I had leftover pizza and 3 mangosteens for breakfast on Saturday 31st July, it was raining and so we had a lazy morning. Our friends Melissa, Rimaha and their 3 children who used to live at Elements Collection, in the villa opposite us, before moving to Hoi An had decided they were going to leave Vietnam and go to Turkey. The free visa extensions were still covering them as they arrived after March 2020 but they were getting worried it might stop and, understandably, didn’t want the visa worry every month. Going back home to New Zealand wasn’t an option for them as the Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ), although free of charge, could not accommodate the 5 of them for months yet – it is thought that there were approximately 100,000 Kiwis trying to get home and some were spending up to 16 hours per day trying to book their place in New Zealand’s compulsory hotel quarantine facility. Melissa and her family were planning to fly to Istanbul in August but unfortunately as of tonight they were stopping all domestic flights from Danang (their nearest airport). They also had a bit of an ordeal leaving; PCR tests to fly from Danang to Hanoi for all of them, they had 35 minutes to pack to make the last flight to Hanoi, and they had to use 2 private cars and change vehicles at the checkpoint with lots of bags. When they got to Danang airport Melissa recorded a live video which told of the struggles to leave Vietnam at this time and we watched feeling sorry for them, until the part where the family find that the airport Burger King was still open – and there wasn’t even a queue! Check out their Instagram stories here: https://instagram.com/worldtravelambitions?utm_medium=copy_link
Captain Caveman was out but came back with some eggs so he made tortilla, I had one piece of it, with salad, for lunch and then I was ill – it could have been a delayed reaction from gluten or dairy but I’m convinced my stomach can’t handle egg. We had more of Mina’s mangosteen which were certainly better than the supermarket ones and cost 110,000vnd (£3.52)for 3kg. In the afternoon I was peckish so Captain Caveman served me cashew nuts with a vodka and orange by the pool. For our evening meal I chopped mushrooms and red peppers and Captain Caveman made us a vegetarian pasta meal, which was tasty and I had no reaction to the normal pasta.
July had started with a few struggles in Phong Nha, proving that it’s certainly true that it’s not always perfect in paradise. My visa extension and passport issues had improved last and I actually got the passport back in the quickest time ever. All my plans to leave had been postponed for a bit longer as we tried to work out what was going to be our plan(s) for the rest of the year. I missed a few more celebrations in the UK as my home country returned to ‘normal’ for a lot of people, as did Turkey. Towards the end of the month Phong Nha saw the closing of more places and the stopping of transport links to other provinces. We even had to sacrifice yet more holidays and Captain Caveman was sad to see his cycling event moved to later in the year, due to Corona.
August was going to be my last month in Vietnam as the tourist visa extensions were definitely going to be denied soon, so I was preparing to go back to Turkey. I was also a little nervous of what the rest of the year would have in store and whether I’d be able to get back to the UK for a friend’s wedding – I couldn’t afford the hotel quarantine in the UK, nor would I have the time to do it, so it would be dependent on restrictions being lifted.