From Hoi An to Tam Hai – 20th July

From Hoi An to Tam Hai – 20th July

I woke up at Beachside Boutique Resort Hotel in Hoi An with a bit of a hangover on Monday 20th July. Luckily they have the free water refills in a funky tin bottle which keeps the water nice and cold. It also has the branding on for the pub across the street which is where meals are served so we went across for breakfast. Again we had a bit of an issue with stairs because the staff said we had to go upstairs to the restaurant area but there were tables on the ground floor so I sat there and sent Captain Caveman upstairs to suss out breakfast options. While he was gone a pregnant waitress came over to tell me I needed to go upstairs but I pointed out I was on crutches and would rather sit at the table I was at (downstairs and right next to the kitchen). Captain Caveman came back and said we had to order from the menu which was very much gluten and egg heavy so I went for the My Quang with a tea. It was ok but it had a lot of scrambled egg and tomato in which I picked out – the rest of the dish was tasty.
Still feeling a bit fragile I went back to the room to try to cool down and get rid of my fuzzy head while Captain Caveman started his book and had a swim. The hotel was very busy and the pool was full and not particularly easy for me to navigate with my bad leg so I left Captain Caveman to it.
We checked out at noon and then sat in reception to wait for our car to Tam Ky at 1pm.

The driver, Hung, arrived early and off we went to our next mode of transport which would prove a bit of a test. When we got to the speedboat Bien was waiting for us with a surprised look on his face, at me crutching towards the boat. There was a car ferry next to him so he indicated for us to walk on to that and then climb over the side to get on to his speedboat. It took a while, with all the locals watching, I didn’t want Captain Caveman to hurt himself trying to pick me up but in the end he had to shove my bum up over the railing. Once on the boat I was fine and when we pulled up at Le Domaine Tam Hai C was there to greet us. Captain Caveman got off on to the beach but C told Bien to take me down towards the jetty at the other end as we were staying in Villa 1, next to the bar and reception area.
I got off ok but was a bit nervous crutching on the wooden jetty – this was going to be our second visit to Le Domaine Tam Hai but my first as a cripple. I found that the short walk to the seating area fairly straight forward and the gin and lemon juice drink went down a little too well. We’d not even checked in when we were ordering a bottle of wine! C introduced us to Fat Dave who was a bit shy at first but was friendly enough once he got used to us. She also is trained in reflexology so gave me a bit of a session where it alleviated some of my pains and stiffness. We ate a delicious meal looking out over the water; Captain Caveman was eager to snaffle away his fish and chips while I enjoyed my pork ribs with rice and veg. It was just so nice to be back on the island at this amazing resort, just relaxing and chatting to C and Fat Dave.

Danang and Hoi An – 19th July

Danang and Hoi An – 19th July

We were up and ready for our private car trip south on Sunday 19th July so we could celebrate Captain Caveman’s birthday once more.
The car was comfy and I think I may have had a snooze on the way down to our Sunday brunch at Citron restaurant at the Intercontinental in Danang. My leg was definitely getting better as on the way we had to stop for a toilet break (in a desolated petrol station with a barking dog in the gents) and I managed a pee in a squat toilet without spillage, touching the walls or injury!
As we neared the venue I managed to do a quick change (in the car) in to a dress so that I looked a bit more appropriate. When we arrived, after a 6 hour journey, the driver dropped us right outside the door to the restaurant entrance and so it was a shorter walk to our table. The staff remembered us from previous visits and seated us in the almost empty restaurant in a perfect spot, nearest to the entrance to the buffet. We got a glass of champagne each and some water and then Captain Caveman was in charge of both our food selections. We’d already formulated a plan and he knew what I liked so off he went, starting on the seafood section.

I had 9 prawns, he had sushi and oysters as we got top ups of the champagne and had a martini shaken for us. While I moved on to chicken skewers with potatoes, Captain Caveman had more fishy stuff and we had a cosmopolitan, more champagne and then moved on to beef skewers. We had a gin fizz and more champagne, then we ordered steak and Captain Caveman did well with his choices for the cheese board. We had more champagne before going on to red wine with our next dishes and I managed to squeeze in gammon, mushrooms and sweetcorn. I was so stuffed I could hardly move and I was definitely a little bit tiddly. The live band surprised Captain Caveman with a rendition of Happy Birthday and some dessert was presented to him while he looked embarrassed.

On the way to check in to Beachside Boutique Resort Hotel in Hoi An I had a snooze in the car. When we arrived I realised we hadn’t told the hotel when we booked it that I was on crutches and unfortunately we got a room on the 2nd floor and without a lift or a bath. Well, getting to the room sobered me up and I needed a lay down when I eventually made it.

That evening Captain Caveman was keen to try out the craft beers at Bia Oi, the new bar where Seamouse is now working as the manager. They didn’t have any alcohol without gluten so I just had water and then later on we had some of the tasty snacks from the menu; edamame beans, boiled peanuts, chicken liver skewers, belly pork skewers, sausage, & sweet potato fries. The food was incredible and the yakitori skewers were so tasty. Seamouse joined us and it was good to see him settled in to the new bar at An Bang beach. They even had good live music on and the massive table of Vietnamese blokes next to us were friendly and well behaved. I’d definitely go again and we said we might call in on the way back if we had time but next we were off to see our mate, C.

Edit – the Intercontinental has announced it will be closed between 27th July and 10th August following guidelines from the Health Ministry during the pandemic.

20 things I would do if I was in Dalyan

20 things I would do if I was in Dalyan

I left Dalyan in January to come to Vietnam for 3 months and, due to the pandemic, I am still here with no idea when I will be able to travel back to Turkey.
So, as I do love a list, I thought I’d remind myself (and you) of what the first things I will be doing when I get back to visit Dalyan (assuming it’s safe to do so). They are in no particular order:

1. Get in the pool so that I can exercise my injured leg after the lengthy flight(s).

2. Book some boat trips in.

3. Take a trip to Mimi’s for a pampering pedicure.

4. Get myself a good scrub in the hamam at BC Spa followed by a full body massage.

5. Spend a day at the mudbaths.

6. Have Emrah sort my unruly hair out with a cut, colour and curls at the hairdresser’s.

7. Order my gluten free bread and cake from Bakery No.10.

8. Volunteer at the Dog Shelter a couple of days a week.

9. Get my name down on the Riverbums volunteer list to help with clean ups each week.

10. Take a walk along the river and take in the views.

11. Drink a Turkish tea at the Tea Garden and admire the views of the tombs.

12. Go to Iztuzu beach and have a dip in the sea.

13. Return to all my old favourite bars, cafes and restaurants.

14. Find out what’s new and try out some places to eat and drink.

15. See all my Dalyan friends again after too many months away!

16. Have a trip to the local supermarkets to stock up on essentials.

17. Take the rowing boat over to the other side of the river and have a walk to Kaunos.

18. Relax in the comfort of the apartment, maybe with a nice bottle of Turkish wine.

19. Treat myself to a new item of clothing or maybe have some shoes made.

20. Visit the market for fresh fruit, veg and some Turkish delight.

26 things I googled in the 2nd half of July

26 things I googled in the 2nd half of July

For those of you who love a list here are all the things I googled, in alphabetical order:

1. Ankle ligament tear causing toe stiffness
2. Ankle strengthening exercises
3. Baolau
4. Beachside Boutique hotel, Hoi An
5. Benefits of a weighted blanket
6. Dani Dyer
7. Da Nang
8. Does cheddar go with Chardonnay?
9. English – Turkish translation
10. English – Vietnamese translation
11. Gastropulgite directions
12. Hyperactive
13. Intercontinental Danang
14. Jack Fincham
15. Koh Tao murders
16. Macklemore
17. Momma D’s rooftop lounge
18. Oyster sauce
19. Physio appointments in the UK
20. Reflexology chart
21. Snopes
22. Ugly Betty
23. Urine smells for diabetes
24. Vinpearl, Dong Hoi
25. Weather
26. World Life Expectancy



Phong Nha – 18th July

Phong Nha – 18th July

Captain Caveman’s birthday fell on Saturday 18th July and our plans to go to Hanoi were cancelled. My passport, with my newly extended 3 month visa stamp, was in Hanoi and so I couldn’t fly which meant our chosen transport would be the overnight train. There were issues with that; Captain Caveman wouldn’t be able to lift me on to the train which has quite high steps, I wasn’t sure I could get myself on to the train and neither of us could carry bags very well. We were disappointed as we were planning to meet up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while and to eat some Mexican food! We had to be sensible though, both being injured, so we decided to go for breakfast at The Villas and contemplate a plan B for Captain Caveman’s week off.
We had hired a motorbike but it only had one helmet with it so Captain Caveman loaned me his caving helmet which I looked a right bobby dazzler in! Captain Caveman had to also clear the neighbour’s kid’s marbles from the doorstep so that I could get out without going flying on them and then we were on our way. I had my usual pho ga which I really enjoy at The Villas as the quality of the chicken is great and I can have it without chillies. Captain Caveman had smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and toast for his birthday breakfast with a few espressos. While we were there we bumped in to one of the expats who asked if he could join us and we got chatting about our plans being cancelled and that we might decide to take a car somewhere closer. He gave us some good tips of places to eat where we had not been before that we could try. We had also hoped to go for a break in Tam Hai and we probably could still make it there. While we were chatting I had another jasmine tea which called for a second breakfast of flourless chocolate mousse cake – the best (and only) gluten free dessert option in Phong Nha. Back home, armed with more ideas, we contemplated our options and decided we would book a private car and head south.

Last year for his birthday Captain Caveman had held a BBQ at Phong Nha River House but this year it was going to be very low key, given we were both not 100% healthy and on medication. We managed to have a happy hour cocktail at The Villas on our way to Namaste for a birthday curry, which was excellent (as always). On the way home we stopped back off at The Villas so we could have a cheeky red wine with Tatas. Back home our friend and colleague of Captain Caveman’s came to see us with a gift of fruit – she hadn’t seen me for a while because of me being in Dong Hoi so much so it was nice to see her.
We had to set the alarm for 5am so that we could be ready for our trip away the next day – it was going to be exciting!

Photo credit Captain Caveman

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 17th July

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 17th July

I tried to get a morning physio appointment for Friday 17th July so that I could get back to Phong Nha sooner and see Captain Caveman when he got back from his caving trip. We had planned to go to Hanoi at the weekend and as yet had not booked anything in so it would be handy to have the afternoon to do that before he went to his gala dinner at Chay Lap. Thuy couldn’t accommodate me for a morning appointment and so I had to have a 3pm one.
I had a breakfast at the Nam Long Plus again; a half bowl of pho bo, orange juice, tea, fruit salad and then a banana and some water to try to keep hydrated. For lunch I was tucking in to a chicken salad from Tree Hugger, which came with peanuts, when I got a call from Captain Caveman’s manager. She had been notified he was on his way out of Son Doong and was in severe pain. In all the years Captain Caveman has been doing this job I’d never had one of these calls and it was very worrying. She kept me updated and then Captain Caveman got in touch to say he was on his way to hospital, he didn’t know what was wrong and that the pain had occurred as he had started to climb up the Great Wall of Vietnam which is the exit route from Hang Son Doong. By this time I was due at physio and wasn’t sure whether to head to the hospital or not but I know he hates fuss and so I decided to carry on with my plan until I knew more – he had a guide with him who could translate and update me if I was needed.
At physio I had 2 therapists over the 2 hours I was there and my leg seemed to be feeling a bit less painful but still not strong enough and this was my last session before my trip away. They advised I shouldn’t take the break of the week off and that I should keep having the physio 6 days per week. They weren’t really sure how much longer it would take but another month or two was mentioned!
While I was being mauled I got an update that Captain Caveman was going to be ok but he had somehow managed to break a rib without noticing. He was told to rest up for a few days and that he should be ok, so he was already on his way back home.
I shared the car to Phong Nha with the Triple Cripple Club members and on the way back Captain Caveman called to let me know he was off to meet some of the people from his tour at the floating restaurant and he would meet me at The Villas for dinner. My fellow diners both ordered pizza and I had the confit duck leg but I did have a piece of Caroline’s pizza (because I had taken the medicine) to see what would happen. Back home I bum shuffled up the stairs in the semi darkness and was definitely getting quicker but it was hard work and the floor was very dusty on account of us not having the cleaner in today!

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 3rd week of July

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 3rd week of July

After such an amazing and relaxing weekend it would be difficult to follow it up with another exciting day, but on Monday 13th July we tried our best! After a breakfast at Phong Nha Farmstay and making use of the private pool one last time, we met Veronika for lunch. I had fried spring rolls this time and we also managed to get ourselves a great selection of wine to take home. One of our favourites, Santa Digna, was there so we got all the remaining bottles of that! Captain Caveman had organised the return car to take me to Dong Hoi for physio and back so that we could meet up for dinner in Phong Nha later.

At physio the old lady who is usually there was chatting on to me in Vietnamese and I had no clue what she was saying, so I took a photo of us. The Triple Cripple Club were in full attendance, all was well and on the way back to Phong Nha it started to rain quite heavily so I got dropped off at Namaste – the floor outside was super slippery but I managed to get to the door without any help and then Raj came over when he saw me. Captain Caveman and I had arranged to meet friends for a curry, Keith was back in Phong Nha and so we said we would meet there at 6.15pm. The food was so good that I forgot to take any decent photos and, as some of the others went out after to Momma D’s, I booked Phuong to drive me home while Captain Caveman cycled.
All in all not a bad Monday and the first time in a while that I’d been home!

Captain Caveman was off on his next trip to Son Doong on Tuesday 14th July but that meant we still had time for a breakfast at The Villas to celebrate their 3rd birthday. This day also marked 6 months since I left Istanbul and flew to Hanoi. I was very happy to be in Vietnam and was awaiting my visa being extended for another 3 months – sadly it didn’t look likely that I would get to visit family and friends in England and Turkey for quite some time.
Captain Caveman and I went by motorbike to The Villas and, although a bit awkward with my leg, I did manage to get there with only being slightly uncomfortable. This was another first for me and I was pleased to be a bit more mobile, even though I couldn’t have gone much further than a couple of kilometres. On arrival at The Villas they were having all day happy hour to celebrate but I resisted and took my medication instead (one of which looked like a Bailey’s). Captain Caveman had eggs benedict with smoked salmon while I stuck to the pho ga for breakfast. It was a lovely breakfast and the staff looked after me because I still struggle to open and close the heavy glass doors while crutching about. Back home I said bye to Captain Caveman and achieved another first since my injury – I managed to collect the washing in from the balcony and pack it back in to my bag.

Today I was off back to Dong Hoi but was sharing the cost of the car with the other members of the Triple Cripple Club. The car was already on another job and was running late so to make it easier for us to leave as soon as the car came I walked to Mountain Bar with my backpack and bum bag on (another first)! It’s not that far but by this time it was blisteringly hot and the walk was hard work for me, especially standing for any length of time. By the time we got to Dong Hoi the others had to go straight to their appointments so I asked the driver to drop me at Nam Long Plus hotel. I just had time to order some lunch from Tree Hugger, drop my bag off and have a bit of a rest before taking a taxi to my physio appointment. Physio was different today as at the end of my session we spent 10 minutes doing more exercises than normal and I had to play football with my bad leg. Although I managed the activity I did hurt my good foot which resulted in an injury to my 2 smallest toes.
Back at the Nam Long Plus hotel I had a nice bath then I looked in the mirror and saw I was sunburnt. I had a rest, watched Netflix and did some writing before falling asleep, exhausted!!!

Wednesday 15th July was the day my current visa expired and I was hoping to hear my next 3 month visa extension had been granted. My physio appointment was in the morning this time which I do prefer as then I still have the rest of the day to do stuff.
By midday I was tucking in to a Tree Hugger lunch and enjoying my ‘cure for gluten intolerance’ medication (I won’t go into to details but to say the Gastropulgite was doing its job was an understatement)! I enjoyed very much the cheeseburger, a fruit salad, peach tea and a complimentary apple.
In the afternoon I was meant to be going back to Phong Nha but I changed my mind and instead I started watching Bloodline on Netflix. Unfortunately there was a big downpour, the WiFi went off and I had trouble being able to do my Turkish lessons.
I had 7th Heaven delivery for dinner, which was delicious and just enjoyed having a chilled evening.

I had left overs for breakfast on Thursday 16th July, I did some Turkish, watched more of Bloodline (which I was getting in to) then ordered lunch from Tree Hugger. The WiFi was still patchy and the staff at the hotel were having problems fixing it.
Keith from Grimsby was going to be in Dong Hoi that night and so we arranged to meet for dinner. When I arrived at physio the other two thirds of the club members were already in session. My stint went ok, the ankle swelling was reducing and I was needing less ice on it. There was not much change to the knee apart from there was no pain when it was still now.
Back at the hotel I had a bubble bath before meeting Keith and going to 7th Heaven for a night out. We shared a bottle of red wine, he had chilli con carne and pancakes for dessert while I went for the steak with sweet potato fries. It was a good night and as usual the food was really tasty – one of my favourite places to eat dinner in Dong Hoi.
Back at the hotel Keith had a beer, we agreed to meet for breakfast and I was so tired that I went to my room and straight to bed.

Photo/video credit – Captain Caveman and Caroline Borrow

Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of July

Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of July

It was 3am on Friday 10th July when I woke up with a fast-pacing heart and feeling super alert. The medication I had taken was having a bit of a reaction and I was feeling slightly panicky. I made use of the bad situation when I knew I was beyond relaxing and got on and did several Turkish lessons and lots of blog writing which I was lagging behind on. I had the usual Nam Long Plus hotel breakfast of pho and they also gave me homemade yoghurt and banana this time.
My leg, despite the drugs, was still feeling a bit of pain and so I did a few exercises to try to help – I was definitely getting more flexible but I was worried the tablets were too strong.
For lunch I ordered beef and veg rice plate, fried veggie spring rolls and peach tea from Tree Hugger and I am now a massive fan of iced peach tea. I saved half of my lunch for my dinner. Physio was interesting, the heat treatment had started to feel nice and relaxing for a change and after 15 minutes the therapist had to come and get me as I was almost asleep. Thuy told me I had taken the medicine in the wrong order and that instead of having all 4 things after a meal I should have taken omeparazole on an empty stomach, half an hour before eating. The Gastropulgite I was also meant to have before eating and on an empty stomach, then I should take the methylprednisolone and meloxicam after the food. She told me I had done it wrong and to try again, that it was strong but it would work if I gave it chance. I messaged a couple of trusted people in the medical profession back home who also thought I should persist. I said I would think about it and didn’t take any that night as I still wasn’t falling asleep by 10pm. Captain Caveman had returned from a successful Son Doong trip and would be meeting me in Phong Nha tomorrow for a couple of days break together.

Captain Caveman and I had another treat planned for Saturday 11th July but first I had my early morning physio session. I had Nam again and he is really good with my foot, spending time sorting out my toes which still seem to be suffering from some sort of nerve damage. Thuy escorted me outside after the session and she got involved with some photo taking as well as a quick update to my translator. I had my trusty Phuong, of Phuong’s Transfers, pick me up from the physio just after 10am where Captain Caveman had us go to buy a screwdriver from the hardware store on the corner. The owner was pressure washing the floor outside the shop and so Phuong, armed with a photo of the required screwdriver, went in to get it for us – he even had a go on the pressure washer! Mission accomplished for only 25,000 vnd (85p) and then a phone call to Captain Caveman to double check it was ok before heading back to pick up my bag from the hotel. Phuong went to get my bag from my room because the staff were busy, as well as checking I had everything and carrying my bags.

I’d arranged to meet Captain Caveman and Veronika for lunch at Phong Nha Farmstay and they were already waiting when I arrived. We had booked in for 2 nights in one of the pool villas again and I was excited, this time we were in Gypsy villa. First we had lunch by the main pool, I remembered to take my medication in the right way this time and all seemed ok. I had the chicken with fried rice while Captain Caveman had pizza (his favourite) and Veronika had soup with quesadillas.
At the villas I had a swim and then I managed to get to the sunken seated patio area where we sat and shared a bottle of white wine. After more swimming, walking in the pool for me, I had a lovely bubble bath in the outdoor bathroom and then we sat outside, next to the private pool, for some drinks. A frazzled Veronika joined us after babysitting all day and we shared some wine but she wasn’t able to join us for dinner. Captain Caveman had the burger and I had the duck, with more wine. I was certainly looking forward to sleeping in one of the comfiest beds in Phong Nha again.

Sunday 12th July was amazing; I had a walk down from the pool villa to the main breakfast area of Phong Nha Farmstay and Captain Caveman took a video of me crutching down the ramp – I was getting better at it! I had bacon, mushrooms and beans while he had sausages and scrambled eggs for breakfast. We spent most of the morning either in or around the pool and I tried my best to resist the crisps which had been added to the mini bar! For lunch I had the fresh spring rolls and Captain Caveman had yet another pizza. More pool action was had in the afternoon and then the temptation of the crisps was too much and we had to have them, along with a bottle of wine – that mini bar is just too well-stocked!!!
By late afternoon I’d also had a red berries rekorderlig cider (the first time in well over a year) which was very refreshing. I treated myself to another bubble bath and in the evening Veronika joined us for a drink, this time we shared a bottle of red wine. Captain Caveman had bun cha for dinner and I had the beef in bamboo. It was such a lovely day and I was pretty tired by 10pm when we went to bed. Tomorrow I was about to embark on my 5th week of physio (and possibly my last) starting my 50th hour in the afternoon.

Photo credits; Phuong, Thuy, Thuy, Captain Caveman, Veronika

24 things I googled in the 1st half of July

24 things I googled in the 1st half of July

In reverse alphabetical order here is a list of all the things I googled in the first 2 weeks of July. This certainly gives you an idea of the types of conversations I’m having with the people around me.

1. World Life Expectancy
2. Weather
3. Vinpearl, Dong Hoi
4. Vietnamese to English translation
5. Using one crutch properly
6. Turkish to English translation
7. Should you walk on sand with healing ligaments
8. Sunblock
9. Pins & Needles
10. Meloxicam
11. Methylprednisolone
12. Hollandaise sauce
13. Grapefruit deaths
14. Gastropulgite powder
15. Fred Dibnah
16. Firey or Fiery in USA
17. English to Vietnamese translation
18. Earthquake Turkey today
19. Diptheria
20. Cream soda
21. Cinema, Dong Hoi
22. Beach on crutches
23. Actors with wavy grey hair
24. Ankle ligaments and toe stiffness
25. Age requirement for a Facebook account

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 2nd week of July

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the 2nd week of July

My week started having breakfast at the Phong Nha Farmstay on Monday 6th July with Keith. He had come over to pick up his motorbike and so we met up one more time before I headed back to Dong Hoi. Keith attempted poached eggs on toast but had to settle for fried while I had bacon, beans and mushrooms.
My physio sessions had so far totalled 35 hours and I was about to embark on another 2 hours per day for the next week. I had already booked a car to take me to Dong Hoi when Caroline and Andrew said they were going and we could share the car and had contacts who could get a cheaper fare. The two of them were booked in to physio from 2pm and so we had time for lunch at a local cafe which Andrew (and Tatas) both recommended, called Nha Hang A Tran. I had a rather tasty My Quang and a can of twister, the food was very cheap and the place had steps up to it which I managed to get up unaided. After physio, which went really well, I went back to the Nam Long Plus hotel where Thuy, the receptionist, made a video of me trying some local food which they had made at the hotel – it was really tasty. Captain Caveman came out of Son Doong but had his next briefing that night and so he would be back in the cave the next day. For dinner I tried a place recommended to me by Phuong, of Phuong’s Transfers, called Com Tam Saigon. I wanted to try the ribs without chillies so asked for help from Thuy to order it – I got chicken, steamed rice and veg with chillies and although it tasted really good I had a bad stomach straight after.

I didn’t bother with breakfast on Tuesday 7th July because my stomach was still dodgy from the night before. I chilled out, did some Turkish, wrote a bit and watched Netflix before ordering a lunch delivery from Tree Hugger. I was feeling really hungry by lunchtime so I had fried veggie spring rolls, french fries, a passion fruit smoothie and complimentary herbal tea. I also ordered fruit salad with yoghurt to put in the fridge for later. As I was leaving the hotel the staff were all making more local food and this time Banh Loc, so I ordered some for tomorrow to take to physio. At physio Thuy, the boss, got to work on my leg and gave it a really good session. The other members of the Triple Cripple Club (Andrew and Caroline) were also there and they looked like they were definitely experiencing more pain than me.
Back at the Nam Long Plus hotel I had my fruit salad, a relaxing bath and chilled out. For dinner I had chicken fried rice from 7th Heaven which was really good and they remembered not to put chillies in.
Before bed I did a tally of the corona virus data to find that while Vietnam had reported another 14 cases and 7 recoveries in the last week, something odd had gone on with the UK figures. They had adjusted the amount of cases reported to 23,500 less than on the 1st of the month (even though the previous day had 900 cases recorded) but had reported 700 deaths in the last week. Turkey had remained similar to the previous week and were reporting 7,900 cases and 100 deaths for the first week of July.
By the 7th July there were almost 12 million cases and nearly 6,000 deaths reported worldwide.

When I woke up on Wednesday 8th July my knee was a bit sore but my ankle swelling had gone. I had pho bo, orange juice and a banana at the hotel for breakfast and then got on with some more writing and Turkish practice. I had a Tree Hugger lunch again but this time chose a beef and veg rice plate with passion fruit smoothie and herbal tea.
Physio was busy especially now that the Triple Cripple Club had taken over and the Banh Loc I took were well received . Andrew was getting the full treatment from his therapist and looked in agony. On the way back to the hotel I went to the ATM and my card got declined twice so I was a bit concerned but when I checked on the online banking system there was nothing wrong with it. That evening I had pork and veg fried rice from 7th Heaven again and an orange, then relaxed with a bit of Netflix.

My breakfast was the usual pho bo, orange juice and tea at the hotel on Thursday 9th July. For lunch I just had some bananas before heading off to my physio session. Today marked 14 days since the news in England showed hundreds of people on the beaches and I wondered if this would be reflected by an increase in the number of Corona cases or deaths but as the figures had been reduced to show a minus figure I couldn’t tell.
At physio Thuy and I discussed pain management and she gave me some fairly strong medication along with some stomach medicine to offset any side effects – I had to take one of each that night.
Tree Hugger is open daily until 6pm and so I pre-ordered a chicken salad for dinner which was delicious and enabled me to take all my medicine – I didn’t realise at the time but it was taken in the wrong order. After an hour any pain had gone, I could pick up a tissue with my bad foot and I even made a video of it. I was so excited to be able to have more pain free movement in my foot and ankle.
I went to bed tired but feeling a bit nauseas – by 3am I was wide awake!!!

From Dong Hoi to Phong Nha – the 1st weekend in July

From Dong Hoi to Phong Nha – the 1st weekend in July

The excitement for Veronika and I continued in to the rest of the weekend while Captain Caveman was on day 2 of his latest Son Doong trip! On Saturday 4th July I awoke to sunshine and nice views from my bedroom window of the Vinpearl hotel. I went down for breakfast extra early so that I could take advantage of one last Vinpearl buffet before returning to Phong Nha for the weekend. Veronika joined me a little later and it was a sure sign it was the weekend as the dining room was quite a lot busier than usual. My physio appointment was at 8am and then I came back and had time for one last bubble bath before check out. Veronika had already organised a car to pick us up from the Vinpearl and run a few errands in the town before heading over to Phong Nha Farmstay. We called in a couple of places and on our last stop at The Face shop we came out to the driver trying to help a western bloke at a bus stop. He was meant to be getting a bus to Phong Nha but, as it was lunchtime, he was in for a long wait. On hearing his British accent we offered to help and I told him to get in the car without even checking with Veronika. We had about 40 minutes to find out more about our new friend as we headed towards our next destination armed with a boot full of flowers, a cake and some birthday gifts.

When we arrived at the Farmstay staff were waiting to help get the items out of the car without Bich, who’s birthday it was, seeing them. They were also a little confused that we had managed to ‘pick up’ Keith from Grimsby on our travels. It had never occured to me that this might not look good to any potential gossip mongers, especially given Veronika was now known for propositioning married men!
Keith was peckish and so, instead of getting off to his homestay straight away, he decided to have lunch with us and a few beers. Bich joined us for birthday wishes and present giving and helped Keith get to his homestay, with plans for him to come visit the next day. I checked in to one of the original rooms where I was given a nice suite with a four-poster bed and 2 bathrooms, situated next to reception and up just 4 steps. It was a really nice room and I found it easy to walk to, I even had a stand-up shower without incident.

Veronika and I had dinner together with Bich and some friends however she was back on grandmother duty so was unable to get in to the wine as we had been doing in Dong Hoi. It was a low key birthday for Bich as the Farmstay was now getting busy and full at weekends but it was nice to see her relax a little. There was a Philippino band on who were very good, I ended up having a bit too much wine and managed to accidentally ruin a few of the birthday photos of Bich with her friends. Back in the room I lined up the bottles of water, brought to me by Sao because I can’t carry them, ready for if I had a hang over in the morning. At 10.30pm I called my parents and had a good chat – I was happy that they had decided against being the first to go to the newly reopened local pubs back in England.

Sunday 5th July was incredibly relaxing and I did hardly anything at all. My breakfast at Phong Nha Farmstay was pho ga, orange juice and green tea with lots of water. I chatted to a few people, had a rest on a sunbed and a dip in the pool. I ate lunch with Veronika and while she enjoyed the mushroom soup and quesadillas, I had the veggie curry with steamed rice which was really filling and tasty. Keith popped over in the afternoon and I met up with him after I had finished my Turkish lesson. He had beer and I had Strongbow as it was happy hour and then he had to leave his motorbike and get the shuttle bus over to Victory Road Villas. He ordered a pie which he took home with him while Veronika and I sat by the pool to eat our duck, risotto and veg with a bottle of our favourite sparkling wine.
Back in the room I saw a post from my old work colleague which upset me. My friend and ex supervisor, at a pub I used to work in, had posted a summary on Facebook of her observations from working in the bar the previous night. I was happy I wasn’t there right now, I felt sorry for the staff (my friends), as well as embarrassed and disappointed that some of the punters could not follow the rules to keep safe – it was very worrying.

Dong Hoi – 3rd July

Dong Hoi – 3rd July

When I woke up on Friday 3rd July I saw news that my mate’s hen do had been rebooked and we were off to Budapest in 2021. We had been booked to go to Marbella this year but had cancelled due to the virus and now the bride and hens had been busy organising a new celebration. I’ve never been to Budapest and have been to Marbella a few times so I was even more excited at this holiday. I planned to go there straight from Vietnam and had a marvellous idea that I might even extend my stay there a bit longer than just the weekend. Flights back from Budapest to London were only £20 in the week and so that looked like a possibility.
For breakfast Veronika and I met for our feast at the Vinpearl hotel again and then I went off to the beauty salon for a head, neck and shoulder massage. The receptionist welcomed me with a pot of ginger tea and a pre massage health questionnaire in a very professional manner. All the staff at the Vinpearl wear their face masks throughout their shifts and it was no different in the spa area. Quynh, the massage therapist, came to collect me and as I followed her on my crutches she headed to a staircase. When I had booked in I had been told that the massage would take place on the same floor but this evidently wasn’t the case and I had to crutch down the stairs with the help of the staff. Once in the room I was given a foot bath and a light foot massage then asked to lay face down on the bed. I’d completely forgotten that I might find it uncomfortable because of my injured leg but it actually worked out ok and the bed was so comfy. The massage was absolutely brilliant and I will definitely be booking in again, I was so relaxed that I fell asleep towards the end and felt so good afterwards. The stairs were definitely more difficult to get up than they were to get down and I was very tired when I got to the top. I had another pot of ginger tea and got a few photos before heading back to my room for a rest and some lunch before physio.

In the evening I met Veronika in the hotel bar at sunset and I noticed that they had our favourite sparkling wine so I ordered it. The waitress thought I wanted a bottle of whiskey at first but we soon sorted that out. It took a while for the staff to get the correct glasses and an ice bucket as they probably weren’t used to people ordering fizz. We invited Des over and we had a lovely chilled out pre dinner drink before heading over to 7th Heaven. Veronika had the chicken schnitzel, Des and I ordered the Australian beef steak and I stuck to water as the restaurant only sells wine by the bottle at the moment. The food, as usual, was fantastic and we had a really lovely evening – it was Des’s last weekend in Dong Hoi and so we had to say goodbye, which was a bit sad. We promised to keep in touch and would catch up in Danang when we next visited.
Before I went to bed I read that in England pubs were getting ready to open the next day and I was interested to find out how it would pan out.

Dong Hoi – 2nd July

Dong Hoi – 2nd July

I’d been having such a good time in Dong Hoi with Veronika that I’d almost forgotten that Captain Caveman had returned from his last Son Doong trip. On Thursday 2nd July he was busy back in Phong Nha and so was unable to meet up in Dong Hoi. Veronika and I enjoyed a hearty breakfast and she helped me by selecting my food for me, including some excellent bacon and piping hot beans. We had pho and fruit and lots of refreshments before heading back to our rooms. I was getting ready to go to the swimming pool when I had a message from Des to say he was free to meet up and I made my way to a fabulous little cafe for a cold drink. Talk Cafe is a really cute cafe occupying a corner position in the centre of Dong Hoi, I’d got a taxi there and Linh helped me as soon as I arrived. It’s a charity organisation so they are used to dealing with disabled and they even have a ramp!
The peach tea was excellent and we also had some rather nice herbal iced tea, Veronika joined us a bit later for a cappuccino. I headed off to physio while Veronika ran a few errands and had a stroll back to the hotel. On arrival at physio I saw another Phong Nha resident with an old knee injury which had flared up. Some of the positions Nam, the therapist, had him in looked painful – he warned me I was likely to get a similar going over later down the line.

Back at the hotel and after a lovely bubble bath Veronika came to my room with yet another bottle of bubbly and we ordered some spring rolls. Being in a fancy hotel I wrongly presumed we may get a small portion so we ordered two lots, only to find they were fairly substantial servings. We missed sunset at the hotel bar but we did go there for more food after we had finished the bottle of wine. I had the meat & cheese again while Veronika had what looked like a great tiramisu. We spoke to her family back in Phong Nha, saying what fun we were having, resulting in them agreeing she should book an extra night. The Vinpearl rates were very reasonable and so it was decided that a third night would be spent there.

Dong Hoi – 1st July

Dong Hoi – 1st July

I had a late breakfast at the Nam Long Plus hotel on Wednesday 1st July; pho bo with a different flavour to it this time so I checked it wasn’t chilli and the receptionist told me it was just some flavouring they put in the soup. I also had orange juice, tea and some complimentary melon before heading back to the room to get packed and ready to check out at noon. Veronika had already got a ride in to Dong Hoi earlier that morning and we’d each managed to get good deals on a midweek stay at the Vinpearl hotel. When I went to drop my bag off there I was able to check in earlier so I had a quick snack for lunch and then headed to physio as usual to continue my treatment. Today marked a fortnight since I first started going there, it was incredibly hot in the physio heat treatment room but Hoa made sure I had a fan on me. My physio went well and I had a lot of ice on both my knee and my ankle, which felt good.

When I got back to the Vinpearl hotel, after 5pm, the views were really good from the 15th floor and I’d received a fruit plate for being a returning guest. I messaged Veronika to let her know I was having a bath and did she want to meet up after for drinks and dinner. Veronika looked like she had a similar idea as she had sent a message which read
‘Relaxing. Bubbly is in the fridge. Let me know when you are ready for it. What room are you in?’
Unfortunately she sent it to the wrong person and while I was waiting and wondering where she was, she got a funny reply;
‘That’s very kind but as a non drinker I’ll have to pass and I also have my reputation as a happily married man to maintain. 😲 think perhaps that was meant for someone else.’
Veronika was horrified that she had mistakenly sent the message intended for me to a friend from Phong Nha, who probably now thought Veronika was up to no good. She did her best to explain only to have a response that he didn’t judge!
When Veronika finally came to my room, armed with a bottle of Tattinger champagne, we were both in hysterics. The fizz went down well and then we went to the hotel bar for dinner. I had the chicken wings and a cheese & meat plate with a pineapple juice. It was a great day and we were looking forward to more of the same tomorrow – possibly without Veronika propositioning young men!

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the end of June

Phong Nha and Dong Hoi – the end of June

I woke up early on Monday 29th June to news that there had been an earthquake in the Muğla region of Turkey, where Captain Caveman has an apartment. It had been quite strong and had even been felt in Dalyan and some things had fell off shelves in people’s homes. I spent some time checking emails, and getting organised for my next week of physio in Dong Hoi, I even took a couple of rice crackers for snacking. I managed to take my full backpack, my bum-bag and crutches down all the stairs together with me, ready to get my car with Phuong’s Transfers to The Villas. I decided it would be a good idea to have breakfast there first, then order some takeaway lunch to go with me to Dong Hoi. Phuong arrived early and messaged me to say he was outside, he carried my bags, was there for assistance on the steps and even locked the front door and brought me the keys to the car. He’s so friendly, helpful and reliable and he had agreed to drop me off at The Villas and then collect me again at 1pm to take me to Dong Hoi ready to check in and get to my afternoon physio appointment. At The Villas I was welcomed, as always, by the staff and I sat inside with the AC on for a breakfast of pho ga, which I really enjoyed, and a peppermint tea.
I drank lots of water and then ordered 2 portions of the veggie spring rolls to takeaway, which I almost forgot. Phuong was early to pick me up and helped with bags and carrying my lunch and we had a smooth trip in to Dong Hoi.

The physio was definitely starting to get more painful and I think this was because I had rested the day before so everything was very tender. So far I had endured 25 hours of physical therapy and even though there were only small improvements I could definitely see and feel a benefit.
I saw a post on Facebook which confirmed that Vietnam were still not permitting any flights in or out of Vietnam for the foreseeable future even though other nearby countries had started to permit some flights. I started to make enquiries about my visa extension as it was due to expire in just over 2 weeks. In the evening I decided to try a place for delivery which I had not had before, Oregano, which had been recommended by a few people. I ordered Hawaiian pizza with french fries. When it came it had bacon, sweetcorn and onion on rather than the usual ham and pineapple. I took the toppings off and put it on rice crackers but it was quite difficult to pull apart. The french fries were really good though and the can of full fat coke went down really well – I was feeling dehydrated.

The last day of the month, Tuesday 30th June, was pretty routine. I didn’t bother with breakfast and did some Turkish lessons instead. I had veggie spring rolls and chips from Tree Hugger for lunch and then went to physio. There was pain and the exercises were getting harder but this time the therapist managed to straighten my leg while it was in a vertical position. I also got a massage on my bum cheek which I didn’t realise before but it really needed it.
I had a different room at the Nam Long Plus this time which had a desk and a chair, which was useful. The room also had a kettle but no cups or beverages which was odd. For dinner I had fruit salad and yoghurt and rested up. I also made some plans with Veronika who was planning to come to Dong Hoi the next day.