Dalyan – 25th & 26th April

Dalyan – 25th & 26th April

I had a croissant for breakfast on Monday 25th April and was extra tired from not getting much sleep. I’d still got the winter quilt on so it was a tad warm and I’d slept in the spare room because of the handle coming off the ensuite bathroom in the main bedroom. I was meant to go over to collect my stuff from Mark and Kate’s house today but I couldn’t be bothered, instead I went to get some essentials from the supermarket. I had a simit and cheese spread for lunch and didn’t do much else really. I booked in for Pilates tomorrow and I got news that a friend was arriving in Dalyan on Thursday so I needed a couple of days off, in readiness for more shenanigans which I imagined could get messy. For dinner I had a cup of Yorkshire tea and some pasta with Turkish sausage and pesto sauce, then for afters a Bounty chocolate bar. It was nice to be home where I could relax completely for a couple of days.

It was another easy day on Tuesday 26th April, there was meant to be a power outage in the afternoon but it never happened. My parents were staying in with a slow cooker meal that night too and it was my first time at a new Pilates class. I had Christmas cake with cheese on for breakfast and loved it. In the afternoon I walked over to Mark and Kate’s to collect the rest of my stuff and Bluey2. When I arrived they were eating the leftover Chinese meal which was quite a few days old and asked if I wanted to share it. I declined as I could see it wouldn’t sit well with my stomach and I chatted with them while Kate instructed Mark on how to warm up food in an oven, the correct way! News came that masks for the under 65s in shops and public buildings were no longer compulsory in Turkey so I was slightly concerned that there could be an increased risk of catching the virus.
Before I cycled Bluey2 back home, Mark and I arranged to meet at Okyanus for a beer in the sun before the pilates class at The Room Dalyan. Our friend met us at the class and it was definitely more difficult than I anticipated. My bad leg still wouldn’t allow for certain positions but the sciatic nerve pain I’d had seemed to benefit from the stretches. I was surprised to see how good at pilates Mark was, he was pretty flexible (for a Tuesday)! After the class, Mark went home with indigestion and I met up with Drew, Ann, Sarah, her friend and Katrina at Lukka bar to say bye to Drew. He was off back to the UK and so I had a glass of wine to see him and Sarah’s mate off. After hugging and kissing Drew goodbye I went home to have a mystery meal I’d got out of the freezer earlier, it turned out to be teryaki chicken so I was lucky to have cooked rice with it. Tomorrow’s plan was to attend a big celebration for Dutch King’s Day at Waterfall bar which I’d been invited to by a couple of Dutch friends.

Dalyan – 16th & 17th April

Dalyan – 16th & 17th April

On Saturday 16th April I got up fairly early and went out to the market. First, I cycled over to my parents’, put some of my stuff away and went to make up the spare bed so I could stay there when I needed to. Bluey2 was doing really well cycling on the Dalyan roads now and I was enjoying being able to ride about like a local. I was in a rush at the Dalyan market today because I’d planned to meet Jamie for lunch but I bumped in to quite a few friends and got talking. In the end I bought just a few bits and went back to my mom’s to put stuff in the fridge.
I met Jamie at Porta Dalya where he was nursing a hangover after a boat trip with Turgay yesterday, who also rocked up to say a quick hello. The restaurant had no pasta left so Jamie had a pizza and I had chicken breast and chips which was tasty but it wasn’t our favourite chicken alfredo. It was good to see Jamie back in town and have a brief catch up but we both had prior engagements to attend in the afternoon. I met Vanessa, Jackie and Tracey at Rehab bar and the usual pool games were underway. When everyone had gone I sat and had a good chat with Jackie and Chris, we had more drinks and then found ourselves going for a bit of an impromptu dinner at River House.  At River House Chris ordered liver and onions, Jackie had the chicken with almonds and I had chicken with halloumi. Jackie and I also shared a carafe of white wine, the food and wine was reasonably priced and we all enjoyed it. Kate messaged to tell me she had made me a treat and wanted to know if I was coming back to their’s. Not wanting to miss out on anything, and while it was still daylight, I set off on Bluey2 and just made it to Mark and Kate’s as it went dark. I was excited to find that Kate had made proper Cornish pasties which were fantastic, she’d made me some curry paste too and had got the fruit soaking in readiness for Christmas cake making tomorrow.

I decided to cycle Bluey2 to town on the morning of Sunday 17th April. Kate was up and about early with her usual routine of cats and plants, Mark was still in bed. 
I had more visitors to Dalyan who had brought me some treats out which I was very grateful for; Yorkshire tea, a bottle of Silent Pool Gin and some slow cooker sachets. The day started with us going out to get some milk at about 2pm. Having waited ages for the washing machine to stop and it didn’t, we left it and went for a late lunch with wine at Bistro Blue. It had only recently opened for the season so it was nice to see Selahı and Annie again. I had the beef fajita wrap, my fellow diners had the warm liver and onion salad and we all had a couple of glasses of wine. Next we went to River Terrace where we had beers and one of the party got confused when returning from the toilet and couldn’t find her way out to the bar. She ended up slipping out the back exit and walking round on the road, which made for much amusement for the rest of us. Mark and Kate came to join us and we decided to go to Yener’s Place for dinner. I stuck to beer as the wine was very pricey at 370 lira (£20) for a bottle of red wine, but the food wasn’t bad. I couldn’t eat all my İskender kebab so took half home, the others had casserole, beef fajitas, lamb shank and chicken with pineapple. It was a lovely night and I appreciated Kate making the effort to come out to meet my visitors as they had not yet met. By 10.30pm Mark, Kate and I were back at their house where Kate had made 4 Christmas cakes. She gave me one which was really kind and meant Mark wouldn’t have to be mardy about me eating any of his.

Dalyan – 14th & 15th April

Dalyan – 14th & 15th April

It was all go on Thursday 14th April; I was awake at 7.30am, Captain Caveman had a friend staying at his apartment, my parents don’t have WiFi yet so I had temporarily moved back to Mark and Kate’s house. The sun was out and it was Easter weekend so things were busying up in Dalyan now. Before 10am I had booked our lodger a taxi, discussed ingredients of a recipe with Kate, borrowed a bicycle pump from Mark and walked home, while noticing that Alegria restaurant was back open. When I got home I tried to pump up Bluey2’s tyres but the pump broke meaning I would have to walk today. I was moving all my stuff that I couldn’t leave in a cupboard at Captain Caveman’s to my parents’ place so that I could stay there when I didn’t need to use a strong internet connection. I packed up lots of things, including the entire contents of the fridge freezer. I had pasta for breakfast then walked all my stuff over to my parents’ in the hot sun. The pool guy was there cleaning their pool ready to fill it up with water. By 5pm, I took the last of my stuff to my parents’ place and I was off to meet Debbie (Darling) and Sarah at Sofra bar ‘for one’. When I returned to pick up Bluey2, Mark had already stopped by while I was out and pumped up my tyres with another pump. I went to the bank to get money from my English card and there was a lot of people complaining that the bank wouldn’t let them use their foreign cards, mine wouldn’t work either. For some, the limit per day to withdraw from our Turkish banks had been reduced to only 300 lira (£16) which was pretty low and concerning.
After a couple of pints of draught lager, I made it back to Mark and Kate’s. It was just before dark and I saw a dog waiting outside the gate. He looked like he wanted to be friends, possibly with the cats. There was also a stork in the garden which had recently been soaked with the hosepipe. We had some red wine and Mark prepared us a cheese platter for a late dinner.

I woke up coughing on Friday 15th April and thought I may have Corona. I did a test and waited for the result with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea. I had some strawberries with yoghurt for breakfast and got a message from Ann to say she had some symptoms but was negative. My results also came back negative and I went to go about my day, I was using the spare room as my office. For lunch I had a crisp sandwich and then helped Mark with a tree he was trimming. He was using a saw on a palm tree and making it look like hard work. I found 2 axes in the shed and suggested we used those instead. Later I sat in the garden with a beer and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine.

Dalyan – 9th April

Dalyan – 9th April

I could easily have stayed in bed all day on Saturday 9th April. I had overdone things yesterday and was begging for mercy but I had arranged to take my visiting friends to the market. I couldn’t stomach any breakfast and Kate had already fed the cats before I got out of bed. What I didn’t realise is that Casha had not been home yet. After helping put the bike together in the kitchen and 2 cups of Yorkshire tea, I got a lift from Mark. He dropped me at Jiks where Louisa and family were waiting in the sunny garden at the back. Jiks is always busy on a Saturday so they had to wait for drinks then we finally set off to the market. On the way there, Louisa filled me in on any gaps in my memory from last night’s shenanigans. It was going to be a long day and my hangover wasn’t helping. At the market I bought some strawberries which had gone down to 35 lira (£1.82) then we had a bit of a wander around the other stalls. My friends tried, and bought, a few sweet treats and had a browse for a sun hat. This was the first week I’d seen the market back to it’s full compliment of stalls, including Musti, one of my favourites.
We both bought a purse as I’ve been after one for ages, mine was a Hermes and Louisa wasn’t sure at first. She went back to get the one she liked after we all had a pancake. The purses were great value for around £20 each and my old purse needed replacing. I knew the pancake would give me a dodgy stomach so I only ate a bit then took the rest as a takeaway. After the market we all walked through town and to Rehab bar where the pool gang were playing. Linda and Louisa were still in pursuit of a lamb shish for dinner so I messaged Donny at Heybe’s to check if they had some available that night. When I arrived everyone was already seated with a drink and I apologised for both my hungover state today and our drunkenness last night. I ordered İskender kebab, Alex chose a pizza, Louisa had the lamb shish but Linda decided to go with a lamb tandır. Before the food came I got a message from Kate to say that her favourite cat, Casha, still hadn’t come home and she was very worried. She’d looked everywhere, had called her but there was no sign. I enjoyed my food but had to take half home and Alex loved his pizza. Linda said her’s was nice too but had expected it might come on skewers, like the lamb shish did. While we were at Heybe’s there was a power cut so our Algerian waitress told us a ghost story of the mountain with no name. It had been a long day and I vowed not to drink that much again! I was so happy to be back home and in my own bed tonight, for a change!

Dalyan – 7th April

Dalyan – 7th April

I’d took the liberty of booking appointments at BC Spa on Thursday 7th April. It’s always nice for the first day of the holiday to get a Turkish hamam where they scrub you down. I’d booked Louisa, Linda and Alex in for the Classic package while I had decided to book in for waxing. I’d opted for 10.30am as I thought that my friends might need a bit of a lay in on their first full day in Dalyan. I had been greeted by the kittens knocking off and smashing a small bowl as I came out of my bedroom this morning. I put it on the side and took a photo to show Kate in case it was important, or she wanted to fix or replace it. I cycled over to Captain Caveman’s apartment on Kate’s whizzy electric bicycle and parked it up inside the complex.
When we got to the spa the owner was pleased to see us and she even gave me a hug. We each got ready and she said to me that I would also have the classic package because it would be better for my skin for the waxing. Our first experience was the steam room, the sauna was not working so we spent quite a while in the steam room which was nice. There was just the 4 of us there and the hamam ladies came to get 2 of us. I offered to go with Alex so that Louisa and Linda could go together but it’s just as well that I didn’t. When it was my turn to go in with Louisa we realised it was a naked one. We did have a chuckle at that, as Alex and Linda didn’t mention that to us when they went first. It felt great but I really had to tell her to stop when she touched my sunburned belly. After steaming, scrubbing and a mud face mask we had a lovely back massage and I fell asleep. Next I had the thrilling experience of having a leg and bikini wax while wearing a rather tight, and still wet, swimming costume. The lady didn’t want me to remove it but I’d already got it half way down. Embarrassingly, she had to stand and wait while I had the awkward situation of trying to get back in to a wet swimsuit. I then had to endure a wedgie and pull my cozzie to the sides while stretching the skin on my thighs – it was thorough but rather more participation that I had imagined. When we came out of the changing rooms I noticed I had lost Mark and Kate’s house keys. I couldn’t think where I had left them but in the morning I had been to several places on my way to meet for the spa, all of which didn’t have my keys.
We decided on Okyanus for lunch, which is near to BC Spa and on the way back to mine. We had a nice sunny table by the river and ordered food and drinks as we were all hungry. Louisa and I left Linda and Alex to pop our bags back home, get a hoodie for when the sun went in and I could check for Mark and Kate’s house keys. The keys were still missing and I could now only hope that I had managed to leave them in their house when I left. I had a cherry juice and a chicken wrap for lunch but then decided I would cycle back to try to locate the keys.
This was my first ‘issue’ in the house sitting stint and they were due home tomorrow!

As I approached the door to Mark and Kate’s house, I really hoped that my keys would be there. Luckily, I had been able to get the emergency key so that I could still access the house. I was so relieved to see they were on the dining table, I’d obviously forgot them that morning when I was rushing to go out. I fed the cats early and went back to town again because I’d arranged to meet Louisa, Linda and Alex at the Rum Bar at 6pm for pre-dinner cocktails.
I was the first to arrive, surprisingly I was 5 minutes early, so I ordered a Pina Colada cocktail while I waited. I also found the yoga class timetable for Linda who had mentioned she might like to do some while she was here. Linda is more of a morning person than Louisa and likes to have something to do so I thought it might be a nice idea. My friends arrived a bit later, by which time I was ready for my second cocktail which was a Hurricane, Louisa had a Mermaid Water, Linda a G&T, and Alex a Strawberry Kiss (mocktail). For dinner that evening we had decided to go to Kebapçı Yusuf because I’d said that my mom loves the lamb there.
I ordered meatballs for my meal, but the lamb shish that the others wanted wasn’t available. Of course they were disappointed but instead, Linda had the lamb chops, Louisa a chicken shish and Alex just had Lahmacun as a main course. Lahmacun is a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat, minced vegetables, and herbs including onions, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, and parsley, flavoured with spices such as chillies and paprika, then baked. The food was nice and we ended up having a dessert; I had künefe which is made with string pastry (shredded wheat or kadayıf) soaked in sweet sugar syrup and creamy, unsalted goat’s cheese inside. Mostly popular in the Arab world, the Turkish version hails from Hatay, a region that borders Syria. My friends shared a Katmer which is also known as ‘Groom Katmer,’ the groom’s father would send a helping of katmer to the house of the newlyweds and the bride’s father on the first morning of the wedding. Although it’s known to be prepared in a similar manner to a börek or baklava, this pastry is made via the lamination of the dough. It has that same flaky, buttery feel of a croissant but far sweeter and with a pistachio coat.
It was a good evening and I got my taxi back ‘home’ around 11pm. Tomorrow marked the end of my cat sitting 10 days as Mark and Kate were due back, as long as the flight still went ahead. Due to staff shortages lots of flights from the UK were being cancelled so I was already on standby to stay longer if needed. This was no problem for me as Captain Caveman had a friend staying at his apartment and it would be doing me a favour too.

Dalyan – 6th April

Dalyan – 6th April

I fed all the cats and checked that last night’s Manchester to Dalaman flight had landed on Wednesday 6th April. Although it had been delayed slightly, I worked out that my friends from Sheffield would have arrived at about 3am. My friend Louisa and her mom, Linda, who I had been on holiday with several times before, were visiting Dalyan for a week. I was really excited as I’d not been able to see them at Christmas due to the Corona virus and it was 2018 when I last saw them. Louisa’s nephew, Alex, would be joining us on this first trip to Dalyan so I hoped there would be enough for them to do to keep a teenager entertained. I cycled over to Captain Caveman’s apartment where I had my breakfast, a Turkish bread with jam which I bought at Merhaba cafe yesterday.
At 11.15 Louisa had messaged to say she had arrived, they were shattered and had been cold in the night. I’d arranged to meet them at Lukka bar after my Turkish class but the lesson was cancelled. Instead, I waited in Lukka with a cider for the 3 of them to join me. It was great to see Louisa, Linda and Alex and they were lucky to have got nice weather as we sat out at Lukka and ordered food. Linda and Alex ordered breakfast meals, Louisa a crispy chicken dish and I had a chicken caesar salad. All the food was very nice but Linda didn’t have a big enough appetite to eat the chips which came with her sausage, bacon and egg sandwich.
After lunch we went for a short walk around Dalyan so I could show my friends where the essential places were; the bank, pharmacy, supermarkets, bakery, my favourite bars and restaurants. I pointed out a few key places then we ended up at Tez bar for an afternoon drink before I had to get back to Mark and Kate’s to feed the cats and water the plants.

That evening I had organised for us to go for a Chinese meal at China Town and had invited some friends to join us. I got a taxi in to town and was outside the restaurant just before the arranged meeting time of 7.30pm. Andrea was the first to arrive and had come without her husband who was suffering with a cold at home. We waited outside for a bit but then decided to go in to wait as the mosquitos were starting to come out. Andrea and I sat opposite each other at the end of the table, away from the window, to allow my friends to sit next to the window where there was a view of the river. Sarah was the next to arrive and sat next to me. By the time Louisa, Linda and Alex arrived it was too dark to see the view anyway so it didn’t really matter about the seating. I shared a special fried rice with Andrea, ordered sweet and sour chicken and prawn toast. Andrea ordered a chicken dish, Linda opted for Szechuan chicken, Louisa got introduced to half portion ordering by Sarah. I enjoyed my food and took some home, it was a nice first evening and Andrea was giving some ideas of things Linda and Alex might like to do while they are here. It was a long day and I was certainly ready for bed – we had a very chilled day planned for tomorrow.

Dalyan – 5th April

Dalyan – 5th April

Tuesday 5th April was the day I got my 5th Corona vaccine! I got up, fed the cats, had buttered toast for breakfast then cycled to the doctor’s. It was good to be able to cycle all the way there on the new road and without having to walk on a building site. I had to wait only 5 minutes and I was done. My first 2 vaccines were in Vietnam but were over 7 months ago so no longer valid for returning to Vietnam. My next 2 vaccines were in Turkey 6 and 5 months ago so I hoped that this booster would enable me to travel to Vietnam. It was possible that I may even need to have had another one to be able to go to another country outside of Vietnam so I was taking no chances.
I managed today’s Worldle game in one guess and went back to Captain Caveman’s to check on things. That afternoon I cycled to Singing group and ordered a kiwi cheesecake for lunch. It was a small gathering today and I was hoping to pick some good songs to sing. Unfortunately, the group were not all as happy with my ambitious choices. ‘Labelled with Love’ by Squeeze was more difficult than I bargained for and when I chose ‘Hotel California’ people weren’t as excited as I hoped. By the time my last requested song of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was underway I thought some members weren’t too pleased with my song choices. At one point Richard started playing ‘Losing my Religion’ by REM and I sang along a bit as I’m a fan of it. We didn’t sing much of it, though, because the protocol for a new song submission had not been followed – maybe next week!
At 4pm I cycled over to Captain Caveman’s apartment, parked up the bicycle and walked to meet Ann at River House. When I arrived she was sat on a bench outside the restaurant, waiting for me. We ate complimentary mezes, Ann ordered the halloumi chicken and I had a chicken shish. I had a beer, she had a wine and we chatted about her forthcoming trip to see her daughter in England. The meal was very nice and we were full when we got given complimentary cake.
I was home in time for cat feeding and was still not feeling any side effects of the vaccine, compared to what I had done on the previous 4. By 8pm the Life fits into Home app was updated with my booster vaccine information. I was feeling sleepy, my friends were on their flight from Manchester to Dalaman and I was excited to be seeing them tomorrow after several years apart.

Dalyan – 3rd & 4th April

Dalyan – 3rd & 4th April

After feeding the cats on Sunday 3rd April I got back in bed, Casha came for her usual snuggles. I was pleased that we were half way through my stay and I had not had to resort to wearing Kate’s dressing gown. It was another hot sunny day but I was going to have to stay indoors today. My stomach, which now resembled a badly cooked roast pork joint, was very painful. I’d had suncream on but it must have sweated off because this was the first time I’d burnt my stomach like this. I just had toast for breakfast and wasn’t feeling hungry. When Kate messaged to ask how the cats were I had to ask if she had anything more industrial for severe sunburn and a search for tea tree cream began.
After all of the cats went out to play I decided to do some washing, then clean and tidy the living area of the house. I was finding that my eczema was flaring up a bit due to the cat hair. For lunch I had a sandwich but I still didn’t feel very hungry.
In the afternoon a Casha imposter almost fooled me in to letting it in to the house but Kylie noticed and saw the cat off. We had a bit of fun on the shaded terrace with a cat toy. Kylie started playing then Squeak joined in, it became a ‘winner stays on’ game while JC took the umpire role. When I left them to it, to start doing the hoovering, they managed to break the toy to get the balls out.
By the end of the day the living room, kitchen and dining area looked spick and span, all the washing was done and most of it dry already. I was tired, my belly was still sore but the tea tree cream had started to help. I had red wine and chocolate for dinner before planning for when my friends arrived in a few days. The weather forecast was looking good and I hoped they would enjoy their first visit to Dalyan.

After tea and toast for breakfast on Monday 4th April I had a walk to the jetty with JC and Kylie. I logged on to my laptop and was ready for a productive day.
The news reported of mass testing in China as conditions got out of hand again with Corona, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220404/china-sends-military-doctors-to-shanghai-to-test-26-million-residents-for-covid/66468.html
I was constantly checking on how the virus status was in Vietnam because I intended to go there in a month or two. The Vietnamese news said there was still no Omicron XE in Vietnam, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20220404/vietnam-yet-to-record-new-omicron-variant-xe-health-ministry/66474.html
Casha, the cat, had been out all night but came home mid morning for a delayed breakfast and to teach the kittens how to drink from the dirty pool. By 3pm, my laptop was away, I was on a sun lounger, but with skin covered, having a cold beer. By 4pm the cats wanted attention and joined me. Kylie was on the top of the sex swing, Squeak was on my sunbed, then JC tried to get on too.

That evening I was invited out with Vanessa, Matt and their neighbour, Tracey, to LeyLey restaurant. They had hired a car for when family visited this week and so a run out was a great idea. It was mine and Tracey’s first visit to LeyLey and it didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed the bread, stuffed mushrooms and chicken shish with a red wine. The setting is really lovely and we had a walk around the place. I had a lovely time and would definitely go again. I had an early night ready for the rest of what would be a busy week.

Dalyan – 1st & 2nd April

Dalyan – 1st & 2nd April

Having consumed a massive amount of calories in the previous week, it was good to see the scales had been kind to me on Friday 1st April. I had lost 1kg, I still had to lose at least 3kg but I had friends and family visiting this month so I wasn’t optimistic. My legs were back to having 1cm difference in the good and bad legs again, but I wasn’t sure why.
I didn’t bother with breakfast because I needed to get the cats fed and do some work before my lunch appointment. I had said I would meet Vanessa and Matt in town. When I arrived Vanessa and Matt’s bikes were outside Rehab bar but it was closed, so I walked over to meet them at nearby Rodrigo bar. They were sat on a building site, Matt with a beer and Vanessa with a soft drink. I had a coke and a few of their nibbles before Vanessa and I decided to go for some lunch. Matt had got word from the pool fellas that they had an alternative venue and he would move my (Kate’s) bicycle for me. A couple of concrete lorries had arrived on bar street so we were concerned the bikes may get stuck in. Vanessa and I decided to eat at River House, where she had a burger and chips and I had a Turkish sausage pide. The food was nice and we enjoyed sitting in the sun before walking back to Rehab to collect our bikes, pop to Migros for a few provisions then cycle to Mark and Kate’s for a bit of relaxing. We had a lovely afternoon chatting and we had intended to have a bubble bath as Mark and Kate have 2 jacuzzi baths. We had a few wines and a sandwich but the night ended with a power cut. It was the whole area, not just the house and we were lucky that Kate had lots of strategically placed tea-lights about the place. Vanessa and I moved outside by the pool with our drinks and sat ‘romantically’ in the candlelight. It wasn’t too long before we realised we were pretty tired and were going to have an early night!

When I woke up on Saturday 2nd April, it was before my alarm to feed the cats. Vanessa was fast asleep and snoring so I crept out of bed to check on the pets. All were pleased to see me and couldn’t wait to get some food. When Vanessa got up she decided to make us some toast and because the toaster burned all of the slices she put in, I thought we might need a new toaster. I was on the phone to Captain Caveman who was out of the cave but going straight back in again and was doing a lot of tours without breaks. I had burnt toast and a croissant for my breakfast with a Yorkshire tea then we decided to sit by the pool and enjoy the sunshine. I put on factor 50 suncream and we lay on the sunbeds for quite a while. We sat chatting for hours and then decided a wine would be a good idea. When we eventually got to Rehab bar to join the pool group we were a little bit sunburned. We sat outside with Tayfur, who ordered us a pide from Pamukkale restaurant, and we met some nice Dutch people. We ate our lunch, which came with a mixed salad and pomegranate sauce – it was very nice. I cycled home at a reasonable hour, after just a couple of shandies, so that I could feed the cats and water the plants. My sunburn was really bad so I slathered moisturiser on my stomach and ordered a taxi with Fikri. I’d invited Ann, Penny, Phil, Sarah, Rach and Vanessa to River Terrace for dinner at 7.30pm with live music. Unfortunately Penny and Phil had declined, with them having plans to go to Fethiye early the next morning. Sarah was unsure if she would make it as she had to work this weekend. I got there early and was surprised to see that Penny and Phil were there, but they weren’t stopping. Vanessa arrived on time and it was filling up nicely. By 7.45pm there was still no sign of Ann or Rach and a big group had just arrived so Vanessa and I ordered food. On Penny’s recommendation we both went for the Carbonara, Ann and Rach arrived and they ordered but were told there would be a wait for food. Vanessa and I had eaten our food by the time Ann got her casserole and Rach her burger. Vanessa and I also started to feel like we may have sunstroke and my belly was very burnt. I finished off Vanessa’s carbonara and had chocolate brownie with ice-cream for afters. Rach had a lovely cheesecake which I tried a bit of. Penny and Phil were still there when we all left around 10pm and the band were still playing some good songs. It was clear that Vanessa and I had overdone the sun and the boozing so we were glad to be going home. On the way out I bumped in to friends who asked how I was getting on with the house sitting. I told them I’d enjoyed the sex swing and was pleased that all plants and cats were still alive thus far. Tonight was the 5th night of Mark and Kate being away so half way through, hopefully things would continue to go well.

Dalyan – 30th & 31st March

Dalyan – 30th & 31st March

My alarm went off at 7am on Wednesday 30th March as it was time to feed the cats. By 8am I had fed all 5, completed Wordle (1&2), Quordle, Worldle, and Nerdle and got ready to go in to town. I was going to be using Kate’s electric bicycle to whizz about on and so I got it out ready. Casha, the oldest cat, came and had some snuggles while the other 4 played outside. At Turkish class we did a more chatty exercise before I went for lunch at Okyanus with Vanessa. I had a lovely chicken wrap and Vanessa had a tuna sandwich, it was good value for money. While Vanessa went to join Matt at Retro bar for pool, I caught up with Ann, Andy, Jo, Angela, Nick and a lady called Irena by the river, in the sun. After, we all ended up at Retro bar and had a good time joining the pool fellas. Chris has the same bike as Kate so was able to tell me how to work the gears. Julie and Gareth were there but, sadly, they were leaving Turkey tomorrow. I stuck to drinking Efes in moderation as I was cycling, we were also told, by the owner of the bar, that prices of drinks were increasing from April. Most people were staying out but Ann and I were sensible as we had pets to feed. I cycled home, sorted out the 5 cats, watered the plants and started watching ‘Pieces of Her’ on Netflix. I ate leftover chicken fried rice and then had cheese on toast for dinner.

I was awake early with my alarm to feed the cats on Thursday 31st March, after which Casha came back to bed with me. She slept for ages on the blanket at the end of the bed as I had buttered toast for breakfast. Unfortunately, the kettle wasn’t working so I didn’t make a cup of tea. I set up my laptop in one of the spare rooms which had a desk and chair – I was looking forward to having a day at my new home.
For lunch I made egg fried rice with sucuk (Turkish sausage) and I popped a Bolognese in the slow cooker, making plenty to keep some in the fridge. I spoke to Captain Caveman and we planned for me to go to Vietnam after the end of May. My mate, Des, who I knew from him working at Momma D’s in Phong Nha, was coming to Dalyan to visit for a month at the end of April which was very exciting. I spoke to my Dad, who’s birthday it was, and I even sang. My parents thought it was hilarious that I was becoming a crazy cat lady just to help out my friends. In the afternoon I had a walk down to the jetty with a glass of wine to admire the view.
That evening, after feeding the cats and watering the plants, I had pasta bolognese, a couple of glasses of red wine and some cheese and crackers. I fell asleep watching more of ‘Pieces of Her’ on Netflix.

Dalyan – 14th & 15th March

Dalyan – 14th & 15th March

There was no madness on Monday 14th March, which made a nice change. I got a message from Captain Caveman and some photos as he, and his colleague, had been on a bike ride in Phong Nha. They were both keen to find out what would happen tomorrow, the official day that Vietnam would open to international tourism. I was still sceptical that it would happen but they were more optimistic.
I read an interesting article from Vietnam, just as I was missing pork:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20220311/ho-chi-minh-city-police-seize-nearly-16-tonnes-of-rotten-pigs/66118.html
I decided to make a teriyaki chicken in the slow cooker, didn’t eat breakfast but made wedges with cheese for lunch. It hurt when I ate or spoke still but my chin was scabbing over now. The bruises on my legs were coming on nicely too. In the afternoon I firmed up a couple of plans for tomorrow; Mark and Kate invited me to their’s and I was going on a bicycle ride with Vanessa and Matt in the morning. We had also been invited to Andy and Julie’s for a get together. Both of these invitations clashed with the singing group but I intended to go to all of them.
For dinner that night I had some of the teriyaki chicken with steamed rice and a chilled glass of rosé wine. It tasted great and I was glad I had made enough to save some for the rest of the week.

Tuesday 15th March was meant to be the day that Vietnam reopened the country to international tourists after 2 years of the pandemic. As can be the case, these things don’t always go exactly as one would expect and I was glad I hadn’t booked on one of the first flights. Despite the country being open, the visa process was still not ideal, with many nationalities still not able to get a visa, and most people struggling to get more than the 2 week exemption for certain nationalities. There was still no official announcement made as to if a 30 day visa on arrival could be obtained and various sources seemed to think we needed to wait a few more days for further updates. There was concern that tourists to Vietnam would book elsewhere and I read this news article:
https://vietnaminsider.vn/complicated-visa-requirements-may-discourage-foreign-tourists-to-vietnam-heres-why/
It was hot in Phong Nha today and Dalyan also had some sunny weather as I got ready for my day out with Vanessa, Matt and Bluey2. I was about to cycle the furthest I’d been, so far in Dalyan, as we set off to Andy and Julie’s house. I met Vanessa at Migros and we stocked up on goodies and wine to take with us, then we went to pick up Matt.
At first I had my coat on but it soon got warm and I had to stop along the way to take it off.
The route was easy and flat so we got there in about 20 minutes, greeted by Andy, Julie and the 2 cute dogs. We had a cup of tea and an array of pastries, biscuits and cakes which I indulged in. I was meant to be leaving in time for the singing group gathering at 2pm but after mention of a potential positive case and the mention of wine I decided not to go. Instead we proceeded to sit in the sun, by the pool chatting, drinking and generally having a good old laugh with fellow northerners!
We cycled home rather merry that afternoon and I was meant to be at Mark and Kate’s already. I grabbed a few things, including potatoes and wine then got a taxi from mine to their’s.
I met the cats; Casha, Kylie, JC, Bubble & Squeak and was pleasantly surprised at how well behaved they were. Especially as I had agreed to house and cat sit Mark and Kate next go back to England. While Mark made sure I had red wine, Kate was keen to feed me a baked potato with various homemade toppings. I’d also taken over some popcorn and we had a great, but drunken night. As it was so late I stayed over, the temperature had really dropped and Mark had to put hot water bottles in the beds. Once in bed, I stayed awake a while, checking for updates on the Vietnam visa situation and hoping for good news.

Dalyan – 11th to 13th March

Dalyan – 11th to 13th March

Friday 11th March started with the obligatory weigh-in and measurement taking. My weight had stayed the same this week, my thighs were now both the same size and were the biggest they had been in almost 2 years but my calves were still 1cm different in size.
I was having buttered toast for breakfast when the workmen turned up, earlier than expected, to continue with the ceilings. I read in the news that China was having a lot of Corona cases again, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220311/china-daily-local-covid-infections-exceed-1000-as-symptomless-cases-spike/66124.html
I decided to go out on a bicycle ride to keep out of the way of the workmen who were making a right old mess. Bluey2 was super whizzy today, I enjoyed a little jaunt around all the back streets and a couple of the more main roads before getting peckish. For a late lunch I had chicken and spinach curry from out of the freezer, with steamed rice before getting ready to go out.
I’d been invited to John’s surprise birthday party, by his wife Andrea. I arrived at Bambi’s around 7.30pm and the place was pretty busy already. I sat with Penny and Phil who were just finishing off their jacket potatoes and I ordered a glass of red wine. There was a lovely buffet on and I wished I’d not already eaten curry but I had a couple of mezes with bread. It was a lovely night with lots of familiar faces in the warmth of the soba. Outside the temperature was very cold and I didn’t relish the walk home so when Penny and Phil were leaving, I felt like getting a lift home would be a good idea. I paid for my 2 wines, which this time were only 40 lira each, instead of 50, and left with Penny. Back home it was very cold as I watched a bit of TV and I had to put the heater on.



On Saturday 12th March I woke up to news that Quang Binh, the province where Captain Caveman lives, had 3271 new positive Corona cases yesterday. This could mean that the proposed resumption of international travel in 3 days time could be in danger of not happening. Obviously, I knew when I left Vietnam in September that it could be a year until I saw Captain Caveman but I hoped it wouldn’t be that long. If Vietnam reopens it could mean I would get a trip to see him, possibly in a couple of months or so. I ate my breakfast of buttered toast before getting ready for something new.
I had organised to attend a Yoga dance event to commemorate international Women’s Day at a place called Spectrum. The location is a stunning retreat almost on the beach road with lovely views. I’d not been before but it’s not far from our friend, Janet’s, house so Vanessa and I arranged to call for her on our way. I called for Vanessa and we cycled about 15 minutes to Janet’s and then on another 5 minutes on to Spectrum. This was the furthest Bluey2 had gone so far and she managed it easily. We were welcomed by Jo, and we waited awhile for everyone else to turn up while admiring the views. Once we got going the yoga dance class was nice, fairly easy to follow, and in Turkish, but the wind was blowing so we all felt cold. We did have some photos taken afterwards as a group and we even asked about some future classes as we were all interested in going along.
On the way back Vanessa and I called in to see Penny and Phil but only Phil was home as we were later than we thought we would be. We dropped our bikes off after that and arranged to meet back up for an afternoon shandy. At home I had some Turkish sausage with cheese rolls for lunch to line my stomach. Captain Caveman was out of the cave and on his way to the Chay Lap gala dinner as I walked round to meet Debbie (Darling), Sarah, Ann, Vanessa, and Rach at Jiks. We had a couple of drinks there, some people had food. I wasn’t going to go to Rehab bar with Vanessa but decided I would, Ann decided to join us and we met Matt, Mark and Kate up there. We had a couple of drinks and I wasn’t really in the mood for stopping out. I’d been chatting to Captain Caveman and his colleague’s wife (Emma) about applying for a visa to go to Vietnam. The idea was to go in the summer but to enter Vietnam you must have had a vaccine within the last 6 months. Emma couldn’t get another booster in England and so asked if I wanted to go earlier. Captain Caveman didn’t have any time off until 20th May so that would be my earliest, which I mentioned to the girls at Rehab.
I decided to leave, Ann came with me as she had only been coming for 1 drink and had her bicycle. She pushed her bike over the rubble and holes of bar street and I suggested we go to the safer path of the river route. I was talking about how a few of us had fallen over recently because of the road works when all of a sudden I tripped over some raised cobbles and hit the floor, really hard. Luckily, I put my hands down but I cut my chin and I was quite shook up. I wasn’t drunk as I’d only had a couple of wine and sodas, we weren’t far from Sofra bar so we went in there to wash my face and get tissues for the blood. While I was in the bathroom Ann ordered more wine. My chin wouldn’t stop bleeding so we got a couple of plasters from a friend of a friend and Ann slapped them on my chin.
Needless to say, we ended up staying out out and consumed too many wines before getting a taxi back to Ann’s.



I didn’t get up until 11.20am on Sunday 13th March and my double plastered chin really hurt. Ann was already up, had brought me some water and seemed surprisingly spritely, considering. It had been a late and messy night – I felt like crap. I walked down to Heybe’s before Ann and waited for her to arrive. We both ordered a fry up (mine without eggs or tomatoes). It seemed to take forever but Roy was already in having a beer so we chatted to him. When the food came I found it hard to eat because my chin and jaw were a bit swollen.
I went home after breakfast and took the plasters off for a look, my chin wasn’t too bad compared to how bloody it had seemed at the time. I did have bruises on my legs and a cut on my hand but I was lucky it wasn’t any worse.
After a nice hot shower, I got back in bed and alternated between watching Netflix and snoozing. China was in the Vietnamese news again, as Corona cases over there were increasing rapidly, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220313/china-daily-local-symptomatic-covid-cases-more-than-triple/66147.html
Later, I got back up for beef stew with potato wedges for my Sunday dinner at home. The light swung and my water cooler sloshed about as I definitely felt a ripple or two from a small earthquake.
I messaged family and found out that there was a weekend away for my mom’s 70th birthday coming up, which I decided to invite myself to and started looking for a flight. As long as the decorations at my parents’ place in Dalyan were finished before I went, I would be able to fit it in. Flights to the UK via Istanbul or Antalya were cheap at the moment. My sister sent me the location and it looked good but it only slept 6 so maybe I’d have to take the couch!

Photo credit – Joanne Sparrow at Spectrum

Dalyan – 1st to 3rd March

Dalyan – 1st to 3rd March

I’d successfully survived 5 months of being in Turkey without Captain Caveman and my first month of working online. Tuesday 1st March started with the realisation that my internet was off. It needed renewing on the 28th February but I’d overlooked this so I trotted off to the Captain Net office to sort it out. I walked through the roadworks and noticed there was progress but it was still moving slowly. The lady at Captain Net saw I had some English money in my purse and asked if she could buy a £20 and a £10 from me for ‘her piggy bank’ and I agreed. The rate was 18.5 lira to the pound now and looking likely to go up again. Back home, with the internet back on, I read an amusing article on Facebook from Vietnam about having sex during Corona.
I hadn’t eaten breakfast so I had beans on toast for lunch while pondering my choices for dinner. That’s when I got the bad news; today was actually Pancake Day! I was confused, I had no idea why I had thought it was last week but felt pp certain I had read it somewhere. Never one to pass by an opportunity to eat pancakes, I whisked up a mixture and popped it in the fridge. I decided beef stew would go with it for dinner but I just had the one then decided to join friends for a cheeky vino.
I met Mark, Kate, Andy and Kaye at Lukka bar for a drink and Kate had brought me some Thai curry paste from her trip back to England. She worked out it would be easy enough to make here and set about sourcing some of the ingredients, such as lemongrass, from an App called Trendyol which a lot of people use over here. Kate, Kaye and I chatted while Mark and Andy played pool. The consensus with everyone, but Mark, was that it wouldn’t be a late one however, as can often be the case, that didn’t quite pan out. Kaye and Kate decided they were going home, I’d ordered a 2nd glass of wine, the blokes were playing pool and arm wrestling with Appo, the waiter. Mark insisted on Kate staying for another drink as he didn’t want to go home yet. I could see he was being daft so I offered to drink some of the bottle of wine he’d just ordered so they could leave sooner – I’m kind like that! It didn’t work and everyone went home, leaving Mark playing pool with the staff. It was after midnight when I failed to force-feed pancakes to my impromptu house guest, despite my best efforts to help sober him up.

On Wednesday 2nd March I woke up late and got ready for my Turkish class. I met Kate at Lukka, she had brought her blanket to crochet while I had my lesson then I stayed and had lunch while she had her lesson. I tried the chicken and mushroom penne and it was a really tasty and healthy sized portion. I chatted with Katrina and Abi who were having sweet and sour chicken, another dish I needed to try. When Kate finished her class she was heading up to Rehab bar and asked me to join her. The cleaner was at mine so I agreed, despite the heavy rain, the new road was starting to flood and by the time we got there we were soaking wet. I had a Turkish cider while we took off our layers and arranged wet belongings in front of the heater. The blokes were playing pool, as they do on a Saturday afternoon, and there was some banter going on. One bloke was in trouble with his wife because he’d bought cucumbers instead of courgettes and had to traipse back out in the pouring rain to get the right vegetables.
My Sheffield friends, Vanessa and Matt, had flown from England to Antalya and were currently on a coach to Ortaca. We were all looking forward to them being back in Dalyan about 5.30pm so, after pool, we hung about in Rehab bar for them to arrive. When they arrived we all had hugs (get the LFTs at the ready) and it was great to see them. More drinks followed but I still limited it to just the 3 ciders as I didn’t want to go mad. Unfortunately, we experienced a new first in Dalyan and had a bad meal. We ordered a takeaway, to eat in Rehab bar, which was pretty terrible but we were all hungry. Vanessa ordered a pide which looked like burnt cheese on toast, Matt and Mark ate their’s without complaint, Kate and I had a chicken burger each and shared chips – the chicken burgers were grey inside. We still ate it all though, but made a note not to have another takeaway from the burger place next door to Rodrigo’s bar. It was definitely the worst meal I’ve had since I’ve been here. I walked home with Vanessa and Matt and was home by 9pm to a newly cleaned apartment and an early night.

I had cornflakes for breakfast on Thursday 3rd March then did a bit of work before going to meet Ann at Porta Dalya. As I was leaving the house, Penny called but I didn’t answer it because I didn’t want to be late.
When I arrived, Ann had already got a coffee and I ordered a diet coke. When our lunch arrived Ann had underestimated the spicy arrabbiata sauce on her pasta and had to get some yoghurt. I stuck with the chicken and mushroom Alfredo which is always a winner. We had 1 glass of wine each and then we were sensible and went home.
I called Penny back and she was at Lukka bar, my loaned bicycle was ready to pick up, so I went to meet her. When I arrived there was quite a crowd sat drinking in the sun. I ordered a cider but then my phone rang, it was Captain Caveman so I went back to the apartment so we could chat. He had an invitation for me! Vietnam had been promising to open to international arrivals and the date was set for 15th March. He wanted to know if I wanted to come to visit sometime in May or June for a few weeks and, of course, I said yes! His colleague has a wife who was keen to visit too, so Captain Caveman put us in touch to discuss travelling out there together. He sent me his schedule up to July and he’d got some tours back-to-back to accommodate gaps in which I would be able to visit. I went back to the bar feeling delighted that I would be getting to see my other half within the next 3 months. I drank my cider with a big smile on my face, then Penny drove me to her villa to pick up the bicycle. I cycled it back to Lukka not knowing it had gears so found it was like peddling through treacle. It certainly warmed me up and I was once again, mobile! Having got a bit of a sweat on from cycling, I ordered another cider, not realising I had missed an upsetting incident. Debbie (Darling)’s street dogs, Socks and Brin, had gone on a cat chase with a terrible result, Socks was in the dog house and tied up at the bar, Debbie was upset. Sheila arrived next and we got chatting about music and her accordian playing. She is part of a singing group in Dalyan, which Kate and I got invited to and we agreed to give it a try next week. I didn’t stay much longer and went home for a good home cooked dinner of stew, Yorkshire pudding and broccoli.
Before bed, I checked the cost of flights to Vietnam, there were no direct ones as yet but the ones via Singapore Airlines were £581 return. I was so excited to perhaps be able to plan to see Captain Caveman, that it took me a long time to get to sleep!

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 20th September

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 20th September

It was a very long day on Monday 20th September, which started with my alarm going off at 5.30am. My driver, T, was due to pick me up at 6.15am but he arrived at 6am and I wasn’t ready. When I got to the car at 6.15am T had gone to help one of the staff move something heavy and then we had to go to Duyet’s house, around the corner, to collect a pig to take to Khanh’s in Dong Hoi. I watched as the butchered and bagged up pig was transported less than 20 metres by motorbike by Duyet’s dad, in to the back of our van. I knew we were going to be late for my important PCR test as we pulled in to the petrol station to fill up. We arrived at Medlatec in Dong Hoi 12 minutes late and I incorrectly went up the slippy wet steps to the main reception only to have to come back down them, turn left and in to the loading bay area where a PCR testing facility had been set up. There was just 1 other customer there and about 4 staff and I was given a form, this one was in English, to complete all my details. I decided to ask for a rapid test and the RT-PCR test so that if there was any errors with the RT-PCR certificate I would still be able to travel to Hanoi and get another RT-PCR test there. Although 1 nostril hurt more than the other, this time the pain wore off much easier than the previous couple of times I’d been sampled. I was moved to a waiting area and told to wait 20 minutes for the rapid test result. I checked the Corona numbers and the news as well as reading an email from Singapore Airlines, reminding me I could check in for my flight! I didn’t, as I still didn’t know if I would be actually getting on the flight.
The news in Vietnam had an article of some crazy stuff going on now, check this out:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210919/vietnamese-teacher-purposely-receives-two-covid19-vaccine-shots-within-10-minutes/63171.html
The technician came over to say there was a problem with my rapid test and I had to wait a little longer, this was the first hurdle of the day. She showed me that my result was negative on a plastic testing device but said she couldn’t get the computer to send the paper document with this on, someone was trying to fix it. This was worrying because my RT-PCR test result needed to be printed at 5pm today and I hoped it wouldn’t be an issue. Less than 10 minutes later it was fixed and I got my certificate in a nice envelope and was told I could collect the RT-PCR test certificate at 5pm. I introduced T and told them he would pick it up, I also advised that they needed to put my full birthdate, not just the year, on the print out, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to fly.

The next of the morning’s activities, having got my negative rapid test results from Medlatec, was supermarket shopping. T dropped me off at the Vincom centre which was still closed but the VinMart Supermarket was open. It was a strange feeling doing the ‘essential’ weekly shop not knowing if I would be in Vietnam or Turkey in the next few days but I hoped after all this hassle, that Captain Caveman would have all the provisions to himself.

For all of you who have missed a list of my shopping items, here’s what I bought;

1 baguette 9,500
Baby wipes 10,000
Green beans 15,057
Potatoes 20,417
Sandwich loaf 21,000
Ziplock bags 23,000
Carrots 23,616
Red cabbage 33,085
Mushrooms 33,900
Cherry tomatoes 35,108
Onions 36,476
1 tin of mints 46,100
Sunflower oil 57,000
Mouthwash 58,000
Spaghetti 61,000
1 jar of jam 138,000
1.5kg chicken 143,700
500g of butter 161,400

Total spent: 926,359vnd (£29.68)

I was looking forward to seeing how much a comparable shop would be in Dalyan, I suspected it would be more expensive.

As I was leaving at 8.40am the main escalators were still not on so I decided to take my shopping and trolley down in the lift, it was only 1 floor and I intended to leave from the side exit to go to the car. When the lift got down I found the door was locked and I tried to recall the lift but it would only open from the main shopping centre side. I was wondering how on earth I was going to get out when the security guard came to rescue me – if I couldn’t get out of a building without a hitch, things weren’t looking too promising for my attempt to leave the country!

I was on my way back from Dong Hoi on when I got a message from Danny, the driver, he had to get another PCR test, as his would run out at midnight tonight, and he was 150km away from where he needed to pick me up. He said he couldn’t get his results until 4pm and he would be arriving about 6.45-7pm, later than expected. That was fine by me as my results weren’t getting picked up until 5pm in Dong Hoi so it did mean I might have time to eat and say some goodbyes. When I got home Captain Caveman was once again in the kitchen making me a nice breakfast, this time with baked beans. Stu was on his way over to say bye and I had a shower and packed a few last minute things in to my hand luggage. I just happened to look outside and saw a policeman so I told Captain Caveman that maybe he should delay Stu until he’d gone, as we were still in Directive 15 and shouldn’t be having visitors. Before midday I got a call from Bich to tell us the reason for the police visit; apparently there had been some positive Corona cases 500m from our house and so he was letting us know, and telling everyone in the area, not to leave the house. Bich advised that I couldn’t go anywhere and I was gutted but Captain Caveman said we would still go ahead with the plan for me to leave and if I got stopped then so be it. We spoke to Stu to tell him not to come and that I still didn’t know if I was leaving or not, we decided against me inviting anyone else over or me going to say bye to friends. Regardless, I made packed lunches and packed frozen bottles of green tea in to a cooler bag, in readiness for a journey that might not happen. We decided to watch Sex Education on Netflix and have some red wine while leftover beef stew was on the cards for my last meal. Because of the cases Bich told us about we were probably going back in to Directive 16 tomorrow and so it was a bit concerning whether I should have permission to leave, if we asked it was likely the People’s Committee could say no, so we didn’t. By 4pm we were almost finishing the wine so we decided to have an early dinner, which we had with rice and it was delicious. Danny had his results and was on his way, the rain had started to become heavy and I was a bit anxious if T would manage to collect my PCR test result as requested – more importantly, would it be correct!?

The final part of the day was pretty stressful! We’d already been told by Bich that the police had informed everyone to stay where they are and that there were positive Corona cases very near to our place which meant we had no idea what would happen when Danny came to pick me up. Captain Caveman and I decided I should still try to leave because tomorrow we would be in no better position and we didn’t know for how long that could remain, plus the forecasted wet weather could also impede my attempts somewhat. There was also the fact that Danny, the driver, was on his way and he would charge another 7 million vnd (£250) regardless of whether I made it to Hanoi airport with him or not – I felt like it was now or never. The evening before, Ben and Bich had mentioned that Danny wanted to pick up 2 bicycles from previous customers that had been left at the Phong Nha Farmstay but I had decided to disregard the details of that, I just needed to get out and not worry about other people’s stuff, plus I’d had 1 too many glasses of fizz.
At 4.30pm I got a couple of messages from T, who was already at Medlatec in Dong Hoi, followed by a phone call to tell me to look at the photo of my PCR test result certificate to check it is ok for him to bring back to me. It didn’t have my nationality on it, which I was concerned about, but it didn’t say I was Vietnamese either, Captain Caveman helped me check it and we thought it would be ok, my full date of birth and the dates all matched – T was on his way and I had sent a copy to Danny.
This was it, I was going! Captain Caveman weighed my suitcase and it was 22kg. My hand luggage was about 8kg, bang on the allowance. When T arrived he had the PCR test paper in his hand, in the rain, no envelope or in a pocket, but at least it was here and I could use it to get on a plane tomorrow.
At 7.15pm in the middle of a rain storm Danny messaged to say he was here, we looked outside and he wasn’t. Danny was at the triangle junction off the main road but near to the Phong Nha Farmstay – not walkable with my ankle, the suitcases and the rain. I called Bich, she explained that she didn’t know what was happening with the pick up location but earlier she had sent T back to deliver a bicycle to Elements (so the bike was at our place too), she asked me to put Duyet on the phone. Duyet would have to drive me, my luggage and 1 random bicycle, to where Danny was, which meant Captain Caveman couldn’t say a private goodbye to me at the car or help with my luggage. Duyet, Cuong and Captain Caveman were all struggling to get the bike in the van while I sat there trying not to cry. It was not quite the farewell I had in mind and I only got to quickly kiss Captain Caveman and have a very brief hug, despite not knowing when I would see him again. The bike had to go in with the wheels on as no one could remove them and when we got to the barrier we had to stop. I didn’t have any permission slip from the People’s Committee, neither did Duyet, and I have no idea what Duyet told the man but they let us through – I was so relieved and had tears running down my face as I waved bye to the man. A few minutes later we got to the next road where Danny was, there was no barrier so we quickly transferred my suitcases in to Danny’s car in the rain. Then Duyet and Danny faffed about for a while trying to get the bicycle apart and in to the car. They managed it eventually but it did mean I didn’t have the whole back seat to spread out on and was sat behind the driver’s seat in a car with mosquitos trying to avoid the rain. I tried not to dwell on the oil and cobwebs on my luggage and near my head as I got back out in the pouring rain to give Duyet a hug, this was not actually allowed but we didn’t care!
I had finally left the village and we were on our way to our first checkpoint, 3 hours later we had successfully made it through the 1st checkpoint without me having to get out of the car and feeling happy I had my documents in a plastic wallet. By 11.10pm we had made it to the first empty services with a squat toilet which I managed fine but, as I was coming out I saw a big momma rat carrying it’s baby. We made each other jump on the wet tiles and she dropped her baby in front of me, it made me think of my mom and how much she would freak out. I kept calm, walked slowly and got back in the car, only 7 or more hours to go until I would get to the airport – it was going to be a long night!

Phong Nha – 3rd September

Phong Nha – 3rd September

We were awake early on Friday 3rd September which happened to be day 9 of the #STFAH Directive 16 lockdown. Before we could have any breakfast, Captain Caveman got a call saying we had to go ‘now’ to the Khuong Ha community clinic for a PCR test. We asked where it was but the caller didn’t know so we asked a friend, Lam, who was working as a volunteer at the school down the road which had been turned in to an isolation centre for Corona cases. We tried to find Duyet to let him know we were leaving the premises (and why) but couldn’t, so we let Cuong know – he just looked confused but didn’t stop us. By 10am we were on our bicycles, masked up and armed with hand sanitizer, to go the 3 minute cycle to the Volley ball courts, with attached clinics. There was probably about 100 people there, all in nicely spaced out rows, there were police, doctors and lots of health staff or volunteers. It was outside and as we took our place at the back of the queue we were picked out and asked to come to the front. We gave my name and phone number to a health worker, who gave his details back and then I went first on the chair. I faced the audience of the queuing people and the next victim was a cute little girl who could not have been older than 10, so I tried to be brave. It was quick and very strange, I really had no idea you could get something so far up my nose. It was over in a minute and then Captain Caveman was next – he was less pained from it but he has always been quite a snotty sort, whereas I felt mine for a while after, because of always having a dry nose. On the way back home we cycled past the school which was rumoured to be full of cases, it looked empty, and Lam shouted “Hello Adam and Jo!” as we passed him on the gate. All in all not too unpleasant an experience and now the idea was that the sample would be sent to Dong Hoi CDC to be tested and I was told I could then get the required certificate to enable me to go to Hanoi and then Turkey! Captain Caveman was pleased that it all seemed very straight forward and organised and that it was all going to work out, I (the sceptic in this duo) had serious doubts that what they had promised and what they could deliver might not be the same thing. In my head I was already worried that they didn’t really get what I needed and that it was bound to go pear-shaped!

We had just walked back through the door at home, took our masks off, washed our hands, and Captain Caveman was updating his colleague that we had been tested, when Bich called. She had been called for her to organise for us to go for the PCR test, but we had already gone. She was a bit confused as she knew nothing about it but I explained that neither did we until 30 minutes ago and we just did what we were told. Captain Caveman hadn’t actually needed to get his done but he had decided it was wise to do so in case he ended up having to drive me anywhere to get me out. After speaking to his contact at work, again, Captain Caveman reassured me that they said all could be arranged and we were able to go ahead and book my flights. I was so relieved and, because we’d not eaten yet, we decided to have lunch first. I’m not saying Captain Caveman was happy that I was finally getting out of here, but he decided we would open his very last bottle of emergency wine, which was a very nice one, bought for him by one of his customers, Thien. I thought we should wait until it was all actually done before we started celebrating but he insisted, and I wasn’t going to turn down wine. He made a chicken and mushroom (using the ones we had grown) spaghetti which we had to make do without a sauce as we hadn’t been able to get any and we didn’t have many tomatoes left. It was very hot out so I had to keep getting in the pool to try to cool off and we had a lovely lockdown lunch, with great wine, on the balcony. We did a cheers to getting out of the house for 30 minutes during a #STFAH stint and we also spoke to a friend in Saigon to check how she was getting on. Things were pretty bad there but she was doing ok and was able to get food and wine pretty well. We called my parents and were full of excitement about our day and the plans all coming together to get me a step nearer to getting to Turkey – it could finally be happening!

After speaking to my parents while I sat next to the pool and Captain Caveman was in it, I had been getting quite hot. We put the phone down saying we would call again next week, once I was about to leave, and I desperately needed to get back in the water, which I did. Things were looking up and although I wouldn’t have had a 2nd vaccine, as hoped, I would at least be able to get one in Turkey and start again from scratch with a different brand, probably Pfizer this time. Captain Caveman made a nice dinner of chicken, onions, peppers, green beans and potatoes with BBQ sauce. I was so glad now that I had got the BBQ sauce as we were starting to run out of any moist ingredients.
After dinner Captain Caveman took the plunge and booked my flights all the way from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Dalaman, Turkey. I confirmed with Danny, the driver, and I booked my pick up from Dalaman airport with Sonuç at King Emlak in Dalyan. We arranged for the apartment at Fire Opal to get a clean before I arrived, and care package of food for when I got there after a very long journey. We started to plan for my 2 long stays in Hanoi and Singapore airports by sending a shopping request to Bich to order fruit, snacks, crisps for me plus beer, eggs and potatoes for Captain Caveman. Bich was being really good at being able to get us food and said she would arrange to send it tomorrow, although she was concerned I wouldn’t be able to leave next week because of lockdown. Captain Caveman contacted Stu to ask if he could get more pulled pork from him and he agreed to drop some at the Phong Nha Farmstay for Bich to put with our delivery. There was a slight problem we had to worry about now, we had hardly any cash and the ATM is in Phong Nha town, where we are not allowed to go to, during lockdown. Our day 9 of the #STFAH had been a good one and we went to bed feeling like something had been accomplished today – tomorrow I would repack my suitcases again!