Dalyan to Datça – 13th October

Dalyan to Datça – 13th October

To celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, the four of us had booked a couple of days away. On Thursday 13th October Captain Caveman had loaded the car up with plenty of goodies and was ready to pick my parents up at 9.30am. We drove to Akyaka for breakfast at Orfoz restaurant, on our way to Datça. Captain Caveman ordered menemen, my parents ordered an omelette each and some tomatoes, cucumber & rocket. I just ordered some cheese and jam as I don’t like to eat eggs and a bigger breakfast would be too much while travelling.

Our next stop was at Datça Vineyard, where we were booked in to stay at. We had arrived early and decided to check out the town. We drove around Old Datça, got lost a bit and then made our way towards the sea.
We parked up and walked past a place my parents had been to years ago then stopped for a drink at Gocadam Pub for a cold drink. We had lunch at a nice cafe overlooking the sea, Mom had a seafood spaghetti dish with a soft drink and the rest of us had pizza and beer. It was very nice and I had a bit left over as the portions were big.

On arrival at Datça Vineyard we walked up the steep slope to the reception to check in. It took a while as my Turkish is limited and so was their English and it seemed very laid back. We had booked 2 of the nicer rooms and they were lovely, they even had a whirlpool outside and a complimentary minibar. Dad did get in the whirlpool but it was very cold. The sunset and views from our rooms were charming and we really loved the place. The place had been recommended to me by Andy & Julie last year and I had been going for my birthday in January (this year) but we had to cancel. I was glad to finally get to visit and we were pleased to be staying 2 nights.
That night we were supposed to be taking it easy but we all managed to drink lots of wine in our room. Captain Caveman and I had also brought lots of cheese and nibbles to go with the wine. We even brought our own supply of Tılsım red wine, just in case the vineyard stuff wasn’t what we liked.

Dalyan – 2nd October

Dalyan – 2nd October

Captain Caveman was back to his sprightly self on Sunday 2nd October, which looked to be another sunny day. He went to Migros supermarket as they opened at 8.30am to buy some breakfast items. He bought 1 simit, 1 croissant and 1 chocolate & nut croissant for a total of 25.35 lira (£1.20).
We ate breakfast and, while I caught up on my Turkish, Captain Caveman went back to the supermarket for a bigger shop. Here’s the shopping basket and prices in lira;

Migros Supermarket

1 litre soda water 9.75
Salt 11.50
Cheese 15.50
2 packs of chicken livers 16.81
Apple and cherry juice 21.60
A knife 22.95
3 tomato puree 23.76
Marmalade 24.40
Washing powder 29.06
Roll-on deodorant 30.45
Chicken 41.24
Paper towels 79.90
Toilet rolls 119.90
Olive oil 154.90

Total spent 601.72 lira (£28.83)

Back home, we had a nice chicken salad for lunch and then we had to get ready for the biggest event in Dalyan that I’d ever been to!

At 3.30pm we made our way to the Kaunos tea garden where Victoria Louise Scott was getting married to Bünyamin. A while a go I had received an invite to her Facebook group event which I had read out to Captain Caveman so that he could add the itinerary to his phone. These were the details he had:
4pm Wedding ceremony at tea garden
4.30pm boats to the beach, canapés & drinks on board, photos at the beach
6.30pm back up the river by boat to Paradise hotel for the evening meal
8.30pm evening wedding party.
I decided to wear my pink dress and Captain Caveman wore trousers and a shirt, despite it being extremely hot. When we arrived at the tea gardens there were already lots of guests having a refreshment. There was very little shade and we were melting so we decided to grab a beer. We were joined by Mark, Kate, Debbie (Darling), Roy, Nikki and Bianca. Debbie (Darling) and I stood together to watch the ceremony which was very nice. There were lots of guests, as Victoria is very well known in Dalyan, she is also an Admin for the Dalyan Visitors Facebook page.

Captain Caveman and I followed Mark and Kate towards the boats after the ceremony, Debbie (Darling) and Roy were going to go straight to the hotel and see us there.
When we got to the boat, Mark, Kate and Daisy were on Turgay’s boat but it was now full so we hopped on the next one. Captain Caveman ordered a beer and I had a red wine, both cost the same, 70 lira (£3.35). We had a couple and enjoyed some canapés as we sailed down the river. On the boats we had lots of music and dancing and we got involved in the celebrations, feeling so pleased to have been invited. All of the guests we met were lovely and it was an amazing day. Victoria looked absolutely stunning and everyone had dressed up for this momentous occasion. The traditional Turkish band followed us from boat to boat and were incredible (and loud), the young drummer was fantastic.

We arrived at the Paradise hotel and rejoined Debbie (Darling) and Roy who were already sat at a table and had a wine bucket crammed with bottles of wine. There was also a lot of bottled water on the table which, when we went to sit down, a guest came to move out of the way. She took the waters and a bottle of wine to another table and we thought maybe we were in her seats so we moved down a bit. The table was set lovely and there was a post box for us to put our money/cards in. I didn’t realise how close to the top table we were until Victoria and Bünyamin came in to sit at their table, right behind me. The food came out quickly and was absolutely delicious, Captain Caveman shovelled it in like he was starving and ate anything from my plate that I couldn’t manage. The wine on the table to toast wasn’t to my taste as I’m not keen on sparkling rosé so we stuck to our own red wine. We managed to see Deidre who we missed meeting up with in Holland and she helped me sign the wedding book. Because I had contact lenses in, I had trouble seeing what I wrote. Steve came over with a whisky and I had one with the boys to mark the happy day. We were having a lovely time with lots of dancing and drinking. We were pretty tipsy but we had to leave fairly early as we had Drew’s birthday at River Terrace to attend.

At River Terrace we managed to just catch Jamie and Drew before his celebration ended. On the way home my sandal strap broke and I had to hobble down lovers lane to the bar. We then sat to watch Daisy perform her singing but I really couldn’t drink much more. It had been a great day and we had loved seeing so many people having such a good time.

Dalyan – 20th & 21st September

Dalyan – 20th & 21st September

I only just managed to get myself out of bed in time to walk to Turkish class on Tuesday 20th September. It was at Casablanca Hotel at 10am and I was hungover.
Nothing else much happened that day except for me eating an apple and Captain Caveman managing to get some turkey on offer for 52 lira (£2.47) so that we could have a salad for dinner. I’d forgotten to do weight and measurements this weekend so I did them today. I was now the heaviest I’d been in a couple of years, I’d managed to put 2cm on my bust, 1cm on my waist but lose 4cm from my hips in about a week. My leg measurements had either decreased slightly or stayed the same. We stayed in that night and took it easy while the Aussies downstairs went to the airport to pick up their friend, Chris. Tomorrow, we had organised another fun day out so we needed to recharge our batteries a bit.

We had booked a trip with Ivona and Ismail on their Princess of Ekincik boat on Wednesday 21st September. Amanda and Greg had suggested we get a private trip together for the 4 of us and their guest, Chris. We decided to extend the invite to more friends and fill the boat.
Onboard with the 5 of us were Linda, Annie, Adam & Kath, Julie & Issy, Mark & Kate, Jackie & Chris, Dawn & Steve.
We went to Ekincik Bay and had a lovely day out. The service and food on the Princess of Ekincik boat is superb and we had such a great BBQ lunch. We also were rather lucky that no one had booked the boat for the evening trip so we got to stay out all day and for sunset too. Not everyone knew each other but that didn’t matter and we soon got dancing to Kate’s party playlist.

When we came to pay for our boat trip and drinks it was more money than Captain Caveman had accounted for. The trip itself was 500 lira each (£23.70) but we managed to spend another 1000 lira (£47.57) in drinks, which was a little excessive for our budget but we had a great time.
We had a bit of an after-boat-trip drink at River Terrace but Kate had to leave to meet Daisy at Sofra bar. She took her bag with Mark’s wallet and clothes in so Mark had to go with Captain Caveman to our place to borrow a t-shirt. Most people had one drink but Mark didn’t even finish his before heading to meet Kate in another bar. After River Terrace, where it was 65 lira (£3.09) for a beer we went to Dalyan Cafe for food and another beer.

Photo credit – Adam Newton, Princess of Ekincik

Rhodes to Fethiye & Çalış – 16th September

Rhodes to Fethiye & Çalış – 16th September

We were up and packed super early on Friday 16th September as we were off back to Turkey. We were booked on the 9am ferry from Rhodes to Fethiye with Sky Marine ferries. They run only during the holiday season, until the end of October, and when we arrived at the port it was busy. The walk from our hotel to the port wasn’t too far but it started to get a bit warm carrying the rucksack, on the way we saw a massive cruise ship too. At the port, I had a sit down and some water after carrying my bag which was about 10kg, Captain Caveman’s was heavier as he was carrying the booze. We noticed the ferry queue for Marmaris was quite long but the one to Fethiye was very short, we were at the front and we didn’t have to wait long to pick up our tickets. The crossing takes a couple of hours and cost around €50, Captain Caveman had the good idea to get me a sea sickness pill. When I took it the ginger and size of it made it difficult, but I got it down.
The ferry was empty so we sat at the front where we could stretch our legs out. Strangely, the next passengers to get on sat right behind us, despite having the whole ferry to choose from. I fell asleep almost immediately and we think it was the seasickness tablet as I’ve experienced that before.

We had planned to spend a bit of time in Fethiye when we arrived and had even asked Mark, Kate and Daisy if they fancied a trip to Çalış but they were already busy. Captain Caveman decided we would stay an extra night in Fethiye and booked us in at the Downtown Fethiye Suites. With it being a weekend we had trouble finding a place to stay so we got lucky with this little apartment. We arrived early expecting to drop bags but we were allowed to check-in. After unpacking our stuff and putting the cheese in the fridge we decided to go to The Mulberry Tree for brunch. Its a popular little cafe with great food, I had a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea while Captain Caveman had pide and coffee. We even bought some crumpets to take away with us for the freezer.

We decided to get the 5.30pm water taxi from Fethiye to Çalış so that Captain Caveman could experience the delights of Charcoal Palace. The ride takes about 20 minutes and costs 40 lira each way and on the way there it was a full boat. When we got to Charcoal Palace it was quiet so we sat outside and ordered a pint of Beck’s draft beer each. It was 35 lira (£1.68) which is a lot cheaper than what we had been used to. I noticed that the menu had gluten free batter for the fish so I decided I would try it, for research purposes more than anything. We both had fish and chips which come with tartare sauce and mushy peas. I don’t eat either so I gave mine to Captain Caveman. If you didn’t know the gluten free was served, you wouldn’t have been able to tell as it was very good. The colour was slightly different and the price was the same as the regular one.

After dinner we walked to the seafront to see the sunset and had an Efes at Summer Breeze bar, they were out of Beck’s draft.
We were ready to go back to Fethiye for an early night when we got a message from Julio. He was at Terras bar in Fethiye with friends and invited us to join them. We had a great night, a few more drinks and a good laugh before we walked back to our apartment and the others carried on their night.

Rhodes – 15th September

Rhodes – 15th September

We stayed in bed late on the morning of Thursday 15th September, which was nice. Our room at Lefka Hotel had a shutter on the outside of the patio doors which made it dark and quiet.
By 1pm we were eating leftovers for our lunch and decided to open the bottle of Cair red wine, which was great. In the afternoon we went to the supermarket to stock up on cheese, salami, crisps and deodorant before getting ready for our last night in Rhodes.

Michelle and Steve had kindly booked us our ferry back to Turkey tomorrow morning so we made the most of our last Greek evening. Captain Caveman changed some more dollars and we had a walk around the old town, including a mooch about the Gate of St Anthony. We watched sunset at the beach and had a cold beer at the Malt House, which was lovely.

Captain Caveman had booked us in for an eleven course tasting menu at Piatakia for dinner and it was great. The food was excellent and I was brave to try everything except for the tuna and mussels.
On the way home we had one more drink to break up the walk back to our hotel, at a bar I forgot the name of.

Photo credit – some taken by Captain Caveman

Rhodes – 14th September

Rhodes – 14th September

Captain Caveman and I had originally planned to be back in Dalyan by Wednesday 14th September, however things had changed. Unfortunately, we would miss Sausage Dick’s departure without having seen him this time and there was still no sign of the missing sausages. One of the reasons we decided to stay longer in Rhodes was that Captain Caveman can only stay in Turkey for 90 days which means that he has to spend a month elsewhere this winter. 
At 6.20am I was waking up Captain Caveman to look at the stunning sunrise from our hotel balcony. We went back to bed after taking photos and I had an extra snooze before we got ready to check out. We were moving again and we were disappointed not to be staying for longer in Vlycha as it was really lovely.

Our next stop was back to Rhodes Town where Captain Caveman had booked for us to stay at Lefka Hotel & Apartments for 2 nights. We got the bus from Vlycha, outside the TUI Blue hotel, to Rhodes Town. We got off in town and then had to walk, via one of Captain Caveman’s shortcuts, which I was convinced was longer. When we arrived at the hotel there was no one in reception and we were too early to check-in. We left our bags and walked back in to town for some lunch. We went to a restaurant, called Nimmos, which was friendly and fairly busy. We both ordered beer, Captain Caveman had fried cheese and I had chicken kebab. The food was tasty, not the best in the world, but we had been rather spoiled recently. On the way back to the hotel to check in we called in to the supermarket to buy water. I happened to spot the same Cair Cabernet Sauvignon wine from Vlycha for €10 so we bought a bottle.

Lefka Hotel was very nice, we liked our room and the small, clean bathroom. We got ready and went back out for sunset in Rhodes Town. Captain Caveman insisted we try Piccolo Pizza which was a small stall in the old town that had the best pizza and had been recommended by Google. We found a gorgeous little wine bar, called Obscura, where we enjoyed a couple of glasses of very good red wine.

It was after 8pm when we set off walking back towards our hotel for a delicious meal at 4 Rhodies, which was on the way. We over ordered on the food which was outstanding and we had to take a doggy bag back to he hotel. Captain Caveman had liver and I had a huge cheese salad but we kind of shared, there was lots of bread. We had a carafe of the cheap wine which was actually very good for the price. The mains were an egg and potato dish for Captain Caveman and a pork dish for me, both excellent. We walked home stuffed and ready for bed, tomorrow would be our last day in Rhodes.

Phong Nha – 19th July

Phong Nha – 19th July

I was so hungover on Tuesday 19th July but I made myself get up early with Captain Caveman. We had breakfast at The Villas together; I had a tasty Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and he had Bo Ne which had surprise tomatoes in, but he likes tomatoes.
Captain Caveman said goodbye and went to work, off back in to the cave again for 4 more days. I went to have an extra nap as we didn’t need to check out until noon. I’d hoped to catch up with friends while I was in Phong Nha town so I checked out and went to sit in the aircon at The Villas. I ordered a mango lassi instead of having any bottled water, it was really good.
I’d been trying to book a bus to Danang as there were no trains left for when we wanted them but the bus ticket lady was not replying. Lan told me it was because she was getting married today so the bus tickets were on hold while she did her nuptials. I stayed at The Villas for lunch and sampled the infamous Aussie meat pie with chips and gravy. It was actually even better than I remembered it being, the pastry was proper crusty and there was a generous and tasty filling. Some of my plans for later changed so I was still there for an afternoon ice-cream too and then, when I’d come round a bit, I had a cold beer.

After leaving Victory Road Villas, I walked to A Little Leaf homestay to meet Phuong. I’d not seen him since I’d been back and I’d promised to go see him and his newly improved homestay. A Little Leaf looked wonderful and was full of guests from all different nationalities and he even had a family with cute dogs staying there. He plied me with beers and food; fried pork spring rolls, Banh Loc and Banh Te so I got rather full. Banh Loc is a small, clear, chewy tapioca dumpling type of snack food. They are usually filled with shrimp and pork belly, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed to cook, then served with sweet chili fish sauce. Banh Te is a variety of small steamed snack made of rice flour, black pepper and herbs, then wrapped with Dong leaves into a long, thin cylindrical shape. Dong leaves are common here and are also said to be used by locals as antidote to drunkenness and snake bites. The food was delicious and had been made in Phuong’s village by his mother so I gave them a good go, while avoiding the chilli fish sauce. We video called his wife who is still working abroad and was about to do her 12 hour night shift. The beer kept on coming and Phuong insisted I had ice in my drink, which I try to avoid in Vietnam as most people use their hands to pick it up.
I was also meant to be meeting Chung at the Phong Nha Vegan restaurant but by this time I was drunk and Phuong had ordered me a taxi home. On the way down the tricky metal steps I asked Phuong to carry my bag so I didn’t fall and then we said goodbye. He invited Captain Caveman and I to come to his village with him when we had chance.
As I was going to the car, I saw Thu, the lady who used to work at Jungle Boss and is amazing! We had lots of hugs and were so happy to see each other again after all this time. I left with a female taxi driver (a novelty in Phong Nha) and Thu blowing kisses to me through the back window.
The taxi driver had no clue where she was going and we drove most of the way dangerously slowly on the highway with her phone in her right hand and very close to her face. I directed her in my best Vietnamese and we made it home at a cost of 200,000vnd (£7).
I unpacked my bag and put the laundry bag in for tomorrow’s housekeeping then went to bed for an early night.

Photo credit – A Little Leaf, Phuong.

Phong Nha – 20th June

Phong Nha – 20th June

Monday 20th June obviously started with me having a hangover. I had Tham message at 7am to say her physio could see me at 9am and then Bich called to tell me to get to the Lake House for my massage. There was no way I could function so I cancelled and blamed Tony, who had also cancelled his session. I finally got up for a bacon and brown sauce muffin, made by Captain Caveman about 10.15am. He had bacon, egg and cheese on his but I couldn’t look at it.

After spending a few hours in or next to the pool Captain Caveman made lunch; sausage and pesto spaghetti which was nice. It was a very hot day so I was impressed when Captain Caveman walked to the Lake House to retrieve Trigger, the motorbike. We arranged to meet Tatas in Phong Nha at 3.30pm at Coffee Station where Captain Caveman had a smoothie and a coconut coffee, I had 2 lemon juices. I noticed there was a hotel opposite where 2 goats were trying to go in to reception and it made me laugh.

Our next stop was Phong Nha Vegan to see our good friend, Chung. I invited Tatas but she needed to go home to exercise and shower before meeting me later. The Phong Nha Vegan restaurant had moved since I’d last been here and it was about 250m from Victory Road Villas, situated on the riverside, in what was Google House. We bumped in to Dung and Leo from Jungle Boss, who were just leaving and we sat down on some tyre seats in a sunny spot overlooking the river. We both had a juice which was very refreshing and chatted to Chung for a while. As we were fragile from last night and had already eaten we didn’t eat but we really needed to come back another time as the menu looked fantastic. Chung was now working full time at the vegan restaurant and was really enjoying it.

Captain Caveman had to leave at 5pm as he had a briefing for his next Oxalis tour tomorrow. I walked, in my plastic porter sandals, past Song Doong Bungalow, to The Villas to meet Tatas and Kat for curry night. By the time I got there I was desperate for the AC and my sandals, which I’d not worn for 9 months, had rubbed my feet. I was the first one there, I had a cold Huda beer and waited for the others to arrive. Kat was next to arrive and had decided she wouldn’t have curry but would order off the regular menu. When Tatas arrived she ordered gin and tonic and we both ordered the butter chicken special, Kat ordered the Caeser salad (I was pleased to see it didn’t have a poached or boiled egg in it) and we had a good chat. At 8pm Captain Caveman arrived just as our food was being served so he got a beer and waited for us to eat. I invited Kat and Tatas over for a pool afternoon and wine evening at Elements Collection tomorrow, as Captain Caveman would be back in the cave. They both said yes and I got a lift back with Captain Caveman. We all said our goodbyes in the car park and went off on the motorbikes, me with half of my leftover curry in my hand.

Saigon – 6th June

Saigon – 6th June

Monday 6th June started off with me being rather crotchety at not having had enough sleep. Captain Caveman had set his alarm for 7am and then turfed me out of bed to get a shower and get ready for the day. I was confused as my watch still said 3am, the blackout curtains fooled me in to thinking it was still night time and, at that moment, I didn’t really care what the plan was. I wanted to stay in bed and go back to sleep but Captain Caveman was insisting we needed a hearty breakfast because today’s activity would require sustenance. All I could think was ‘please don’t let it be an outdoor/adventurous pursuit’!
First, we went to a nearby cafe for breakfast where I got to watch Captain Caveman shovel in a plate of my least favourite breakfast items in one meal; avocado, tomatoes and poached eggs with toast. I had Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) with a pot of earl grey tea.

After breakfast we asked a security guard to call us a taxi and we headed to Bach Dang ferry terminal.
Captain Caveman had booked arranged for us to go on a gin tasting experience which we were told to meet at 9.30am for – I love a good gin but, crikey!
We were early and it transpires we weren’t getting on the ferry anyway. I had a wander about, used the portaloo (which was quite clean and had soap) then saw a statue of Vo Thi Sau, a girl who had fought in the war against the French occupation, more about her here:
https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/vo-thi-sau-the-story-of-vietnams-guerilla-girl/
Captain Caveman’s friend was sending a speedboat to pick us, and a few other select guests, up. I’m not one for speedboats, I was even seasick on one in the Maldives, so I was a bit apprehensive. The others arrived and we all walked across the ferry to get on to the speedboat. We got our life jackets on while Captain Caveman explained to me how these ones with CO² cannisters work. They automatically inflate in water and so, as we sat at the front of the boat, I moved my bag from across my chest in case it inflated by accident and injured me.

We were on the speedboat for quite some time and as we passed District 12, where Captain Caveman had cycled yesterday, we saw a big fire. It turned out that a tyre factory was in flames and was nicely polluting the area. After a total journey of 75 minutes we had arrived at a small area where we could use the facilities and wait for a car. When the car came, the guide expected the 8 of us to get in, but the 4 western fatties amongst us looked at him like he was insane. In no time, one of the guys was on the phone to request a 2nd car. By 11.30am (7.30am on my Turkish watch) we were at the distillery of Lady Trieu gin, having a water and meeting the very talented master distiller.

It was a strange feeling to have been out in Dalyan (Turkey) on Friday night, travelling to Vietnam all weekend, eating Lebanese food in Saigon last night and now it was Monday morning – it didn’t feel real.
We liked Adam, the Master Distiller at Lady Trieu, straight away. He was knowledgeable, engaging and funny as he ran through the process of how they make gin here. The downstairs part of the warehouse was super hot for the 8 minutes we were stood listening to Adam. We went upstairs to an AC room which was set up for us to taste the gins in and at 11.46am, Vietnamese time, we were about to find out more and taste the Limited Release gins. The clientele were reminiscent of us being in a corporate meeting but that didn’t stop me trying to smell and taste my way through the gins with much enthusiasm.

For the gin lovers amongst you, here’s the Lady Trieu Limited Release gins we tried, neat:
1. Mekong Delta Dry Gin – has star anise, pepper, kumquat and orange peel flavours. I liked this one and could see me drinking this with a dry ginger ale, as I don’t like tonic.
2. Dalat Flowerbomb Gin – floral with chrysanthemum, jasmine, citrus, lotus and coriander. I didn’t think I’d like this but I did and would definitely buy this one.
3. Sapa Citrus Tea Gin – the oolong tea and pepper flavour was amazing. This became my new favourite of the 3 and I’d fancy this as a martini cocktail, so no need for tonic.
4. Hoi An Spice Road Gin – ginger and black cardamom flavours which was fantastic and would go well with a curry.
By the 4th neat gin tasting I was starting to get tiddly and hungry but we still had the newest and best gin to taste. It was also apparent that almost everyone in the room, except for us, were suffering the after effects of a whisky event yesterday. One of the guys had popped out of the room to get himself a coke and a banana. Meanwhile I was getting right into it and my seasickness feeling was back with a vengeance. Lady Trieu, named after the famous warrior, was being sampled and reviewed by 12.20pm, this time I tasted it neat then with the recommended Fever Tree tonic and ice. I loved it.

In my mind it was 8.20am and I was pretty sozzled already as we went in to the next room, which had even more AC on and was where the magic and science happened. There was also a shelf with lots of glass bottles on which Adam, the Master distiller, explained were the ones that didn’t make it in to the final gin. By 1pm we were back downstairs, getting pictures with the rest of the Lady Trieu team and we were honoured to be allowed in the store cupboard to look at, touch and smell the ingredients. By 2.20pm we were in cars and almost back at the speedboat. As is usual for me, Monday madness was only just beginning and we happened to have an extra passenger!

As we got back on to the speedboat at 2.30pm, I foolishly thought we would have a calm ride back and then a taxi back to the apartment where I might get a little nap before whatever shenanigans Captain Caveman had slotted in to the schedule for tonight.
We had brought Adam, the Master Distiller, with us and within 2 minutes of departure he was driving the speedboat. While Captain Caveman and I looked on at the impressive speedboat driving skills, the others were sat at the back of the boat drinking bottled water and eating plums. On the 75 minute journey back, anyone who wanted to drive the speedboat down a Saigon river, could. Well, when in Rome! I can now drive a speedboat and I loved it. Captain Caveman could already drive one, obviously – what can’t he do!? Unfortunately I peaked too early and, after the real driver took back control, I had to have a little sit down inside the boat, while the men chatted business. I was so jet lagged, tired and drunk, that I took my Volleys (shoes) off and had a short siesta.
When we got off the speedboat Captain Caveman, Adam the gin man and I said bye to everyone else and jumped in a taxi. Captain Caveman had booked a grab to take us to a bar he likes, which I’d never been to before and couldn’t tell you where it was. I found that our new best mate liked Pulp as we blasted ‘Babies’ out and sang along to it. When we arrived at The Orient, I insisted we go in the AC, our friend Andrea, arrived to meet us. Unfortunately Adam, the Master Distiller, couldn’t stay out for more than the one drink and we said our goodbyes and thank yous.

We, on the other hand, managed another beer before going on to a restaurant of Andrea’s choosing where the 3 of us shared 2 bottles of lovely pinot noir red wine and 2 cheese and meat platters. Needless to say, we had an absolutely fantastic first full day together in Vietnam, I don’t recall getting back to the apartment over 12 hours after we left it, but I do remember wondering why all my clothes smelled of blue cheese.

If you want to find out more about Lady Trieu gins, they have a Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/LadyTrieuGin/

Dalyan – Top 10 things I will miss the most

Dalyan – Top 10 things I will miss the most

A friend kindly pointed out that when I left Dalyan, after a 36 week and 3 day stay, that there was probably a lot I would miss. Here’s my list of what I think I will miss the most:

1. People – obviously I’m going to miss my family and friends. This visit has also meant I’ve been lucky enough to meet up with both old and new friends. I’ve been so grateful to meet some very special people who I love spending time with. I will particularly miss the banter and jokes that I can have with friends in Dalyan, it’s hard to find that same sense of humour when I’m away.

2. Independence – it’s going to be tricky having to get used to fitting to Captain Caveman’s schedule again. I’ve had 8.5 months of being able to do what I choose to do, when I want so it will take some adjusting to.

3. Boat trips – I’d been doing a few per month so it was going to be hard not to be enjoying all the lovely boat trips and swimming in the turquoise water.

4. Food – of course I will miss the massive choice of food available in Dalyan. Not having an oven in Phong Nha will take some getting used to. I was also going to miss Kate’s fruitcake and the fresh bread for only 3 lira a loaf at the local bakery.

5. Speaking the lingo – I’d made a bit of progress learning the Turkish language and was beginning to like being able to make myself understood. Despite having kept up some Vietnamese practice on Duolingo no one in Phong Nha understands a word of my Vietnamese, and never has.

6. The dry heat – although I’m not good in high temperatures I find it much easier in Turkey with the dry heat than the humidity of Vietnam.

7. Booze – in Dalyan there is so much opportunity and choice where alcohol is concerned. Going to a bar to drink or to someone’s house for a wine or two is no problem and mostly within walking distance. There’s never a day goes by without an invite to something involving a drink.

8. Supermarkets and shops – I’m not much of a shopper but I will certainly miss being able to walk or cycle to a supermarket, pharmacy or shop to buy essentials.

9. Exercise classes – I’m going to miss being able to go to Zumba and Pilates every week as I’ve really enjoyed how they had benefited my bad leg.

10. Transport – I’ve been spoiled by being able to use Mark and Kate’s electric bikes, I will certainly miss being able to whizz about with assisted pedalling when it’s hot or hilly. It’s also easy to go out and about with a taxi or a bus to a nearby place in Dalyan. It’s not as simple or as affordable as that in Phong Nha so it means relying on lifts and other people.

Dalyan – 2nd June

Dalyan – 2nd June

It was my last full day and night in Dalyan on Thursday 2nd June and I wasn’t at all ready to leave. I was obviously looking forward to seeing Captain Caveman again, after 257 days apart, and was keen to find out what he had planned for when I arrived. Captain Caveman is a good planner but a man of very few words so he was keeping anything he did have in mind to himself. He did send me a photo of the place we would be staying at when I landed in Ho Chi Minh City. I was pleased it looked like the monsoon rains there were subsiding a bit and it was mainly happening in the afternoons.
Here, in Dalyan, it was a lovely sunny day and definitely bikinis and pool weather. Our complex was full of holiday makers in or around the pool and it was the first time I’d seen it busy.
At lunch it was time for my next leaving ‘celebration’ as I’d been invited out to Hotel Dalyance. Angela had organised for us to have a little gathering with Nick, Maddie and Lyndsey as they were unable to make my party that evening. I met them at Casablanca hotel first and had a coke before we wandered round. I was tempted by the chicken and mushroom alfredo but was conscious I needed to not have a reaction to the creamy sauce so I ordered the beef wrap with chips. I was not disappointed as it was delicious and a very generous portion for a lunch time meal. Others did have the pasta dish, Lyndsey had an omelette and everything looked amazing too. I even had a glass of red wine with my food but found I couldn’t manage all of the beef wrap and took a doggy bag home. It was a lovely afternoon and I was going to miss my friends, we were already talking of reunions in September. Just before it was time to say bye, both Maddie and I had bad stomachs, as is often the case with the pair of us, so Nick had to drive Maddie home without me saying farewell. I cycled home but had to take some stomach medication to make sure I was ok for tonight’s excitement. Kate had certainly pulled out all the stops with what she’d organised for my party tonight and I was looking forward to seeing everyone! By 5pm I was not any closer to being packed for my departure to Vietnam. The apartment now looked like a bomb had hit it and there were various half filled boxes all over the place. It was hot and I had a dodgy stomach so I had a little rest and lots of water before setting off for my leaving celebrations. I still had all day tomorrow to sort everything out and get packed – loads of time, what could possibly go wrong!!?

I had to cycle Bluey2 to Kaan’s Tequila boat, the venue for my final leaving party at 6.30pm. Kaan helped me on board as the promenade had not been finished and it was a bit of a to do to access the boats. He was also a bit worried that we had too many people as I think Kate had almost 30 potential attendees at one point. As I got on, one of my friends was stressed and came straight over to me, he had to get off because his wife was at home, quite ill and they couldn’t make it, which was understandable. Sarah arrived and had her dog, Yaps, in tow. Kate is allergic to and not a fan of dogs so then I had to faff about several times taking Yaps off the boat, but she kept getting back on. Yaps didn’t understand when I told her she wasn’t invited, and the boat was already too full for her to come, she just wanted to stay with Sarah. Kate had made one of my favourites, lemon drizzle cake and buns, which she had put on the table for all to share. She had brought my delivery from Trendyol (an online shop) for something that had arrived just in time for Vietnam. Kate had also took the opportunity to invite Shiela to bring her accordion and guests had been encouraged to request some songs for her to play later. I was very happy, who gets a real life accordion player at their leaving do? It was certainly a new first for me and I was so pleased. Mark had kindly taken over dog watch at the back of the boat as he could see I was getting thirsty while we waited for some stragglers! We waited another 10 minutes after the departure time, until 6.40pm, as we were still missing a couple of people who had not shown up yet. As we had only booked Kaan and the Tequila boat for 2 hours, we wanted to make the most of our booze cruise. Kaan’s fridge was so fully stocked with everyone’s preferences that we were certainly on for a great trip.
Kaan was much happier that we had only 20 people on board; 4 had cancelled because it was a bit too busy for them, 2 no shows, 2 because of sickness, 1 had to work, and 1 decided to wait in Aşkın’s bar as we would be back by 8.30pm.

Kate and Kaan arranged for us to go to Jimmy’s island, I did a short speech to thank everyone for coming. I confessed I would miss everyone and that I was lucky to have had the chance to have spent so much time with such fantastic people. I was so surprised to see so many come to see me off (or make sure I left). I cut the cake and everyone had a slice or a bun, it was so delicious and perfectly moist. I played waitress for a few minutes, to help Kaan out and to make sure everyone had a full glass as we sailed along the river.  Mark told me he had a present for me but he hadn’t wanted to give it to me in front of everyone (oo-er, that would get the gossipers going)! Kate had even suggested it would be more convenient if I could get it tomorrow, at their place, instead and I wondered what it could be. They both signed a card with a cat on to give me and I would keep it in my diary, which Ann bought me (to remind me of Dalyan).
Kate had got her play list at the ready and had selected a relaxed stargazing selection which had worked well for her before.
Shiela got her accordion out and we went on to sing a variety of songs. It was mainly Kate and I who did the singing but it was good to see Nanny Kay joining in on the ones she knew from singing group. Ma & Pa joined in too and Adam was forced to get involved when it was time for his request. Shiela had been learning ‘Friggin’ in the Riggin” by the Sex Pistols all afternoon and did a pretty excellent job while Adam, some of the men and I gave it our best shot.
It was absolutely brilliant, Shiela played lots of great songs and we all loved it. When Mark questioned Kate’s choice of playlist, as Van Morrison crooned ‘Moondance’, she decided to turn it up a notch with her playlist, to party and dance mode.

The drinks flowed and we were positioned in a beautiful location at Jimmy’s island. Adam got off for a wander and found some donkeys and an English caravan club member to occupy him.
I’d asked Annie to take some photos which was fortuitous as I either forgot, or took terrible ones. As we danced well past 8.30pm I realised I had a party dress stuffed in my bag, as well as a bikini and a towel which didn’t get used. I managed to change without going to the toilet, not revealing anything inappropriate, and I tried to get as many drunken photos with everyone as I could. I missed a few people out though which was disappointing.
Kaan was amazing, and much to my astonishment, didn’t set off back to Dalyan until 10.30pm because no one had given him the instruction to. Of course, I’d had no WiFi while on the boat so the people who had gone to Aşkın’s for 8.30pm had either gone home without seeing me or were a bit peeved when I turned up a lot later than planned. In true leaving party fashion, I was hammered, so were most of us who made it out out! Matt, Mark and Kate were almost as plastered as me and were so funny at Aşkın’s. Adam and Kath were definitely merry on account of none of us having eaten a meal since lunch. Viv’s husband, Paul, was glad to see her and Nanny Kay were back safely and was happy we’d had an incredible time. Jamie was still there and I’m so glad I got to have a hug and a chat before I left, especially as I’d hardly seen him this visit. Even Gareth and Julie were still out with family so I got to say farewell to them too. Debbie (Darling) and Roy had waited as long as they could but I was very disappointed I wouldn’t get to see them one last time. When I went back to join Ma & Pa at the table, Matt was buying a T-shirt and was trying it on – he doesn’t usually do many boat trips so I was impressed and happy he had made it. I even said Vanessa should go away more often as Matt was on top form, being the life and soul of the party a few times.
We had more drinks at Aşkın’s then went on to Sofra bar, which I don’t remember an awful lot of. I do remember my parents, Matt and I thinking we were the lasts ones standing at Sofra bar and deciding to go to Sunset bar for a last drink. They set off walking and I went to get my bicycle to ride there. When I arrived they weren’t there and I suspected they had given me the slip, but I still rode back to Sofra to check. Luckily, Davut and Şükrü miss nothing and said they had walked down the left path towards home. Merrily I cycled back to Sunset bar where I had drinks with Annie. We finished the amazing night off with me playing gooseberry and drinking Amaretto until about 3.30am. Good old Bluey2 managed to get me home, somehow unscathed. I didn’t quite appreciate the fact that this would be my last chance to sleep in a bed, until Sunday night in Vietnam.

Photo credit – Annie Miller

Dalyan – 27th May

Dalyan – 27th May

On Friday 27th May I’d called Mark when I got in, at 4.30am, to check he hadn’t fallen in to a ditch on the way home and he’d been fine. Kate messaged me around 9am, asking if I had been out with Mark last night. He’d got in around 4.30am but was unable to tell her what happened as he had fallen asleep. I updated her on the goings on and, when I told her about my foot she was very helpful. She offered to bring painkillers and a dressing because today we were off out on a day trip, which Kate had organised. By the time I had showered and checked my cut toe I had received a message from Des which was simply a photo of him having a beer while waiting for his airport pick up with Fikri. I messaged Maddie to thank her again as she’d been worried about me going home alone and had offered to come over if I needed her to.

My parents came to call for me, as we were meeting at Kaan’s Tequila boat at 10.15am, but I could hardly walk. There was spots of blood on the apartment floor and my sandals were ruined. As I hobbled towards the boat I told my parents of last night’s shenanigans. It was going to be a long day, luckily I hadn’t drank much last night but I could only imagine how bad Mark must be feeling this morning!
On board Kaan’s Tequila boat we grabbed a hot drink on our way to pick up Mark and Kate from their jetty, then off to a calm little bay for swimming. Kate sorted out my foot and dressing so that I could get in the water for a swim at Hole Island and Kath lent me her pink crocs so I could do the steps easier. Brenda (from Barnsley) gave me some paracetamol and within 20 minutes the pain had eased. There were a couple of hiccups before lunch; Kate cut her foot on some rocks and Kaan had assumed today’s guests preferred Efes Malt to normal and there wasn’t going to be enough for everyone. Kate decided to swim over to the neighbouring boat and do some beer swaps so that there would be more of what everyone wanted. Kaan made us a lovely BBQ lunch and we had a really tasty meal followed by quite a few vodkas for me, Adam, Mark, Kate and Kaan. There was plenty of swim stops, Mark and Kaan even treated the ladies to a ‘diet coke ad’ type shower together, which none of us can ever unsee. It was an honour to be in such winning company; not only had Kate brought her medal to show everyone but another guest had brought her swimming t-shirt for when she took part in the recent swimming event from Iztuzu beach. Mark chose to model both the shirt and the medal and we all got to touch them!

In the afternoon Kate banged on her playlist and we had a good old dance. Linda was the best dancer of the day as, not only was she a great mover, her stamina was worthy of a medal. Despite my recent injury, I managed to dance, my parents had a good boogie too and it was such a lovely bunch of people. On the way back in to Dalyan we dropped Mark and Kate off at their jetty and they were definitely staying in tonight. After another amazing boat trip a few of us went to Tez bar for another drink. I had invited Kaan to join us but he was too busy getting ready for Tequila bar tonight and his next boat trip tomorrow.
I could see my parents may have been persuaded to be out out, as they chatted to Adam, Kath, Jill, Mark, and Linda but I was begging for mercy. All I needed was to stop walking/dancing on my cut foot and rest up a bit.
I hobbled home, had a shower and a bacon sandwich while watching some TV, but was in bed by 11pm. I even managed to sleep through the loud Jazz Bar noise.

Muğla area – 21st May

Muğla area – 21st May

What a day Saturday 21st May was!!!
The Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Business had invited lots of us on a free day out to show us some of the local area and join in on a cultural day trip out. There were quite a few of us leaving Dalyan from the turtle roundabout at 10am and there were several buses and coaches ready to take us. Victoria Louise Scott and Alp Aslan had been instrumental in organising us and it looked to be an interesting day out. I was lucky enough to have a bus buddy, Linda, sit beside me, my parents were across the aisle and Mark & Kate behind me. Lots of familiar faces and friends were there too as we took a short drive to our first stop in Gokova. We spent about an hour exploring Idyma Antik Kenti, the ancient city of Idyma, where there was restoration work and amazing views from the ruins of a castle. Some of the group were more adventurous than others and spent time walking through the site. I’d worn sandals and didn’t want to risk slipping now that my leg was almost back to normal so I took it steady. The guide was very informative and there was tea or coffee provided in a shaded seating spot as well as toilets (both squat and western style). It was easy to spot our hosts Victoria Louise Scott (VLS) and Alp as they had outfits on that stood out. The sun was out, it wasn’t too hot to be sight-seeing and everyone seemed to be finding it interesting so far. We got back on our respective buses and we were off to a famous town in the Muğla area.

Our next stop was a place that my parents and I had been to more than once but we were still looking forward to it. The Azmak Turu (meaning Azmak creek) in Akyaka flows from Gokova and so a free boat trip was organised for everyone before lunch. We saw lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife, even some turtles. I took a few photos of the river and the people on our boat then relaxed and enjoyed the ride. We saw Adam and Kath who were there on a separate trip and they were coming in on a boat as we were leaving.
I had a feeling we might be running a bit off schedule as we were meant to be at another place of interest for 1pm. We were lazing down the river at 12.40pm but we were still all enjoying the free day out.

From Akyaka we went back on our buses to Thera Antik Kenti in Ula where we were the first tourists to see some important excavations. Very recently some ancient coins had been discovered and we were also able to see the team of archeologists at work at this ancient site.
When we arrived the road was not fit for the big bus we were on so we all had to get off and on to a rickety old dolmuş to take us ‘1km’. There wasn’t enough seats for everyone so I thought my parents were getting a lift in a car with the tour guide. Unfortunately, they were expected to get on with us and there was only standing room. My Mom is awaiting a hip operation and my Dad has bad knees but I could only choose 1 person to switch my seat with. Mom squeezed herself in to my seat behind a metal sign at the front of the bus and I stood at the back with Dad. The doors didn’t shut, my Dad’s eyesight is poor and I was worried he would fall out. The journey was certainly longer than 1km and was incredibly bumpy and windy – I was having trouble holding on and keeping upright.
By the time we arrived we were definitely running late and everyone was hungry. There was lunch provided and we got in the queue for a spinach and cheese pancake and an ayran (yoghurt drink). I had to be careful as both of these things can affect my stomach so I gave my Dad the ayran and just had the one pancake, my Mom had 2! We had a short but good speech from the mayor and then we went to find out more about the ancient site and have a look around it. We volunteered Mark to go to have a look beyond the path, with a police escort and when he came back we joked how funny it would have been to have brought some old coins and pretended to have found more. By this time it was noticeable that we were miles from anywhere with alcohol – a cold beer or a glass of wine would have gone down well. It was getting hot now and we were ready for our next sightseeing stop, after the rickety bus back to the big bus of course. This time we made sure that my parents and I had a seat but unfortunately this meant Chris and a few others had to stand up. I put my facemask on because of the amount of dust but they are no longer needed on buses in Turkey. We were meant to have been at our next stop a while ago, we didn’t eat lunch until 2.10pm and we were just back at the big bus at 3pm – about an hour over the scheduled itinerary.

Our next stop was only 15 minutes away and still in Ula, at a lovely wedding venue with a lake and a zip wire. Mark and Kate were off the bus before us and as I got to the door of the bar area Mark asked which wine I’d prefer. By this time we were all quite ready for an alcoholic beverage so I said I’d have any, not realising Mark was joking! There was a Turkish wedding taking place but there was no alcohol and there were a few disappointed faces. Someone asked the guide if there was any chance of a cold beer and suddenly the queue for the zip line turned in to the cold beer queue, as a crate was brought out. People grabbed seats where they could and had a chilled out time while watching others go on the zip line. My mom had to go off in search of a glass for my Dad as he won’t drink out of a bottle, he didn’t look too impressed that she could only find a water glass. The place was lovely but I only had time for 1 beer before it was back to the bus for our next part of the tour – it was proving to be the cheapest day I’d had for a while, as we only had to pay for our drinks. The Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Business really were giving us a very full day and there was much more excitement to come.

Our next delight was to visit the old village of Ula and join in on a procession through the main street to lead to the village square. Once there, we were ushered in to a shaded seating area to watch some folk dancing, amongst other specially arranged entertainment. I will be honest, I’m not a lover of organised fun and I could also see my Dad’s interest was starting to wane somewhat by this stage. The male folk dancers were pretty good and not dissimilar to Morris dancers in the UK, without the bells on. The female folk dancers looked less enthusiastic and gave the impression they would rather be getting back to cook dinner. There were free Turkish teas and ice creams going round but for some reason only Mom got an ice-cream out of the 3 of us. Some random savoury treats came round and we all got one but I gave mine, which was on the spicy side, to Little Corduroy. By 5pm we were watching with intent as volunteers from the crowd were asked to bite an apple on a string without using their hands. Next, there was a competition to see who could get a coin out of a dish of yoghurt with their mouth. By the time musical chairs was being played my Dad had decided he’d had too much fun for one day and my parents took themselves off for a walk. Amazingly, Kate and a Turkish man were the last to dance round the one chair and, when the music stopped, the man pulled the chair from under her for himself to win. Being in the teaching profession this neither surprised nor phased Kate and she accepted defeat gracefully to the cheating man, who happened to be one of the big wigs in Ula. His cheekiness was not ignored and Kate was awarded the winners medal – I never thought I’d be friends with a real-life musical chairs champion! There was a Turkish version of master chef next, where VLS made us chuckle by doing her impression of Greg Wallace (from MasterChef), trying to eat as much of each dish as possible.

As the day’s schedule continued to run over time, my parents had returned to sit on a bench behind me. I spotted one of our group, in fact a man who likes a drink now and then, stood behind an ambulance but in front of a building and decided it might be wise to see what he was up to. A few of us had struck gold; he was outside a pub, obscured by the ambulance, and they sold beer and wine. We didn’t intend not to go back but we just really fancied a nice glass of wine so Lily Fish ordered wine for us ladies while I popped back to our Dalyan audience members, including my parents, to let them know where we were.
Before too long the rest of our friends had joined us and the pub staff were like deers caught in headlights as we all tried to order first and second beverages. As Kate and Mark tried to leave to join us, Kate got asked to present another winner with their award so was delayed. This was fortuitous for us in the pub, as when she left, the dinner buffet had already opened so she brought us all some bread. Without further ado Chris was off to the nearest shop to buy crisps and, to top off our day of culture, we all had crisp sandwiches and another beverage.
We took over the beer garden and had a lovely time, even Alp and VLS arrived later, probably to check we were behaving. When Mom and I went to replenish stocks of bread we felt a little guilty as there were so many local people queuing to eat the free buffet dinner, so we just got a small amount of bread to keep us going.
After another crisp sandwich, one more beverage for the road and a good old laugh about our amazing day out, it was time to get back on the buses. I don’t recall if we saw the educational film about Ula but it was just after 8pm when we set off back towards Dalyan.

I may have nodded off slightly on the way back from Ula to Dalyan. When we got off the bus, my bus buddy, Linda, headed straight to the bakery who had stayed open for her to collect her lost purse and she was very grateful to get it, and the contents, back safely.
I had a spare breadcake in my bag and we had decided we were going to have a drink in Sofra bar. My parents, Linda and I tootled off to the bar where it was already heaving and we had to wait for Şükrü and Davut to sort us out a table. Mark and Kate were worn out, well that musical chairs medal must have been heavy, so they went home.
By 11.15pm Alp was doing ‘Tequila’ on the karaoke and rocking the place. Linda didn’t stay out, on account of her having to get back home and we only had a couple before realising we were tired. It had been an incredible day, something for everyone to enjoy and it had cost us only the price of our drinks. We were very grateful to all of the people involved in the organising; Alp, VLS and the Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Business.

Photo credit – from various attendees of the day trip including Alp Aslan and Victoria Louise Scott

Dalyan – 16th May

Dalyan – 16th May

I woke up on Monday 16th May to news that Captain Caveman had booked my flight to go to Vietnam next month and all I had to do was apply for a visa online. The cats were fed, the plants were watered and I had fruit cake with Red Leicester cheese for breakfast. In the afternoon I cycled back to Captain Caveman’s apartment on Mark’s electric bicycle to be greeted by a tortoise. I had no idea how it had got to be shade-bathing near to Amanda and Greg’s apartment but it was surprisingly spritely. I tried to feed it some leaves but to no avail and so I left it where it was to wander about, while I put some washing in. The pool was starting to look much better for a clean and a refill and I looked forward to getting in it when I moved back home, in a few days time.

That afternoon I met up with my parents, Des had gone to Kargıcak beach for the day with a friend. We decided on a visit to Dalyano where I had a couple of margaritas (well, it was a Monday) at 90 lira (£4.60) each. They were pricey but very good and the place was very busy for a Monday afternoon. For dinner we went to Yakamoz which has always been a firm family favourite and, as we ordered wine, I remembered when I came here with Kelly, Claire and Clare – it seemed so long ago now. The staff at Yakamoz were lovely and even took some group photos of us, despite the strong sunlight intruding on the quality of the images. Dad and I drank red wine to go with our beef casseroles while Mom had white wine to go with her fresh fish and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
By 7.30pm I had to get back to Mark and Kate’s for the cats so I said bye and rode off. Tomorrow I had a very busy day ahead and I needed to get organised to start to leave Dalyan.