My 2nd flight, from Singapore to Istanbul on Wednesday 22nd September, was at 1.45am, had no more than 30 people on and only 1 person, that I saw, in business class. I had last slept in a bed on Sunday night and even though I’d had a couple of nodding offs, I still was so tired. We all got a row of 3 seats to ourselves, on the Singapore Airlines flight, with pillow, blankets and plenty of food, drink and snacks. Service was excellent and the 2 red wines I had were very pleasant. I used to look forward to watching a film on a flight but I didn’t find any that looked worth watching or any I had heard of so I had a little nap, at last!
Before we landed I checked with staff on the flight from Singapore about my luggage and they also said I had to clear immigration and pick up the luggage at Istanbul, before getting the domestic flight. We landed 30 minutes late because of a dead carcass on the runway and couldn’t disembark for another 15 minutes after we stopped, luckily I had booked on the later flight to Dalaman anyway so I wasn’t rushing. Once in Istanbul airport everything was busy and like Covid didn’t exist and it felt quite overwhelming. It seems most people, if they do wear a mask, only cover their mouth and there is no adherence to social distancing whatsoever. There was even a train that had that annoying Baby Shark song on a loop while transporting families up and down the terminal, which I really could have done without. As advised by check-in back in Hanoi I tried to collect my luggage but was told it had been booked all the way through, which is what Captain Caveman and I had thought would happen. It was a long walk to the domestic transfer, I was slow, my ankle was giving me some gyp and when I got there they asked me if I had collected my luggage and rechecked in. I left not knowing whether my suitcase would be there or not. I decided to book the Turkish Airlines lounge for $18 and had snacks and soft drinks, water, tea/coffee. I tried to get a wine, not realising it was only the morning and that they didn’t even do alcohol but got directed to the tea and coffee facilities by a kind member of staff. The social distancing was better, signs saying if you touch it you take it on the food, toilets good and you get straight to the gate without any hassle.
My last flight, Istanbul to Dalaman, was very full and, although when the flight attendants gave a meal and drink out they asked people to not take masks off everyone at once, they did. I didn’t eat or drink and took my picnic in my bag to have later. When I landed at my final destination, Dalaman, there was no luggage but a helpful member of staff came to find me and asked me to follow him through a door to international arrivals to check if this was my case, and it was – that was fortuitous!
I walked outside and my driver was waiting for me with a sign with my name on, the air was hot, sunny and dry as we walked to Sonuç’s car. I was looking forward to getting ‘home’, after 48 hours in my mask, letting everyone know I had arrived and getting some much needed sleep!
The driver helped me with my luggage up the stairs to Captain Caveman’s apartment in Dalyan and the fare cost me 240 Turkish Lira (approx £20), apparently it’s cheaper to get a taxi at the airport but I knew if I didn’t have enough cash on me I could pay later. I was looking forward to getting in, letting Captain Caveman know I’d arrived, having a shower and bed, even though it was only the afternoon! Unfortunately, none of those things were about to happen in the short term. My friend, Leanne, had got me a welcome pack of provisions in and popped on the AC so it was a pleasant welcome back and I had some cold water to drink. Of course, my Vietnamese phone stopped working as soon I left Vietnam and I didn’t yet have a Turkish SIM card to replace it, I’ve not been in the UK for 3 years and so I no longer have my other phone number either. I was hoping the internet would be on but unfortunately it wasn’t working and I promised I would let Captain Caveman know when I arrived ‘home’. If I went to bed I would probably sleep for a long time and so I chose to rectify the internet situation first. I decided to go to a nearby empty bar where I could use their internet to contact Leanne to find out more about the internet, I walked to Heybe which is a short distance from our apartment and as I approached I noticed a couple of people I recognised, Angela and Nick, who saw me as I spotted them. I was masked up but of course no one else was and it turns out masks aren’t compulsory in Dalyan. I told them my issue and we got the WiFi password, Leanne had already been trying to get in touch to tell me she couldn’t connect the internet without my phone number and a physical look at my passport and that I needed to go to Captainnet office before 6pm. I messaged Captain Caveman to tell him I arrived and to confess that I was accidentally already in a bar, now with a cold Efes beer in front of me, courtesy of Nick. Before I had drank 1 beer I had also met the owner of the bar, Donny, a singer called Onur, the owner of a new restaurant and had the pleasure to witness a gang of shirtless lads from Dublin who had just arrived for a holiday! I went back home to get some money and my passport, then walked all the way to the other side of Dalyan town to update the internet. While in there the staff wore masks but the Turkish customers sat drinking coffee so had their masks down under their chin. On the walk back my ankle was feeling sore and was very swelled up, I also noticed the local police all had their masks under their chin or worn as an armband on their elbow – maybe it was a new fashion! As I got back to Heybe’s Maddie had finished work and had come to join everyone, surprised to see me, so I had another beer and agreed to go get a burger for dinner with everyone, from a new (to me) place called Wonky’s. I went for a bacon burger but it came without the bacon and I forgot to ask for it without the sauce, which had chillies in. Even after avoiding the sauce, we all discovered the burgers had chillies in, they were good but I’m allergic to chillies so I didn’t eat it all. Onur had chosen a really good mixed pizza and I had a slice of that too, I enjoyed it. While in there, a few people I knew came over to me asking why I had my mask on and telling me they can’t catch it because they have been double jabbed. Another friend said there was no need for me to have my mask on as it’s safe here! I was in shock to meet some people who think they can’t catch the virus and spread it if they’ve had the vaccine. I was genuinely worried that I should be trying to keep away from people until but it was a bit difficult to do, the town felt very busy to me, compared with Phong Nha, Vietnam. My friend Jamie arrived and we had a glass of wine before heading off to Lukka for a quiet wine there where we started planning stuff, it felt so good to see him after all this time and to actually be able to plan ahead a bit. I finally got back home, the internet was working, I had a 2nd dinner and watched an episode of Sex Education before bed. It had been a very long day and I was ready to have an extra long lay in tomorrow!