Phong Nha – 30th March

Phong Nha – 30th March

I had spent 590,000vnd (£18.30) yesterday I noted, when I got up on Tuesday 30th March and I was conscious that the spending was creeping up again. Wine is just so expensive here and I really didn’t want to have to drink beer or cider instead so maybe I would just need to limit myself a bit more. That was easier said than done as there was another girls night booked in for later. I put on lots of high factor suncream and packed a spare shirt and something to cover my head with, for the cycle to The Villas with Ania. She didn’t have a bicycle yet, or know the way to get to The Villas via our place, so I agreed to meet her for breakfast at the Farmstay so we could cycle together. Tatas had a day off and was keen to meet because she had a new bikini that she wanted to wear at the pool and get me to take photos of her for Instagram, as is the Vietnamese girl way.
When I arrived at the Phong Nha Farmstay I was a hot, sweaty mess and I started to think we might be a bit stupid to cycle almost 20km in a day in this heat. My journey only took me 8 minutes and 3 seconds which I think was my fastest yet but that was because I was desperate for some shade. I had a pho bo for breakfast and lots of water but then had a bad stomach straight after, with pain, even though it contains nothing I’m allergic to. Annette and Veronika had taken motorbikes for a jaunt around the national park for the morning, I said we might meet them at The Villas, along with Tatas for lunch but the more we thought about it the more it seemed a daft idea so we stayed where we were. Sonya joined us and we sat by the pool drinking water and chatting until lunch time.
For those who remember Keith, from Grimsby, he messaged to say he was back in Dong Hoi and would be coming to Phong Nha tomorrow. This settled the going to The Villas by bicycle conundrum as we could go tomorrow to meet Keith and so we had lunch at The Phong Nha Farmstay instead. Already having a dodgy stomach (for no particular reason) I chose a chicken salad without the cucumber which was really tasty but I was ill straight after and had to cycle home. It took me 9 minutes 40 seconds which was very slow but I felt quite unwell while riding Bluey back home. Veronika was already in the pool and after I felt a bit more stable I got my swimmers on and went to sit on the balcony. I noticed the pool had quite a lot of feathers and twigs in it from some sparrows who were building a nest in the eaves. While Veronika had to pop back up to the Farmstay for babysitting duties, I spent half an hour by the pool until it was time to get ready as Tatas was on her way over. She was going to stay at ours tonight and so had brought her overnight bag to drop off, then we got a lift with Duyet to the Farmstay.

Ania was still in an online meeting so we got a bottle of wine and started without her. When she arrived she brought yesterday’s spare wine and then Veronika came over to say she was already sat at a table in the dark with Annette and Sonya but they had already eaten. I decided to have duck a l’orange with rice and vegetables for my dinner, hoping my stomach could handle it and it was so good. Annette came to join us for a bit of wine and some girly chat before going to bed and we ended up drinking until gone 9.30pm again! It was a good night, less wine than usual and no shots this time so we would be ready for a full day tomorrow! My bill came to 610,000vnd (£19) as the duck dish is one of the pricier choices but I felt fine after eating it and I really enjoyed it.
Back in England today was the day that more relaxing of the lockdown rules took place and people were allowed to have 6 people in a garden without masks – it made no sense to me, as I couldn’t understand the rationale or timing, but a lot of my friends back home were going to be taking advantage of this new freedom. I read that the beer gardens in England would be opening next month so that socialising could begin again.

Phong Nha – 27th March

Phong Nha – 27th March

Captain Caveman was up early and off to Phong Nha, by bicycle, on Saturday 27th March while I got busy doing stuff. We had a plan to meet up at the Lake House before 1pm as Captain Caveman had a friend arriving from Saigon, who was staying there. There was also a returning Farmstay customer and friend, Annette, arriving on the same flight for her third stay and we would be meeting her and her friend later. If I didn’t hear from Captain Caveman by noon my instructions were to set off cycling on Bluey, up the hill. I was almost ready to go when Captain Caveman arrived and decided to make himself a peanut butter sandwich before going for lunch. It took me a little over 9 mins to get there, which included about 2 minutes of walking when it got to the steep part and I had to get off and push Bluey.
Captain Caveman tried to order a shandy but they had ran out of beer so he had 7up and I had soda water. We were getting hungry so ended up ordering lunch – a sweet and sour chicken for me and a steak sandwich for him. The food came, and was really tasty, Tony returned and joined us for a chat, then David and his family arrived. It was a nice afternoon until I had to cycle on to the Phong Nha Farmstay, I found it a bit hilly in parts and difficult to navigate the turn off of the main road. The whole journey was just over 18 minutes and I was pleased to have made it there in one piece, so I celebrated with a cider!

Annette and her friend, Sonya, were both happy to be away from work and the hectic pace of their life in Saigon. We sat at a table by the pool and rice paddies at the Farmstay and Veronika joined us briefly while still supervising the grandkids. Matty joined us while Captain Caveman was still there, followed by Hamish and Ania. I decided to leave my bicycle at the Farmstay and ended up drinking lots of white wine and some tequila shots while Captain Caveman was at his briefing. For dinner I ordered chicken with fried rice which was really good, Hamish ordered spring rolls but didn’t eat any of them as he was too busy with the wine. Ania ordered a veggie curry and helped Hamish out as she ate some of the spring rolls still in front of him. All seemed to be going well and everyone was having a good time as we kept on getting more white wine. Annette even got in the pool fully clothed – twice! Captain Caveman rejoined us, he had cycled back from Oxalis and was sober so had a shot and some white wine. The last thing I remember of the evening was me following Captain Caveman home in the rascal with Duyet, as he cycled back. I remembered to put my phone on the Do Not Disturb mode before going to sleep and the alarm was set for early the next morning.

Photo credit – Captain Caveman

Phong Nha – 15th & 16th March

Phong Nha – 15th & 16th March

Things got out of hand on Monday 15th March, and what should have been a boring Monday morning was quite stressful. Hamish was meant to have been going on an Oxalis tour but was taken to Dong Hoi hospital because of a serious asthma attack. I had a couple more issues to deal with which were an unnecessary waste of time, before I’d even had time to eat breakfast of toast, and it was a rather hot day that I was missing out on! I turned my phone off and decided to get the new bikini on and have a dip in the pool – the water was freezing!
I had carrot cake for lunch, which made me have a bad stomach and then I just lay on the sunlounger while learning Vietnamese on Duolingo.
Later that afternoon Hamish discharged himself and came back to The Farmstay, luckily looking like he would live! For dinner I just had hummus and rice crackers as my stomach was still iffy, so no more cake for me!

Tuesday 16th March started early again with the loudspeaker at 5.30am.
In the news today there were reports of a possibility of allowing foreign tourists in to Vietnam in July but still nothing concrete to go on, read it here:
https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/904845/viet-nam-needs-to-open-borders-for-tourism-recovery-experts.html
I took Bluey, my bicycle, to the Farmstay via the French Road and it took me exactly 20 minutes. I sat by the pool where there was a good breeze and ordered pho bo, green tea and a soda water. The cycling was getting easier and I wasn’t as thirsty and out of breath when I arrived. Hamish came to join me, he still really didn’t look too well. Mik came over with Kendra and Bryan, two of their Danang friends, who had just arrived and were heading out on motorbikes for a look around Phong Nha. I liked them both straight away and I knew we would all get on well. Hamish added me to their Facebook chat group so that I could be included in any activities with them all, which was nice.
When I got back home it had only taken me 18 minutes 38 seconds, Veronika and Howie had gone for lunch at The Villas and I had leftover Sunday dinner for my lunch. Later I made popcorn and ate 6 of the expensive dates that I still had. I put in my order for shepherd’s pie at the Farmstay that night and went up a bit earlier so that I could meet Kendra and Bryan properly.
I was out of red wine at home so I bought a bottle and would take what I didn’t drink home, I had also taken tuppaware with me for leftovers but there were none.
Hamish, Mik, Kendra and Bryan were booked in for a trip to the Bong Lai Valley the next day and invited me too. As I was leaving Ben said I should come on the trip tomorrow as we would be going to the Pub with Cold Beer for lunch and I do love it there!

Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of March

Phong Nha – the 2nd weekend of March

After a busy start to the weekend I planned to have a relaxed and easy going Saturday on 13th March. I had buttered toast for breakfast and had suffered no ill effects of that, or the pizza from the night before. I decided to make pork and sweetcorn fried rice for lunch and made far too much so saved the rest for dinner. Captain Caveman and Quyen had returned to Phong Nha from their Hang Va cave trip but I didn’t meet either of them. Captain Caveman went to The Villas for food and then got on the bus to Hanoi at 7pm, he was off on an exploration holiday for a week with our Sapa friends, Phil and Hoa, in Tuyen Quang. Quyen had still to find herself somewhere to stay so went for Tropical Homestay. We arranged to meet the next day rather than for dinner because of either one of us having to cycle in the dark, which wasn’t a good idea.

On Sunday 14th March it was Mother’s Day and so I tried to make sure I was busy enough to avoid worrying about my mom not being able to have a Mother’s Day celebration, back in Sheffield. My parents were still staying at home and now the celebrations were coming back around again – who would have thought a year later it would be like this!
Captain Caveman had arrived in My Dinh (Hanoi) bus station around 5am and had 3 hours to wait for another bus to Tuyen Quang, while I didn’t wake up until 7am. Quyen and I had arranged for her to borrow a bicycle from Tropical Homestay and cycle to my place so that we could then ride the long way to the Farmstay for lunch.
Quyen arrived, later than expected, after it took her almost an hour to get here and she got lost a bit. The ride to the Farmstay was really nice and we took it easy so that she could admire the country side and rice paddy views. My friend absolutely loved it and I was pleased because I was worried she would find the route too easy. We sat by the pool at the Farmstay and ordered some wine, where I introduced Quyen to Veronika, Bich, Matty & Hamish and their friend from Danang, Richard.
Our food came and it was really good; Quyen had the seafood banh xeo, Matty chicken quesadillas with chilli jam, Hamish a chicken salad and I had nem lui.
Both Richard and Quyen were going to Dong Hoi that afternoon so they arranged to share Quyen’s car which she had already booked and we got ready to leave so she could get back in time. I was going to pay but Quyen wouldn’t have any of it and paid for our wine and lunch which was really kind and unexpected. On the cycle back we took some photos, it was a lovely day and I even caught the sun, despite the factor 50 suncream. I decided I would go to the Farmstay to eat Sunday dinner with Matty, Hamish, Mik and new guest, John.
John had already met Captain Caveman when he came to Phong Nha before and had been cycling with him so we chatted about that. I shared the bottle of white wine which Matty had bought while the others had beer or water. The Sunday roast was lovely, as usual, and I took some home with my carrot cake that I couldn’t manage.
I stayed up late so that I could video call my mom and dad and we had a good chat, luckily they are keeping safe and staying at home but I was definitely missing seeing them a lot. By midnight I realised I might be a bit noisy so we finished the call and I went to sleep.

Phong Nha – 12th March

Phong Nha – 12th March

Being woken up by a massive cockerel crowing at 6am on Friday 12th March is not how I had envisaged my weekend starting. There were many reasons I didn’t really want to stay at the Glass House including; no longer being registered there for immigration purposes, not having my trusty shower shoes, still being unable to get down stairs easily and most importantly wondering how on earth I would get home once Captain Caveman went off on his trip to Hang Va. Captain Caveman gave me his keys so I could get out of the building and suggested I cycle on my old bicycle to The Villas and just stay there until pizza night, when I’d then get a lift home.
I had an extra hour in bed after Captain Caveman left, with a rough plan for me to see him on the 20th March. I managed to find my rubber sandals which I used as shower shoes and I found a few items that I could take home with me, including contact lenses. I managed to get down the stairs of the Glass House with my rucksack fairly easily compared to how I used to so I was definitely improving. It was a bit tricky getting the old bicycle out of the door and then it started to rain a little. I didn’t like riding my old bicycle at all, the right pedal was sloping downwards and my bad foot kept slipping off. It took me 13 minutes to ride the 2km distance as I had to go so slowly.
For breakfast I decided to treat myself seeing as I was at the nicest restaurant in town and I ordered 2 servings of bacon, hash browns and baked beans with a camomile tea. The bacon was great, crispy, the beans were hot but I wasn’t a fan of the new hash browns which were more like balls of mashed potato with a thin crust, like a potato croquette. I caught up on some blogging, using the spacious back room to work from and then when Tatas stopped by for coffee I (stupidly) decided to have a hot chocolate with cream. Since being able to tolerate eating gluten again I am really struggling with uncooked dairy and I think egg, although it’s still difficult to tell. I spent the next few hours in and out of the toilet and feeling rubbish.
Momma D was back in Phong Nha after a couple of weeks away looking after her sick friend and was keen to meet up. We arranged 2.30pm so she could get to work at her rooftop bar later and she brought her cute dog, Kevin. Momma D was a bit disappointed when I told her I was only drinking water because of my stomach as she had hoped to share a bottle of wine, I told her to go ahead without me but instead she had a coffee.

Feeling a bit weak and drained, I quite fancied just going home for a lay down but I couldn’t do that for the following reasons:
Tatas was on her way back from caving, Mik was on his way back to Phong Nha, both of those plus Veronika, Hamish and Matty were on their way over to Pizza Night, and there was no way I was cycling my old bicycle any further so I had no transport. I bought a bottle of wine for me and Tatas to share (it was my turn) but didn’t start drinking it and we sat at the usual table inside. Mik arrived and they were all on G&Ts when Hamish decided Tequilas were in order. I explained I didn’t want to join in, I was struggling to even take a sip of wine until after a bit of pizza and I sat out on the shots. Veronika decided to sit outside with the other Farmstay guests and even Ben wondered why Hamish and I prefer indoor dining when it’s warm – the mozzies love to bite us too much.
The pizzas were as good as usual, with my favourites being the Showstopper (blue cheese, proscuitto, fig jam and spring onion) and the Momma D (salami, mushroom, feta and olive) – yes Momma D has a pizza named after her! Hamish, Matty, Mik and Tatas were really getting down the tequilas and everyone was laughing, joking and in good spirits(!) Some of Tatas’ customers arrived, as expected, at The Villas so she went to eat with them and I insisted she take the rest of the wine with her. We decided to get the first pick up service back home and the blokes spoke of getting more drinks when they got back to the Farmstay. I needed my bed, it had been a long day!

Photo credit – The Villas

Phong Nha – 10th March

Phong Nha – 10th March

Having had a restful day yesterday, it came as no surprise that Wednesday 10th March was likely to be a bit livelier! I woke up with the loudspeaker noise (again) at 5.30am and I was really hungry. I had toast and arranged with Bich to get a lift to The Villas to attempt to retrieve my bicycle, Bluey, who had been abandoned there since Margarita Monday.
At The Villas I joined Veronika, Matty and Howie while Bich did work stuff. Howie and Matty ordered ice-cream, I ordered some lunch from the vegetarian menu, the potato, artichoke and edamame bean salad which was an old favourite of mine. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up when I ordered this dish from the vegetarian menu but the waitress knows I’m not a vegetarian because I eat meat, so I initially got the fish version, which I couldn’t eat. Veronika ended up eating it while I had a new one made and they all went back to the Farmstay by car, while I finished my delicious veggie food while contemplating the cycle back. I realised it was getting hotter and windier which would make my cycle home harder so I paid my 130,000vnd (£4) and set off.
The cycle ride was hard work but I tried to focus on keeping my leg in line and applying equal pressure with each leg. As I wiped the sweat from my eyes and wished I’d brought my sunglasses I came to a bit of a hill and I was finding the pedalling very difficult when Jack rode past on his motorbike as I neared a cafe and saw Vinh who I used to work with a few years ago too and had to shout to both that I couldn’t stop, mainly because I wouldn’t get going again if I did. When I got back home it had taken me almost 41 minutes (4 minutes slower than on the way there for Margarita Monday) and I was so purple everyone at Elements looked worried. I went straight in the shower to cool down and found I was very hungry after my almost 9km bike ride against a head wind and in hot sun. I had bread and hummus as a snack, realising I still hadn’t eaten my left over dinner from Sunday. I decided to stay in that night as I was knackered and couldn’t sit very well. I had leftover Sunday dinner and an early night after a busy (for me) day. I was just pleased to have managed to cycle home without getting off the bicycle, abandoning Bluey or have to call someone for help!

Phong Nha – 8th March

Phong Nha – 8th March

Monday 8th March was rather exciting for me as I achieved a couple of my progress goals. First I had to contend with the loudspeaker noise and waking up soaked in sweat at 5.30am! Captain Caveman was off to Son Doong for 4 days and was up and out earlier than he needed to be. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I watched more Amazing Hotels, ate carrot cake for breakfast which I had a bad reaction to!

Matty was due back from Saigon, Hamish and Mik were due back from their Hang En trip and it was Margarita Monday so arrangements were made to meet at The Villas later. My dodgy stomach had gone by 1.30pm when Veronika and I bravely set off on our bicycles to cycle the 8.9km to The Villas. This was about to be the first attempt at cycling this distance all in one journey and it was quite a hot day for it. Matty had messaged to say he would get his taxi from the airport to drop him straight to The Villas.
The news in Vietnam reported that discussions have started about international tourism and the potential reopening of the country, but it still seemed a while off:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/business/20210308/vietnam-eyes-stepwise-plan-to-reopen-to-foreign-tourists/59656.html
Meanwhile back home today was the start of the new UK plan to come out of lockdown. Today, back in England, everyone is allowed to meet one other person in a park and I genuinely wondered how the logistics of that would work and wanted to ask everyone I knew in England who they chose and why – had the person you chose already chose someone else perhaps?


Veronika was faster than me on her bicycle and there were sections where she was way ahead as we cycled along the road passing what used to be The Bomb Crater Bar and Sy’s homestay. I saw a bright yellow and green snake as we neared the underpass not far from Magic Fingers massage place and homestay. My knee didn’t hurt but my bum certainly did by the time we arrived at our destination 37 minutes later with a bit of a sweat on! Bluey was parked up with the intention I would get a lift to come ride her back tomorrow but I seriously wondered if I would be able to even move tomorrow. We sat at a table by the river hoping for a peaceful rest and we ordered juices from a new waitress, Van, who I wished Happy Women’s Day in Vietnamese, while we waited for Matty. Veronika had already eaten lunch so she ordered a panacotta while I decided to try something I had never had before – a chicken, bacon, lettuce and gherkin sandwich with chips.

By the time Matty arrived the next door place to The Villas had the karaoke blasting out and so Veronika decided to cycle home while Matty and I moved to sit at the back of the The Villas, near the pool. We ordered margaritas and got free popcorn but Matty had to work at 6am the next day so didn’t want to drink too much. That went out of the window when we moved to another table, nearer the bar but still outside, and Hamish and Mik arrived. They were straight on the Gin and Tonics, we got another margarita and then the tequilas made an appearance. It sounded like they had an exciting Hang En trip and gave us an update of their 2 day adventure. Vu and little Ngoc, were also at The Villas and they insisted on buying me another margarita for Women’s Day and we decided to test out the dancefloor. I even had a dance with the security guard who is always really nice and helpful to me – my first dance as a duo in almost 11 months. Poor Manu, the manager, was a bit nervous I might fall and so was there looking out for me. I was quite safe though and I was so grateful to have cycled nearly 9km, including getting over a bridge, and was able to dance again – progress indeed. We had such a good time but we all forgot to order any dinner and I think the Margarita Mondays might be getting out of hand a bit!

Phong Nha – the 1st week of March

Phong Nha – the 1st week of March

Monday 1st March started off as quite an ordinary day for me, here in Phong Nha.
I’d decided that March was going to be a good month to get a bit fitter and healthier but I still had carrot cake in the fridge from last night so I had buttered toast for breakfast with a pot of jasmine tea before eating the cake as my lunch! It was quite warm out and felt very muggy but I didn’t let it put me off going for a ride on Bluey. I cycled to the French Road and back, which took just 9 minutes 44 seconds and, when I got home, I made popcorn.
Captain Caveman came back from Son Doong and was off to his usual gala dinner at Chay Lap at 5.30pm so he suggested I meet him at The Villas. It was Margarita Monday and I arrived first, Captain Caveman arrived shortly after me and we ordered a couple of margaritas. Matty arrived next and Captain Caveman had to leave before Tatas arrived, Matty and I had another margarita and a pizza each – he had a prosciutto and tomato one, I had salami, mushroom and pineapple. Captain Caveman sent me a few messages to say he was drinking rice wine with his customers, that he was on his way back to The Villas, that he was late, and that he was just setting off but never arrived so I took a lift back home with Matty and Bich.
I didn’t know it at the time but we probably drove past Captain Caveman who was drinking with his colleagues at a cafe that used to be Yummy’s. For once I was the sensible one and didn’t have that many margaritas compared to last week.

Captain Caveman was extremely hungover on Tuesday 2nd March and didn’t remember much of the previous night. He had to sort himself out, though, as he had his next briefing tonight and was back in to Son Doong tomorrow. I made him cheese on toast, I had jam on toast and I ordered myself a shepherd’s pie for tonight. The weather wasn’t great either so I didn’t do any cycling. I booked a bus ticket for Captain Caveman to go to Hanoi in a couple of week’s time as he was off to see our friends, Phil and Hoa in the north for a week. In Saigon they ended lockdown restrictions and in Hanoi they reopened restaurants and bars.
I got peckish in the afternoon as I’d had no lunch but didn’t want to spoil my shepherd’s pie eating abilities so I had a date, some walnuts and a rice cracker. Captain Caveman set off early to his briefing so that he could pick up his bus ticket, on the way back he picked up three loaves of bread from the Lake House and he got back in time to join us for shepherd’s pie, after all. Bich had also got Veronika and I two sourdough loaves of bread and so now, Captain Caveman was about to be away for most of the month and I had 5 loaves of bread.
I restricted myself to just one glass of wine with my shepherd’s pie while dining with Captain Caveman, Veronika and Matty – I even took home some left over pie and veg to have tomorrow.

Captain Caveman went off to his next Son Doong tour on Wednesday 3rd March so we were both up early as I also had some work to do. As the ‘being frugal with the housekeeping’ mission seemed to be working well and Captain Caveman was impressed that I was trying to save money, I decided that each time he was in the cave I would do the challenge and see how I did, even though this time he left me 2 million Dong (£62)! The idea behind it being that we had more to spend on my monthly visa extensions, trips away and to keep living somewhere with a pool so that as it got warmer I could afford to replace my very old swimwear and get fitter by swimming.
I was downstairs slicing bread, all 5 loaves, and boxing them up for the fridge or freezer when Veronika came downstairs, dressed for winter and a bit hurried. She had decided she was going to ride her motorbike to Dong Hoi with Ben and told me not to worry if she didn’t come home as she may stay over. I had a very quiet day working through my To Do list and managed to polish off most of the crusts from the bread, the leftover shepherd’s pie, 3 satsumas and a small chocolate bar (bought for us as a Tet gift from Ai, landlady of the Glass House).
Instead of going out on Bluey in the rain I did my exercises and then started watching Amazing Hotels on Netflix. For dinner I had hummus and rice crackers and a couple of small glasses of wine while watching the TV

I woke up at 7am on Thursday 4th March, I had toast for breakfast and decided to take myself out for a ride on Bluey to incorporate lunch out at the Farmstay. I cycled the short way there in 9 minutes 43 seconds but it wasn’t a pleasant journey because there was quite a lot of mud on the road. I ordered a ginger beer and some fresh pork and prawn spring rolls for lunch and had a good chat and a laugh with Bich. I only spent 130,000vnd (about £4) and would be eating at home later. I chilled out a bit and contacted Mommy Shark in Hoi An to enquire about swimwear in western sizes as I was desperate for new swimmers. On the cycle back I decided to do the longer route, along the French Road, by the river and it took me 21 minutes and 37 seconds. I was knackered when I got in and had to have a little rest while watching more Amazing Hotels. That evening I had chicken in a tomato and olive sauce with green beans and steamed rice, washed down with a glass of wine. A friend who had also watched Amazing Hotels had commented how nice Brando’s in French Polynesia was – it reminded me of Le Domaine in Tam Hai during it’s early years, a lovely place. The housekeeping staff arrived to clean the balconies and windows and brought some lovely flowers and I had an early night – I even set my alarm to get up for cycling.

Photo credit – Bich, Phong Nha Farmstay

Phong Nha – 25th February

Phong Nha – 25th February

Captain Caveman was up at 5am on Thursday 25th February and off to the beach with Ben for some surfing. Surprisingly there was no loud announcement on the tannoy this morning!
There was some great news in Vietnam as it was reported that there would be enough vaccines for the country in 2021!!! See link:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210225/vietnam-says-to-secure-90-million-covid19-vaccine-doses-this-year/59458.html
Unfortunately there was another variant of the virus found in the dead Japanese man in Hanoi, see below:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210225/5th-coronavirus-variant-in-vietnam-found-in-japanese-who-died-in-hanoi/59464.html
and some not so good news of a woman in Hanoi who had been released after 3 negative tests but then was positive again 4 days later, more info here:
https://vietnaminsider.vn/hanoi-woman-tested-positive-again-for-covid-19-after-released-from-hospital/
I was meant to be meeting Captain Caveman for breakfast at the Farmstay so I cycled the long way round to get there, my confidence was getting stronger and I managed to overtake a man who was walking his cow. This time it took me 20 minutes and 31 seconds to do about 4.5km – a whole 2 minutes quicker (and it was hotter than the previous day). I ordered a soda water, an orange juice and pho bo for breakfast and there was no sign of Captain Caveman so I started without him. When he arrived he ordered a beer which I thought was a strange breakfast choice but it turned out he had already eaten smoked salmon and scrambled eggs at The Villas. After chatting to Bich and Howie for a bit I decided to set off because Captain Caveman was on his motorbike anyway and it was getting hot and sticky. I did the short route back and was 1 minute 21 seconds quicker. I had some rest on the sunlounger, we had chicken salad for lunch but in the afternoon I felt ill (a bad stomach and I felt really cold) so I had an afternoon nap. Around 4.30pm Captain Caveman woke me up to tell me he was off back to Phong Nha and I thought it was the next morning already. He was booked in for a shave at the hairdresser’s and then was off for his next Son Doong briefing at 6pm. In the evening I still didn’t feel too good and couldn’t eat any dinner so I had some popcorn and started watching Behind Her Eyes on Netflix. This week I was glad to have exercised more and consumed less, in fact this was the best week of the month!

Phong Nha – 23rd February

Phong Nha – 23rd February

There was only one person close to me on Tuesday 23rd February who was more annoyed with the loud tannoy from 5.30am, than me – a very hungover Captain Caveman! He got up and went to Phong Nha and I went back to sleep when the noise stopped! I woke up at 9am and caught up on some Duolingo and some writing. I’d not checked my emails for a while and, after hearing that the UK wouldn’t allow holidays until 17th May, I wondered if my April flight to Turkey would get cancelled. I had toast for breakfast and when Captain Caveman came back he had only been to The Villas for his breakfast! I managed another spot of cycling and this time I took 10 minutes but Captain Caveman did get a video of me.
I just had walnuts and cashew nuts for lunch as Captain Caveman had plans for dinner – for the first time in a long time we were missing Shepherd’s pie night! I suggested that I might try a mini triathlon tomorrow and asked Captain Caveman if he’d like to join in as the weather was meant to be getting hot. He replied that he didn’t think eating breakfast, lunch and dinner counted as a triathlon! It wasn’t meant to be a joke, either!
He made sausages with potatoes and veg for dinner and I had a small glass of red wine. It was a relaxing, easy going day which I was grateful for and there was some optimistic news reported during this day which felt somewhat hopeful for the future.
In Vietnam the vaccination process looked good and was coming soon;
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210223/vietnams-health-ministry-lists-target-groups-for-upcoming-covid19-vaccination/59419.html
The authorities were still dishing out penalties for not declaring whereabouts or giving misleading info on the forms:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210223/teacher-in-northern-vietnam-fined-for-false-health-declaration/59421.html
And proof that in all countries there will still be people who go ahead and cause the spread instead of preventing Corona:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210223/vietnamese-official-requests-investigation-of-two-nurses-for-allegedly-causing-local-covid19-transmission/59429.html

Phong Nha – 18th February

Phong Nha – 18th February

The alarm went off at 5.30am on Thursday 18th February for Captain Caveman going to the beach with Ben and Matty for a spot of surfing. I did my blogging until 8am and then fell back to sleep, finding out it’s the quietest part of the day to grab another 2 hours. When Captain Caveman returned it was raining and he made us salami and asparagus for breakfast, mine with toast and his with egg. After breakfast I went to welcome Bluey, my bicycle, back in to my life and was pleased to see she already had a lovely parking spot in a sheltered area. I couldn’t go out on her in the rain so I tried a couple of metres under cover and I seemed ok. Her brakes still worked and she just need a little bit of air in her tyres so all was good and I looked forward to having a proper go on her the next dry day. I didn’t think I was hungry enough for lunch but then later needed a snack of bread and cashew nuts. Captain Caveman had another Tet party at Mr Sic’s, to attend in Phong Nha, on his way to deliver his Oxalis briefing for his first trip to Son Doong after the Tet holidays.
For my dinner that night I had some chicken masaman curry and a Snickers for dessert.
I had something to be really thankful for today too; my parents had their first dose of the Corona vaccine today. Their second dose was scheduled for May, so just short of 3 months later, meaning they should be as fully protected as possible by the end of May. This gave me hope that I might be able to see them this year so I went online to do the calculation of when I would be able to have the vaccine if I was in the UK. I wouldn’t be due until July for the first one, meaning October for the 2nd and able to go about my ‘normal’ activity by November. Hopefully I would be able to get it quicker in Vietnam so that I could get back sooner, but if not there was hope I could be with my family by Christmas, all being well. As I was getting ready for bed it dawned on me that maybe Captain Caveman had brought Bluey, the bike, back for a reason! I’d consumed a lot more than I should have lately and, if I was going to loose the last few kilogrammes in readiness for a summer body, I’d really better start trying a lot harder!