Thursday 9th June was not a relaxing day, we were off back to Phong Nha as Captain Caveman had to be at work for 6pm.
After finalising some packing, and Captain Caveman getting cross with me for not having sufficiently wrapped the Stilton cheese, we were ready to check out of Melia River View apartments. Our flight was in the afternoon so we still had time to meet up with another friend, Quyen, in District 1 of Saigon. We temporarily left our luggage at her place while we walked round to a nearby restaurant. As luck would have it I’d requested a Japanese restaurant and it couldn’t have been a better choice location wise. I ordered a peach tea drink and a pork dish, the other two had fishy stuff. We got brought some warm boiled gingko nuts which look like pistachios but taste more like a slightly off, cheesy chestnut.
The food was delicious and we had a nice catch up with Quyen, who’d I’d not seen for quite some time. After our meal we went to a cafe round the corner for a hot beverage and then it was sadly time to say bye to Saigon and Quyen. We were off to the airport for our 3.30pm flight to Dong Hoi, there was still no rain which was lucky.

At the airport Captain Caveman found some Ron Zacapa rum, which was a lovely surprise and he bought a bottle to take with us. By 3pm we were near the front of the queue to board the flight and I should have known it would happen. Captain Caveman got in a separate queue to me, so he didn’t have to speak or listen to me for the next half an hour while we waited to be let through the gate and on to the bus to the plane. He made out it was because 3 Vietnamese men had pushed in by starting a second queue but he was doing the same by becoming the 4th person in it.
We were lucky to not have anyone sitting on the aisle seat on our row so we spread out after take off, I had some dried mango and Captain Caveman had Pringles.
The flight was quick, slightly delayed but landed in Dong Hoi around 5pm. I left Captain Caveman getting our luggage while I went to the toilets, they had soap which only I used. I remembered a couple of years ago some Vietnamese women telling me they didn’t like to use soap as it makes their skin look older. The pandemic was obviously a thing of the past for hand washing with soap in toilets again, but of course everyone wore a mask over their mouth and nose. Captain Caveman had arranged an Oxalis car and driver to pick us up from Dong Hoi airport, drop me off and take him to work. He would cycle back after work, to where I would be staying for at least another 3 weeks.

When we arrived at Elements Collection, the villa where Captain Caveman has been staying since September 2020, he was pushed for time. He left the luggage downstairs, gave me his keys and got back in the car to go to the Oxalis office. Part of his job, as a cave expert on the Hang Son Doong tours, is to meet the guests at their briefing and dinner on the evening before their 4 day expedition.
I started to move the bags and looked for somewhere to unpack my stuff. I also took a jar of mystery contents from the freezer to defrost for my dinner.
Unfortunately, in the time that Captain Caveman had been away in Saigon, he had
forgotten to inform anyone at the villa or Phong Nha Farmstay that I was coming back. There were only half the pillows and towels in the room and the place was not looking like it was ready for me coming to stay. I was a bit miffed about this as I thought Captain Caveman would at least have moved all his winter clothes out of the wardrobe, or cleared me a drawer or shelf to use. The stuff I had left here back in September had been put in storage in the Glass House and were still over there. I put all my clothes back in my suitcase and got myself a can of cold Huda beer. The pulled pork that I had got out of the freezer still hadn’t quite defrosted 2 hours later and I was peckish. Instead, I had spaghetti with pesto mixed in – basic but tasty and it would do.
Captain Caveman cycled Bluey, my bicycle, back from Phong Nha so that I would be able to get about while he was away for the next few days. By 9.45pm he was back and we were having a Huda beer before an early night, as Captain Caveman had an early start tomorrow.

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