We were awake early, in Hue, on Thursday 28th July and still had a lot to pack in to our morning. The Purple Hue Homestay bed had been super comfy and it had been a nice 1 night stay for us. After packing our bags, ready for check out later, at noon, we went out for breakfast. It was unbearably hot in Hue and the sun and UV were so strong. Captain Caveman had decided on The Nook Eatery, where he’d been before, and it was lovely. The waitress was friendly and really sweet, with good English, she even gave us a card with some key Vietnamese phrases on and asked us to say them with her. Captain Caveman ordered a bacon, egg and tomato muffin and I went for a full fry up. I had a pot of earl grey tea and a juice, Captain Caveman had coffee and also juice. The food was very good and we enjoyed our breakfast. I gave Captain Caveman my sausage as I was full and didn’t want to be having a reaction on the long journey back.
Our next stop was to a coffee shop which Captain Caveman had been to before for salted caramel coffee, called Tan cafe. As soon as we walked in I had an overwhelming urge to get out; it was hot, smokey and stuffy and the smell of coffee was overpowering. I sat down, ordered a lemon juice and Captain Caveman ordered his salted caramel coffee. He messaged friends Vu and Ngoc to meet up and then we had to move tables as I was too hot. On the next table I started coughing, constantly and I felt like I needed to leave. Captain Caveman was disappointed and couldn’t understand what was wrong with me but he called me a taxi and off I went back to the homestay. As soon as I got outside I stopped coughing and felt so much better. I hate cigarette smoke anyway, but because I’m not used to it, I was coughing a lot. The taxi dropped me off somewhere near the homestay but it wasn’t obvious where, so Captain Caveman had to direct me to it over the phone. He had a great time and more salted caramel coffees with Vu, Ngoc and their daughter at Tan cafe and was back to check out, just before noon.
Captain Caveman had decided we would go to a cafe near to the train station where we could have another drink and wait until our train at 1.50pm. We got a taxi from Purple Hue Homestay to Mémoire Café, which was really lovely. It was open air so the heat was still an issue but there were lots of fans and we sat in the shaded area. The staff had been trained to be super polite and professional and kept themselves busy. On display was a violin and a cute canary, who was singing away. I ordered a drink which was one of the most unusual but refreshing cold drinks I’ve ever had and I couldn’t even tell you what was in it while Captain Caveman chose what he thought would be a simple orange juice but it came in a fancy bottle. We also got served and were topped up with complimentary water as we sat there for over an hour.
We walked to the train station which was just a few minutes away and were drenched in sweat by the time we got to the very full waiting room, where there were no seats left. There were 2 massage chairs available but if you sat on them the alarm went off so we stood and waited. The train got delayed but, by 2.30pm, we were on our way to Dong Hoi in our soft seats.
Aside from the guy across from us playing his phone loudly, which is now standard behaviour, the train journey was bearable. I messaged Maya at the Phong Nha Farmstay to let her know we were on our way back and I sent her a copy of my new visa stamp, for my last 30 days in Vietnam.
When we arrived at Dong Hoi train station, it was the busiest I’d seen it for Western tourists, in a while. We even bumped in to Duyet who was herding tourists up the street and seemed very busy. Our Oxalis driver, Dung, was already waiting and I was glad it was him as I like his driving.
When we got home, I unpacked my bag while Captain Caveman got on with making a Carbonara. We didn’t have much in stock but tomorrow Captain Caveman had to go to Dong Hoi for a medical and would call at the supermarket. It was just gone 9pm when we opened our last bottle of Primitivo red wine and ate our delicious dinner. The last 6 days, celebrating Captain Caveman’s birthday and me getting in and out of Vietnam, had been great fun but now it was time to have fun in Phong Nha for a bit.