One good thing to come out of the recent  passport, visa, money, lack of tourism issues was that I hadn’t been drinking wine as much or eating as many treats. The last of my worries at the moment was whether I was thinner or fatter but none of my bras fit now and at least I would be able to get some new ones when I left. I didn’t have any breakfast as I started going through my clothes and working out what I was taking with me to Turkey and what I would leave here for if/when I could come back. Captain Caveman was in Phong Nha and had got the suitcases out at the Glass House so we could bring them over to pack when he could borrow a car. As is usual there is often an electrical item requiring transporting between countries and this time would be no different. I’d been away from Turkey for almost 18 months and from England for 3 years but I definitely needed to carry an electric BBQ hotplate back with me and, if I had time, I would buy a new phone and take a small rice cooker too.
I had 2 options for flights out of Vietnam that were the most suitable for me and I double checked all of the details, ready for Captain Caveman coming home so that we could book everything with his Vietnamese bank card.

These were my flight options:

Option 1 (the legal one)
•PCR test in Dong Hoi Tues 6/7 09:00
•Pick up PCR test result Wed 7/7 09:00
•Fly to Hanoi Wed 7/7 13:30
•Arrive in Hanoi 14:40
•Fly to Singapore 18:50
•Arrive in Singapore 23:25
•Fly to Istanbul 01:45 Thurs 8/7
•Arrive in Istanbul 07:45
•Fly to Dalaman 11:55
•Arrive in Dalaman 13:10
•Car to Dalyan to arrive at Fire Opal apartment by 14:00 on Thursday 8th July, the day before my visa expires!

Option 2 (the illegal overstay one)
•Fly to Hanoi Fri 9/7 13:30 or Sun 11/7 if that one cancels
•Arrive in Hanoi 14:40
•Stay in Hanoi for 4 days (or 2 days)
•PCR test in Hanoi Mon 11/7 09:00
•Pick up PCR test result Mon 11/7 17:00
•Fly to Singapore 12:35 Tues 12/7
•Arrive in Singapore 17:05
•Wait at airport for 8.5hrs
•Fly to Istanbul 01:45 Wed 14/7
•Arrive in Istanbul 07:45
•Fly to Dalaman 11:55
•Arrive in Dalaman 13:10
•Car to Dalyan to arrive at Fire Opal apartment by 14:00 on Wednesday 14th July, 5 days after my visa expires!

There were pros and cons of both options really but the main one being that if the flight from Dong Hoi to Hanoi cancelled on option 1 there was no wiggle room and I would miss my international flight. The downsides to option 2 was that I had to not catch Corona in Hanoi for 4 days and pay an unknown amount of overstay fine at the airport when I left.

Leaving Phong Nha sooner rather than later, seemed like a sensible approach at first so at 9.30am I was checking the logistics of the PCR test and researching the number of flights which didn’t get cancelled from Dong Hoi to Hanoi. If I did take Option 1, the legal one, there was a massive risk that the domestic flight would get cancelled and I wouldn’t have time to get to Hanoi by train for my international flight. Refunds were taking up to a month in some cases which then meant I would not have the money in the bank to book another flight and I would still be overstaying. I decided to go for option 2, to deliberately overstay and get my PCR test in Hanoi, which gave me much more time to get another flight or overnight train from Dong Hoi to Hanoi if needed. Everything was decided and Captain Caveman would be back from Phong Nha shortly so we could go ahead and book it.
At 10.22 I got a message to ask if I had booked my flights yet and when I said I hadn’t, I was told ‘do not book the ticket’! Immigration had agreed to take another look (maybe they had just got round to reading the memo) and would call back this afternoon. When Captain Caveman returned he was a bit surprised but we were both hopeful that it would be good news and I could stay a bit longer, at least until I could get my second jab and say goodbyes.
Captain Caveman made us bacon and asparagus for brunch, followed by mangosteen, as neither of us had eaten yet and we were going to treat ourselves to pizza night at The Villas tonight, taking my passport so that I could submit it if necessary. We saw that Eric the wasp had come for a visit but got himself in to difficulty trying to drink from the pool, Captain Caveman saved him and put him on the wall to recover.

By 6pm I had still not heard back about the visa situation which was disappointing because now the immigration office was closed until Monday morning and I still didn’t know what was going on. We were picked up by the Phong Nha Farmstay for pizza night and Captain Caveman had drawn out some extra money from his non-vietnamese account to tide us over a bit. When we got to The Villas, Captain Caveman asked if he could borrow the car to collect my suitcases so I could at least get packed. He knew I was stressed so he told me to order what I liked and off he went – I didn’t need telling twice and I ordered a glass of red wine. Tatas was already there so I sat opposite her at the end of the table, Veronika and the family sat at a different table as the long table outside didn’t have as many available seats tonight. Trang, Andrew and their son arrived and were getting their temperature checks as Momma D arrived with Kevin, the dog, then Hien and her daughter arrived shortly after. Even though we have not yet had any cases of Corona where we are it’s good to see that The Villas records all the temperature data of each customer, the tables are set according to the rules and it feels very safe. When Captain Caveman returned he ended up sitting at the other end of the table opposite Andrew and when the Funny Monkeys bunch arrived a bit later they sat on another table. At 7.40pm I was sent a message to say that our contact in immigration would be going in to the office tomorrow morning and a decision about whether I’m going or staying would be communicated to me before lunch. After all the toing and froing I was becoming indifferent about it but still sad that this could be my last all you can eat pizza night! I had 3 glasses of the quality red wine at The Villas and thoroughly enjoyed each one, the pizzas were as delicious as always. Back home we put the suitcases in the bedroom, wondering how soon I’d be checking them in!

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