My first job on Friday 8th July was to book myself on a trip to Laos for my next visa run. I had found an agent who did organised van/bus trips to the Vietnam-Laos border to be able to go out and in again with a new e-Visa. They were based in Danang and were doing at least one trip per week so I made enquiries, leading to a provisional booking for the end of the month. Captain Caveman’s train was running a bit late but he was on his way. I took a walk to Republic in the West Lake area of Hanoi and had a pot of earl grey tea. When I asked for some milk for it they brought me hot frothy milk which was a bit strange but I used it. Captain Caveman arrived and we had to leave straight away because he had arranged a lunch appointment with a friend.
I’d particularly wanted to visit Con Heo Beo (The Fat Pig) as I hadn’t been for so long. It’s primarily a pork restaurant, a short walk down the hill from Republic, and where we went when my parents were visiting a few years ago. When we arrived the place had been done up a tad and looked very nice, Captain Caveman’s friend was already sat at an upstairs table, we ordered beers and pork scratchings for starters. We listened intently to Mr B sharing tales of his life since he and Captain Caveman last met up, 15 years ago. We ordered a sharing platter over more interesting updates. I was just getting to find this guy entertaining when it was informed to me that Mr B and Captain Caveman had to leave as they had arranged to be somewhere else at 2pm. Captain Caveman gave me his rucksack, put a shortcut on my phone of how to get back to Euphoria apartments, through some back alleys, and sent me off. It was not quite the romantic ‘welcome back to Vietnam’ reunion I’d imagined but, honestly, it was not unexpected – Captain Caveman has form for this sort of thing.

Google maps told me it was a 3 minute walk through some alleys back to Euphoria apartments. I followed the map for about a minute then my map told me I was stood in the middle of a lake and stopped directing me. It was hot, humid, I was lost but I was definitely not in a lake. I decided to go right and when I saw some building works, which Captain Caveman had mentioned, I turned left thus ending up in a school playground. It was 2pm as Google directed me to walk through the school, which I did and was back on track.
I did some Turkish practice and lolled about back at the apartment for a bit. Captain Caveman had said he would meet me at the Moose and Roo at 5pm where I’d also rearranged to meet friends from our cancelled plans yesterday. I walked the 10 minutes to the pub and arrived at 5pm, just as Captain Caveman had got off a Grab motorbike. He hadn’t brought his friend so just the 2 of us went inside the Moose and Roo. Leonard made it and was doing well, I’d not seen him since before the pandemic, when he lived at Funny Monkeys, Phong Nha. We ordered some beers and the service wasn’t super quick so we weren’t going to be getting drunk. Leonard is a pensioner, and not too steady on his feet, so he just had the one beer. We happened to notice a guy we knew from a few years back, Declan, and he joined us for a drink too. We got talking to him about mates we had in common and had a bit of a laugh. Once Declan left, we decided to have some food and checked out the extensive menu. Leonard ordered the topped nachos, Captain Caveman and I shared a cheese board, both were nice but not the best ever.
We had another beer (or 2) then said our goodbyes to Leonard and stopped traffic to get him in to a taxi, back to his hotel, in the old quarter. As we were leaving I started petting a customer’s dog and we got talking to the owner, they knew Mark and Lesley from Phong Nha and were coming to Phong Nha soon, so we exchanged details on Facebook. They needed information on what to do in Phong Nha and would message us with questions. We set off walking home and decided to call for one at the 7 Bridges bar. We ended up staying a little longer than expected and even had more food. Captain Caveman had a slice of pizza and some onion rings, I had the most amazing mac and cheese with bacon in. We left when a big group got too noisy – they just happened to be British!
Captain Caveman and I had just one more full day in Hanoi tomorrow so he was going to make the most of it!

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