I was so hungover on Tuesday 19th July but I made myself get up early with Captain Caveman. We had breakfast at The Villas together; I had a tasty Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and he had Bo Ne which had surprise tomatoes in, but he likes tomatoes.
Captain Caveman said goodbye and went to work, off back in to the cave again for 4 more days. I went to have an extra nap as we didn’t need to check out until noon. I’d hoped to catch up with friends while I was in Phong Nha town so I checked out and went to sit in the aircon at The Villas. I ordered a mango lassi instead of having any bottled water, it was really good.
I’d been trying to book a bus to Danang as there were no trains left for when we wanted them but the bus ticket lady was not replying. Lan told me it was because she was getting married today so the bus tickets were on hold while she did her nuptials. I stayed at The Villas for lunch and sampled the infamous Aussie meat pie with chips and gravy. It was actually even better than I remembered it being, the pastry was proper crusty and there was a generous and tasty filling. Some of my plans for later changed so I was still there for an afternoon ice-cream too and then, when I’d come round a bit, I had a cold beer.

After leaving Victory Road Villas, I walked to A Little Leaf homestay to meet Phuong. I’d not seen him since I’d been back and I’d promised to go see him and his newly improved homestay. A Little Leaf looked wonderful and was full of guests from all different nationalities and he even had a family with cute dogs staying there. He plied me with beers and food; fried pork spring rolls, Banh Loc and Banh Te so I got rather full. Banh Loc is a small, clear, chewy tapioca dumpling type of snack food. They are usually filled with shrimp and pork belly, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed to cook, then served with sweet chili fish sauce. Banh Te is a variety of small steamed snack made of rice flour, black pepper and herbs, then wrapped with Dong leaves into a long, thin cylindrical shape. Dong leaves are common here and are also said to be used by locals as antidote to drunkenness and snake bites. The food was delicious and had been made in Phuong’s village by his mother so I gave them a good go, while avoiding the chilli fish sauce. We video called his wife who is still working abroad and was about to do her 12 hour night shift. The beer kept on coming and Phuong insisted I had ice in my drink, which I try to avoid in Vietnam as most people use their hands to pick it up.
I was also meant to be meeting Chung at the Phong Nha Vegan restaurant but by this time I was drunk and Phuong had ordered me a taxi home. On the way down the tricky metal steps I asked Phuong to carry my bag so I didn’t fall and then we said goodbye. He invited Captain Caveman and I to come to his village with him when we had chance.
As I was going to the car, I saw Thu, the lady who used to work at Jungle Boss and is amazing! We had lots of hugs and were so happy to see each other again after all this time. I left with a female taxi driver (a novelty in Phong Nha) and Thu blowing kisses to me through the back window.
The taxi driver had no clue where she was going and we drove most of the way dangerously slowly on the highway with her phone in her right hand and very close to her face. I directed her in my best Vietnamese and we made it home at a cost of 200,000vnd (£7).
I unpacked my bag and put the laundry bag in for tomorrow’s housekeeping then went to bed for an early night.

Photo credit – A Little Leaf, Phuong.

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