some waxing. I’d been to this salon before and knew they were good so had booked in for the works! I also fancied a bit of reflexology which I hoped to fit in at the end. I’d arranged to meet Caroline, who had kindly invited me to stay at her place in An Bang, Hoi An. When I came downstairs from having my waxing done, this time no need to bum shuffle, she was already in having a full body massage, which meant I had time for my foot massage. It was fantastic and I felt so relaxed after it that I could have had a snooze but there was not enough time. Caroline and I had a hug and paid our bills, I was surprised to get a big discount and paid less than 800,000vnd (£25) for everything.

Next we went to Hill Station in Hoi An for a cheeky prosecco and a selection of cheeses with some bread and gluten free crackers – it was delightful! After the Hill Station we decided to go to the wine shop to pick up a few bottles so we could go back to Caroline’s place and have a night in with the pets, who I was also looking forward to seeing, and a good natter. We got the prosecco open and had a really good chat, I was pleased I’d decided to stay at Caroline’s as we did have a good laugh and it was nice to just chill out and eat some gluten free crisps and salsa dip. We also reinvented beer koozies (insulated beer cooler holders) by fashioning them to fit our wine glasses so that we didn’t have to be philistines by putting ice in our wine!
My bedroom was really lovely and comfortable with an ensuite, balcony and a sliding door to the pool so I had a great sleep that night!

Danang & Hoi An – 20th April

Danang & Hoi An – 20th April

As Tatas was only here for a short time, we decided we should make the most of it on Tuesday 20th April and our friends had great recommendations for us. Captain Caveman had returned from Son Doong yesterday but gone back in today and I’d not had chance to speak to him before his next tour. Today the plan was to have a relaxing day at Hoi An Silk Beach Club with Tatas, who was also working while next to the pool. Transport is so much cheaper in Danang than in Phong Nha and was only 200,000vnd (£6.20) from Danang to Hoi An, about 45 minutes away. When we arrived we were the only people there and so we had the pool to ourselves. I was so hungover that I ordered a can of Fanta and some french fries for brunch and I’d forgotten my swimmers. As there was no one around I went swimming in my undies and was able to hoist myself out of the pool relatively ok, but not gracefully.

Once back at Bridges Danang Boutique Hotel we had a shower and change before we went off for a full body massage at Herbal Spa which Kendra had also recommended. The 90 minute aromatherapy full body massage was looking like the best deal for what I wanted and I asked them to concentrate more on my shoulders and feet and they also asked about injuries and pressure which was great as usually massages in Vietnam are brutally strong. There was a special offer on of 150,000vnd (£4.65) for 60 minutes or 240,000vnd (£7.44) for 90 minutes including hot stones if you wanted them (I opted for it without). It was very relaxing and so professional, one of the best massages I’ve ever had and we even got a cute outfit to wear to protect modesty – what a lovely treat!
After the massage we were given free soup, herbal tea and coconut crackers, which you could also buy and were gluten free. I was so relaxed that I felt like going back to the hotel to go to bed but we had plans for Tatas’ last night of her mini-break. I made a note to self that I definitely would be staying off the alcohol tonight though!

After the 3rd shower of the day at the hotel, we were off out for dinner. It was Tatas’ last night so she got to choose where she would like to eat. We arrived at The Nomad Kitchen in An Thuong and ordered some drinks while looking at the menu. It was a shame that I’d decided not to drink as they had some decent wine for a good price.
For my dinner I had the fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce for 110,000vnd (£3.40) and it was absolutely amazing. Tatas had a buffalo dinner, while the rest of the table had dishes which included a side order of buffalo, bacon croquettes, and falafel salad. The food was really good and Daniel, the chef, is incredibly skilled. When a couple of us ordered the white chocolate tart for dessert I asked if I could have an extra price of fish for my pudding instead, it was that good and even came with extra vinegar. I could only drink sparkling water as I was honestly begging for mercy, I needed to remember I am much older than all of these party animals! Tonight I remembered that the AC needs to be turned on again after taking out the key card and I settled down for a relatively early night about 11.30pm, while Tatas carried on her night at Oi bar, Emma’s and Shamerock. Tomorrow Tatas and I would be checking out of this lovely hotel but only she was off back to Phong Nha – I had more adventures planned!

Phong Nha to Danang – 19th April

Phong Nha to Danang – 19th April

My alarm went off at 4am on Monday 19th April as I was off on a holiday within a holiday. Tatas was already on the bus, which was delayed a bit and would drop her in Danang at 5.30am but I find bus travel uncomfortable and dangerous so I had opted to get the train. Phuong picked me up at 4.30am and we drove to Dong Hoi train station. We were early for my 5.42am train and as we all waited in the station, masked up, it became delayed by 30 minutes. I was booked in to Coach 2 on a soft seat which was half the price of a bed and surprisingly comfy. I had 2 seats to myself until we got to Hue and managed to nod off to sleep a little bit.

I finally arrived an hour late in to Danang at 12.30 and my driver was waiting for me, carrying a board with my name on. On arrival at Bridges Danang Boutique Hotel, in the Son Tra area of Danang, I was very pleasantly surprised. Even though I had booked a cosy double, it was still really good and not as small as I expected. The room had an industrial look with a picture of a bridge – Captain Caveman would love it.

I’d not eaten anything at all yet so I was starving and luckily Hamish and Ania were ready to take Tatas and I to a really good pho restaurant, a short Grab ride away. Pho Thin has great pho bo and was so tasty and filling, it’s a well known eatery here in Danang and also there is one in Hanoi.
After breakfast/lunch the 4 of us went to a bar called Section 30 in the An Thuong area of Danang to meet Kendra and a few of her friends who were all using the co-working space upstairs. We tried the cherry beer which was a bit too nice but I didn’t want to drink too much of it before my rather important appointment at 3.30pm.

It had been 1 year, 3 months, 1 week and 1 day since my last hairdresser’s visit so I was off to Ly’s Salon for a 3.30pm hair appointment – I was so excited! Kendra had recommended this place and so I had booked for the full cut, colour, head massage and styling. Ania and Kendra were coming at 5pm and Tatas decided to come with me for a bit of pampering. We walked it using Google maps, which neither of us are good with, and ended up having to walk across a building site and then still got the wrong place as they had moved. The place was small but professional looking and they had lots of activity. It felt so good to be finally getting a hair colour and then a good cut, but still keeping it long. The head massage was done in a separate room in the dark and it was absolutely amazing. Kendra and Ania came after work, Kendra treated us to a bottle of bubbles to drink while we were getting our new hairdos and it felt like being in a salon back in the western world, it was that good.

Once we’d finished it was time to go for a cheeky drink with the lads and Hamish had promised Tatas and I that he would take us to one of his favourite spots for a good value steak dinner. There was a group of us for dinner at Vertigo in An Thuong, Danang and, of course, it involved lots of wine, Hamish even got everyone a Jaeger shot before the food! Most of us ordered the steak because Hamish had recommended it and had suggested it could be the best in town so we were very much looking forward to it. A random stranger arrived and apologised for being late as he thought he was going to be joining us but it turned out he was meeting the bloke behind us but we all had a good laugh at that. My steak was perfectly cooked, very tasty and did not disappoint – I was impressed because the bar we were eating was nothing fancy.

After too much red wine we paid up and decided to head to Oi bar where we sat outside and had more drinks and the Tequila shots were on the go! They ran out of salt and lime at one stage and we had to improvise before apparently going to a bar called Emma’s, for some reason I don’t remember being at the bar although I do recall buying some pork and mushroom steamed buns and eating those, plus insisting every one try them. My stomach was fine and I even managed a drunken visit to ‘Shamerock’ where we got to dance the night away to some cool tunes, as Des became the DJ. I even met the owners and tried to get a few of the regulars to have a dance with us. It was such a great night and when we eventually got back to the hotel we had to ring the door bell to be let in – I was so chuffed with this! I wasn’t so pleased when I woke up, fully clothed at 4am, lights on and no Aircon feeling ever so parched! I can definitely say the first day of my holiday within a holiday was a huge success and Tatas had really enjoyed herself too. Hamish and Ania were the perfect hosts and their friends were welcoming and good fun.

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of April

Phong Nha – the 3rd weekend of April

The tannoy was back up to loud for the weekend at 5.30am on Friday 16th April. Captain Caveman was off to his next Son Doong tour and Tatas had confirmed she was going to be able to go to Danang on Sunday after her Tu Lan trip and was getting the overnight bus, we also agreed to meet up at The Villas for pizza night later, today she was off to lunch and karaoke with her customers.
Bich helped me out by asking Duyet to get me some eye drops for my irritated eye, he came over to check my eye and what kind of eye-drops I needed, which was nice. I ate peanut M&Ms for breakfast, gluten free quinoa crackers and an apple for lunch then started watching Series 2 of Love Island on Netflix. I snacked on dragon fruit and then made mushroom and egg fried rice for dinner because the oven had broken at The Villas so pizza night was cancelled, which also meant I didn’t meet Tatas there either.

I decided to cycle to the Farmstay on Saturday 17th April for breakfast of pho bo, soda water and a green tea. Bluey had to have her tyres pumped up but she made the ride there in 8 minutes 37 seconds, which wasn’t bad. I stayed at the Farmstay for a lunch of fresh spring rolls with pork and prawn and a ginger beer, beside the pool which was nice. My journey back was just 8 minutes 31 seconds and it was very hot and sticky! Later, I opened a bottle of wine and had a couple of glasses then some sourdough with laughing cow cheese-spread, which made me sick again – it was definitely Gluten and/or dairy! I had an early night watching Love Island, hoping the gluten intolerance would go away.

My stomach problem was back with a vengeance at 4am on Sunday 18th April and I felt terrible. By breakfast time I forced dragon fruit, water and jasmine tea in then rested a lot. By lunch time I had been really ill and hoped by eating gluten free quinoa crackers I might recover. I finished off Love Island and did some writing but the furthest I ventured was on the balcony to admire the views.
I saw the Corona stats were not looking good for Turkey as the number of cases rose to just 173,000 less than the UK and the deaths were 92,000 less, but they were catching up fast and with less progress on vaccines so far.
By dinner time I was feeling better so I ate a masaman curry which I added a couple of carrots, a potato and a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter to before packing for my ‘holiday within a holiday’ . Tatas messaged me to say she had already left Phong Nha on the bus, 30 minutes earlier than planned, which would arrive in Danang at around 3am. I would join her tomorrow for a bit of an adventure!