Danang & Hoi An – 20th April

Danang & Hoi An – 20th April

As Tatas was only here for a short time, we decided we should make the most of it on Tuesday 20th April and our friends had great recommendations for us. Captain Caveman had returned from Son Doong yesterday but gone back in today and I’d not had chance to speak to him before his next tour. Today the plan was to have a relaxing day at Hoi An Silk Beach Club with Tatas, who was also working while next to the pool. Transport is so much cheaper in Danang than in Phong Nha and was only 200,000vnd (£6.20) from Danang to Hoi An, about 45 minutes away. When we arrived we were the only people there and so we had the pool to ourselves. I was so hungover that I ordered a can of Fanta and some french fries for brunch and I’d forgotten my swimmers. As there was no one around I went swimming in my undies and was able to hoist myself out of the pool relatively ok, but not gracefully.

Once back at Bridges Danang Boutique Hotel we had a shower and change before we went off for a full body massage at Herbal Spa which Kendra had also recommended. The 90 minute aromatherapy full body massage was looking like the best deal for what I wanted and I asked them to concentrate more on my shoulders and feet and they also asked about injuries and pressure which was great as usually massages in Vietnam are brutally strong. There was a special offer on of 150,000vnd (£4.65) for 60 minutes or 240,000vnd (£7.44) for 90 minutes including hot stones if you wanted them (I opted for it without). It was very relaxing and so professional, one of the best massages I’ve ever had and we even got a cute outfit to wear to protect modesty – what a lovely treat!
After the massage we were given free soup, herbal tea and coconut crackers, which you could also buy and were gluten free. I was so relaxed that I felt like going back to the hotel to go to bed but we had plans for Tatas’ last night of her mini-break. I made a note to self that I definitely would be staying off the alcohol tonight though!

After the 3rd shower of the day at the hotel, we were off out for dinner. It was Tatas’ last night so she got to choose where she would like to eat. We arrived at The Nomad Kitchen in An Thuong and ordered some drinks while looking at the menu. It was a shame that I’d decided not to drink as they had some decent wine for a good price.
For my dinner I had the fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce for 110,000vnd (£3.40) and it was absolutely amazing. Tatas had a buffalo dinner, while the rest of the table had dishes which included a side order of buffalo, bacon croquettes, and falafel salad. The food was really good and Daniel, the chef, is incredibly skilled. When a couple of us ordered the white chocolate tart for dessert I asked if I could have an extra price of fish for my pudding instead, it was that good and even came with extra vinegar. I could only drink sparkling water as I was honestly begging for mercy, I needed to remember I am much older than all of these party animals! Tonight I remembered that the AC needs to be turned on again after taking out the key card and I settled down for a relatively early night about 11.30pm, while Tatas carried on her night at Oi bar, Emma’s and Shamerock. Tomorrow Tatas and I would be checking out of this lovely hotel but only she was off back to Phong Nha – I had more adventures planned!

Phong Nha – 11th February (Tet eve)

Phong Nha – 11th February (Tet eve)

Tet Eve fell on Thursday 11th February this year and it started with 5am announcements and loud music, which went on until 7.30am.
Captain Caveman had to go to Oxalis Home for 7.30am and so he agreed to meet me at the Farmstay at 10.15am for our exciting outing. As it turned out Captain Caveman got back early and I got to go to the Farmstay on the back of his motorbike in my new helmet, which was really snazzy. Ben had organised a trip to the Pub with Cold Beer for lunch and a few of us went up in the jeep while Matty, Chris (the Belgian guest) and Veronika rode their motorbikes there.
Ben was driving, Howie was in the front, in the middle was a nice family and in the back with me and Captain Caveman was Catherine and her son. When we arrived we had a quick look around the kitchen and then the food was served. We ate BBQ chicken with peanut sauce, steamed rice, morning glory, pork, and spring rolls which was all so delicious. I even drank Huda beer, went on the swing and chatted a lot with Catherine who was so funny. Captain Caveman and some of the others went in the incredibly well- maintained swimming pool and the food was very good value for money – we even bought some peanut sauce to take home. When we got back to the Farmstay I decided to walk it home, I had my poles and Captain Caveman had a beer to give me a headstart. I managed to get home in 35 minutes and quite a while before Captain Caveman made it back (I suspect he may have had a second beer) because he expected me to take longer. I had a bit of pain but it went after ibuprofen and a short rest so I was pleased with that. In just 1 month I had managed the same journey 8 minutes quicker but I still wasn’t as fast as a 74 year old, who can do it in 20 minutes.
I’d been waiting to hear that it was ok to call my parents so I could get an update on how Dad was doing, after a hospital visit yesterday and the news was good. It was really nice to have a laugh with ma and pa over video call and see that they looked really well and quite relaxed which was so good. Music, karaoke and bombs (fireworks are banned in Vietnam) were to be heard until 1.30am and I was getting quite good at staying in the house for new year’s celebrations now and quite enjoyed being antisocial.

Here’s a couple of video clips of our trip on Facebook courtesy of Matty & Ben;

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2860937884224294&id=100009243321087

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4270275809653671&id=148614098486550&sfnsn=mo

Phong Nha – 7th February

Phong Nha – 7th February

I was woken up by Captain Caveman’s loud sneeze at 6.45am on Sunday 7th February. I didn’t get back to sleep and only an hour after he had left to go to Phong Nha, the housekeeping knock came for cleaning our room. I ate bread and butter and an apple for breakfast then sipped jasmine tea in the living room.
Captain Caveman picked up our order from Vananh, and he also brought back gluten free biscotti made by LyLy which was amazing! Our hummus order looked great and also contained some mung bean chips a couple of gluten free cookies to try and some chocolate protein balls for when I get peckish.
I had a bad stomach (again!) In the afternoon and so ended up having crisps and diet coke before my evening meal.

When we went up to the Farmstay for Sunday dinner our new motorbike helmets from Saigon had arrived and they were really snazzy. Captain Caveman went in the sauna while I chatted to Veronika and some guests who were staying at The Villas. It was a warm evening, everyone was sitting outside and Phong Nha Farmstay was quite busy – it was nice to see the pool with guests in too. The Sunday dinner of roast pork, lamb, pasta bake, roast potatoes, vegetables and thick gravy was extremely tasty and of course we couldn’t miss the included beverage and cake. We had the house red wine, which is a substantial portion and while the others had chocolate fondant cake I went for the carrot cake this time and it was fantastic – the whole deal cost just 300,000vnd and, as always, definitely worth it!

If you want to buy a safe and snazzy motorbike helmet I can highly recommend Saigon Motorcycles, they are very helpful and were able to deliver to Phong Nha within a week! Here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaigonMotorcyclehireandsales/