I’m sat swinging in a hammock. One of my favorite things to do. I signal to the woman whose property this is that I would like some food. She speaks barely a word of English so I use the universal sign language that’s worked in most countries for me by pretending one hand is a bowl of rice and feeding myself with the other. She seems to get the drift and pretty soon wonders back with a cigarette. I wave the offending article away and repeat the sign this time pointing to my cupped hand which is the bowl of rice and repeating the word EAT loudly and slowly as though she is deaf for some reason. She laughs heartily (this happens a lot to me for some reason) and then rushes off still laughing to return with an ashtray. After several attempts at doing chicken impersonations and rubbing my stomach (which I later found out in Vietnam means I need the toilet) I finally found an app that told me the words thuc an means food and off she runs to slaughter and prepare a fresh chicken for me.
She is know as the Chicken Lady and the farmhouse where I am swinging in one of about a dozen hammocks is known as the Pub With Cold Beer as is on all the hand painted signs I saw on the 2k walk here. I was guided here by the people at the guest house where I was staying but more on that place later. As well as the Chicken Lady there is the husband who speaks just as much English as the woman and two darling little girls who come over to inspect the Yorkshire man who has come to visit. Being used to this I have an app on my phone called Talking Tom Cat which kids of any age or nationality seem to love. I am sure they will be amazed by this piece of technology and after ensuring they knew what to do I gave them a phone while keeping an eye on them. I later found out after eating my freshly killed and cooked chicken that they had quickly dismissed Tom and had gone on to play Candy Crush thereby running my phone battery power down to nearly nil. It wouldn’t surprise me to find they hadn’t been through my email and probably corrected my grammar on my blog while they was at it.
Now onto the place where I stayed in Phong Nha. I don’t normally mention much about the places I stay but this place deserves a mention just as much for its great staff as its great location and price. Situated out in the country side the Phong Nha Lakehouse is right next to the Phong Nha national park and is definitely going to be an up and coming place to go to. I stayed in the dorm, but they also have private room and cottages are being built as is a swimming pool. The first night I go to the restaurant/bar which has a terrace with a great view over the water of the lake and Tony the owner comes over for a chat and him and I spend the rest of the evening having, as we in Yorkshire say a, good skinful and a great night. During my stay there his wife Tam Renewed my visa for me when they traveled to Danang and even gave me the use of there private rooms when business was quiet.
One of the things that really made my stay was the staff. They show a real interest in the customers. During my stay here I would often go swimming in the lake in the morning and again in the afternoon when the weather started to cool down a bit and some of the staff if they had time came swimming too. One of them even took me to the local market where the food for the restaurant was bought. Every so often its good to stand out as the only foreigner and this was one of those times being able to wander about the stalls looking at all the local produce and goods for sale and occasionally talking to the locals.
One of the things that really stands out were a couple of the girls who are really keen to learn and improve there English. So for an hour or so in the morning, afternoon, or evening I would sit with one of them reading from whatever text we could find and improving there pronunciation. They had no teachers or class to go to and were self driven to improve themselves whenever they could. I was really impressed.
The staff and the owners here went out of there way to make me feel welcome and with the sights and the scenery here I really did not want to leave. Thank you all for making a casual stay into one I shall always remember.
Thanks for reading.