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.
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.
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.
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.
I was surprised I was able to get anything constructive done on Monday 28th March but, surprisingly, I managed to function after last night’s drunken shenanigans. There was quite a lot of cleaning up to do which I did in stages with lots of breaks in between. I had a cheese sandwich, 2 glasses of sprite and half a packet of biscuits for breakfast before pushing on with a busy work schedule. I had Baba Ghanoush on bread for lunch and Vanessa came over that evening to finish off our Turkish homework. She managed to drink wine but I could hardly bare to pour her a glass. I managed to pack up some more stuff to take over to Mark and Kate’s tomorrow for my 10 nights of house and cat sitting. The hangover lasted all day but I had leftover curry with freshly steamed rice for dinner then went to bed super early – I was broken!
Tuesday 29th March started with a breakfast of cheese and quinoa crackers. I spent the morning on my laptop and was expecting a message from Kate to tell me what time to get to their’s to commence my house and cat sitting. It was a warm day and I’d emptied my fridge of perishables to take with me, as well as taking the leftover wine. I arrived at Mark and Kate’s just after 2.30pm by taxi, which cost just 35 lira (£1.82) for a 10 minute journey. They use Fikri, a local fella who is very nice and reliable. He was aware I was moving in and said if I needed anything to give him a call. When I arrived, I was surprised to find that the fridges and freezers were so fully stocked that I would struggle to fit anything of mine in and so I left Mark trying to cram stuff in for me. Kate ran me through a few last minute plant watering tips and presented me with a written list of tasks and helpful info. A delivery of booze came and I helped Mark carry it in to the house – there was already a lot of wine and beer for me to help myself to. They both grabbed a beer, I had a white wine and we walked down to the jetty for one last drink together before their taxi came. Mark had cleaned the barnacles from the ladders in to the river in case I wanted to swim, my room had been tidied and had a new electric bicycle in it. Kate picked some lemons as I said I would make some limoncello while they were away. She and I fed the cats together so that I could have a run through what to do; the oldest one gets fed indoors, by herself, while the other 4 eat together outside. We all said bye when Fikri arrived to go to the airport, with plans for them to return on 8th April. I had a top up of wine and saw that in Vietnam the intra-ASEAN travel restrictions had been updated. I’d be able to go between Vietnam and Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This was good news as I had just received a response from the embassy to say they were no longer granting 90 day visas for tourist entry to Vietnam so I would only be able to get a 30 day online visa, initially anyway. Also in the news China was not looking good, as Shanghai went in to lockdown, more here: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220329/shanghai-locks-down-as-covid-surges-in-china-s-financial-hub/66385.html I went outside with more wine and had to fight most of the cats for a position on the sex swing. I spoke to my parents who were back from their celebration weekend away and we chatted about that. It turned out I didn’t have to submit my passport anywhere and I could have gone back to the UK, so that was annoying. For dinner I decided to order food from China Town; prawn toast, prawn crackers, chicken fried rice and sweet and sour chicken. I only managed half of the meal due to the portion sizes being rather substantial, it was really tasty and piping hot. When bed time came I was fortunate to have all of the cats snoozing in the living room so my first night of cat sitting went well.
Sunday 27th March was a great day in Dalyan, the sun was shining and I still didn’t have any Corona symptoms – I was feeling a lot luckier than some of my friends too. As I had invited 6 people over to mine this evening for a meal, it was time to get preparing and get out the spare chairs. I decided I would have a tidy up and make some veggie wraps for a starter, taking in to account allergies. The beef, potatoes, carrots and curry paste were already in the slow cooker and would be ready before lunch time as I’d been up so early. I popped to Migros supermarket for a few essentials and here’s what I bought:
Fresh bread 3.00 1 bag of pasta 4.20 Hummus 15.05 2 Avocados 15.90 1 bag jasmine rice 16.50 1 jar of peanut butter 17.95 Cling film 19.90 1 lipsyl 24.95 Lavaş wraps 26.50 1 bottle of red wine 56.90 2 packets of sanitary towels 71.60
Total spent 272.45 lira (£14.16)
By lunch timetime I had eaten a couple of the wraps to test them out. They both had carrot, red pepper and avocado in but some with peanut butter and some with tahini – they were quite nice and very healthy. I transferred the cooked beef masaman curry in to a pan and washed my jasmine rice, ready to put it on while I went out to meet my mates. Vanessa came over around 2pm for us to do our Turkish homework together, I was out of water so we had to have wine! By the time it got to 4pm we still hadn’t finished it but had arranged to meet Matt, Julie, Gareth, Mark and Kate at Okyanus for a drink. I bunged the rice in the slow cooker and off we went. We had a couple of drinks there while sat in the sun then, decided to grab some wine and beers from the shop and go back to mine. Julie and Gareth felt they were imposing but I insisted there was enough to go round and was glad I’d made the starter. Of course the rice was overdone having been at Okyanus an hour after I should have turned it off but we made do. There was just enough room for the 7 of us, we had a good laugh and gave the ball a right old kick. The masaman curry went down well and I even got my cheese and pickles out for afters – it would have been lovely with a bit of fruit cake too! Some people had a bit too much wine, including Kate, who refused to go home and fell over. Her and Mark were eventually the last to leave after the 2nd taxi was called and I insisted they go home as I had work tomorrow and still wanted to watch the Grand Prix, which I had recorded. I managed to watch the Grand Prix, drink more wine and go to sleep in the early hours of Monday morning, after a fun-filled weekend.
Kate and I were up before Mark on Saturday 26th March and we were still chuckling at how upset he had been over me having a piece of his beloved fruitcake. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely saw where he was coming from; it was moist and full of fruit with cherries in so I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be sharing it willy nilly. I had toast with butter, homemade strawberry jam and a cup of Yorkshire tea for breakfast then got ready to head home. More bad weather was forecast and I wanted to have a go at walking in to town to ensure I knew the way and check out how long it took me. My leg was still not back to ‘normal’ and the longest I walked without pain this year had been for less than 15 minutes so I was intrigued. Mark got up and offered me a lift, Kate suggested I hang on and walk in with her but I decided I’d like to get back early as I intended to go to the market. I had a very leisurely walk and I took photos along the way, mainly to jog my memory of where the house was for when I stay there. As I got to bar street the roads were still an absolute mess and I found it very difficult to walk from where Rumours is to the riverside path. I was pleased to report the walk took less than 30 minutes and was very pleasant but I did need to elevate my foot when I got in and rest for a bit. I didn’t bother with the market in the end as I realised I didn’t need much. In the afternoon, I joined Vanessa, Matt, Mark, Kate, plus Julie and Gareth, who had just arrived, at Rehab bar. We heard that even more people who I knew, and had been in Sofra bar last Saturday, had tested positive for Corona. I decided it would be a good idea to invite the gang over to mine tomorrow for a curry, that way limiting how many new people we would come in to contact with. At Rehab bar Tayfur ordered us chicken wraps for dinner and I noticed my eczema had spread to my hand now. I’d only had 3 beers but maybe it was a reaction to gluten starting up again.
I was hoping to sleep in on Friday 25th March but I was awake at 7am. My first task was to do another Lateral Flow Test then I got weighed and took my measurements while I waited the 15 minutes for the result. I had put 1kg on but my LFT result was negative and I still had no symptoms so I probably could have gone on the Akyaka trip. It was better to not be the one blamed for passing it on, though, so I was happy to stay home. For brunch I had turkey ham with quinoa crackers, brie and olives while sat outside in the sunshine on the balcony. I packed a suitcase ready to move in to Mark and Kate’s house for a spell of cat sitting while they spent 10 nights in England, from next week. When I arrived in the taxi, with a small suitcase full of winter clothes, I realised I may have underestimated the weather. Kate was mowing the lawn in short shorts and Mark looked like Hull’s answer to a long haired Crocodile Dundee! Kate had kindly invited me for dinner, which was already prepared for a feast later. Mark was instructed to erect the swinging chair by the pool, which I jokingly renamed the sex swing. A cold beverage was had and I moved my stuff in to the spare room, which I was pleasantly surprised to see had been tidied up a bit, even the cannisters of petrol had been removed. Just after 4pm I got a message from Ann, she had tested positive for Corona. I hadn’t seen her since Saturday, I was already negative but I was still concerned in case I had it and gave it to anyone. Kate’s reason for going to the UK was to visit her mother so it was important that her or Mark didn’t catch it. We decided to try to keep ourselves away from any new or untested people between now and when they left Turkey. The dinner which Kate had cooked was a feast and I was really spoiled. There was roast pork (my first in 6 months), Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, honey roasted parsnips (I don’t like parsnips), sprouts with Turkish sausage and chestnuts, mashed swede (also not a fan), mangetout, carrots, cauliflower cheese, stuffing, apple sauce and gravy. It was like Christmas and it was almost emotional! I tried the parsnips and the swede and actually liked them, I even had extra helpings of the parsnips. We drank wine, chatted and I got to know the cats a bit more. Kate was keen for me to wear her leopard print dressing gown so that the kittens could snuggle and wouldn’t miss her, but I thought that might be above and beyond my role! There was more wine, Mark brought out a cheese plate with Kate’s homemade membrillo (quince jam, for the unfamiliar) and I was in heaven. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Kate announced she had a treat for us (no, not the leopard print dressing gown). Homemade fruitcake with proper butter and cheese was served to Mark and I, he looked distraught that Kate had given me a slice of ‘his’ cake! I thought Mark was joking but he really was upset that I was eating some of his precious cake and that Kate had told me which tin it was in! It was going to take a lot of willpower not to eat all of it while they were away – honestly I wasn’t sure if I had that level of restraint. It was a great night with lots of stories and laughs and I stayed over as it was pretty late.
On Thursday 24th March I still had no Corona symptoms but another friend had messaged to say she’d been feeling a bit under the weather this last couple of days. She had started with swollen glands on Tuesday and yesterday had been resting a lot, feeling tired. I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably get the virus but I just hoped I wouldn’t be one of the ones who would still test positive for ages after it, I needed to be negative to get in to Vietnam! I had a croissant for breakfast but was still peckish so had bread, olives and Baba Ghanoush too. I read in the news that Singapore was to reopen to fully vaccinated international tourists, more here: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/singapore-reopen-borders-all-fully-vaccinated-travellers-apr-1-existing-vtls-will-be-retired-2582986 I masked up to meet the blind man at my parents’ apartment (there’s a joke in there somewhere) at 9.30am. He came to measure up and I had the unenviable task of picking out some bedroom blinds. I’m a fan of boring/plain interior furnishings and think a room can always be brightened up with removable patterns and colour. There wasn’t an awful lot to choose from that didn’t have a Turkish feel so I went with a plain creamy beige, hoping it wouldn’t be too vanilla for Ma & Pa. I paid a 500 lira deposit and the blind man said it would take a week or two for the blinds to be made, but he would message me. I had another go at putting up the curtains, I didn’t want to fall doing it so I made a mental note to ask someone taller than me to help before my parents arrived. I had a bit of a cycle on Bluey2 around the local area but it was incredibly windy. For lunch I had some Saag Aloo and decided to stay away from Zumba in case I developed any Corona symptoms. I did the decent thing and asked the organisers of a trip I was going on tomorrow if I should stay away, or if a negative LFT result tomorrow morning would be sufficient. Unfortunately, when all the attendees were asked, there were 4 people who were due to go back to England soon so they asked that I didn’t join the trip, in case I was a symptomless spreader. I’d been looking forward to joining Vanessa and Matt on the trip to Akyaka but I was also happy to be cautious for the sake of others, given how many people in my circle of friends were positive at the moment – there would be other times. I didn’t go to darts at Rehab for the same reason but instead I had another one of Emma’s pies for dinner. The steak and onion pie with carrots, broccoli, gravy and Henderson’s relish went down lovely with 3 glasses of red wine. I even treated myself to cheese and crackers for afters, I could taste and smell everything perfectly well and still had no Corona symptoms. Debbie (Darling), on the other hand, was quite unwell. In the evening I managed to be able to video call my sister’s phone so that I could wish my Mom a happy birthday, and I was sad that I wasn’t there. It looked like they were having a wonderful time and I was glad to see everyone was a bit merry and having fun. I decided we would celebrate again in a month’s time when my parents would be here in Dalyan.
I woke up with 4 out of 5 cats in, or on, my bed on Wednesday 23rd March. I was hungover and vaguely remembered last night agreeing to leave my door open so the cats could get used to me, ready for the cat sitting next week. Kate brought me in a cup of Yorkshire tea in an appropriate mug and then got herself ready for art class. I went back to sleep for a bit and really did not want to get out of bed at all. I didn’t relish the thought of walking home so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mark was still home and was happy to give me a lift in the buggy, he was going in to town anyway. I had a pain au chocolat for breakfast at home before Turkish class, then put all my cat hair covered clothes in the wash and had a shower. Turkish class was really good today and I felt like I was learning more hearty sentences that I would be able to use. The staff at Lukka are very good too at encouraging us to practice our Turkish skills. For lunch Vanessa and I went to Rehab bar where Tayfur ordered us a chicken wrap with chips from Cafe Dalyan. It was only 30 lira and was tasty so we ordered one for Kate for after her Turkish class. Penny and Phil arrived next and decided another chicken wrap was in order and I bet the delivery guy thought we were odd, as he came over for the 3rd time. Jo arrived next with her cute little dog, Charlie, and we all had a good old natter. I’d had an update that the embassy would no longer be able to process a visa for me and was waiting to speak to Captain Caveman. He called as soon as I had finished eating and I went outside to speak to him. As is often the case, Captain Caveman had a Plan B for me coming to visit. He told me to look for a flight and apply for just a 30 day e-Visa. We would then fly out of Vietnam and back after getting a 2nd e-Visa for another 30 days, if I could. This all seemed straight forward but given that I would need a negative PCR test to enter Vietnam I had to be careful I didn’t pick a flight with a long lay over. We agreed a Turkish Airlines direct flight from Istanbul would be better but they had no flights on as yet. I would continue to wait but it was going to happen, I would go to Vietnam. I also had a date in the diary to be in Saigon on the 10th June for an important event which Captain Caveman had already committed to. I went back in to the bar, a little giddy that there was an alternative plan, but then there was some bad news. Debbie (Darling), Roy and Sue were all positive for Corona and had aborted their trip to Pamukkale. They had got a taxi back to Dalyan and Debbie (Darling) was quite poorly. She asked me to let everyone know, who had been in contact with them, that we needed to do another test. I had been in close contact with all 3 of them on Monday so it was probably only a matter of time until I caught it now. I went home, via the ongoing roadworks and scenic route, and had red wine, bread, cheese and olives but didn’t do a test as I’d had alcohol. A massive thunderstorm and heavy rain was due which also meant the WiFi went off for quite a few hours.
It was still cold when I woke up on Tuesday 22nd March. I ate cornflakes for breakfast then started to cook. I had a bit of excitement planned for tonight as Vanessa had invited me to a curry night at Turgay’s. I had promised to make some Baba Ghanoush for Kate so I started with roasting garlic and aubergines. My next dish was making Saag Aloo to take with us to Turgay’s and I made a big batch so I could save some. It was Zumba Gold class at noon and it was really good, I was getting the hang of it now a bit more. I went shopping in Migros and bought the following:
I went to the off-licence and bought 2 more bottles of wine (a red and a white) but had to get Buzdağ because there was no Tılsım anymore. The manufacturer had been taken over so all supplies in Dalyan had been exhausted, or other expats had already bought it all! The 2 bottles cost me 135 lira which is about £7 at the current exchange rate. Before curry night, Mark & Kate came for a glass of wine (or 2) at mine. After packing up the Saag Aloo, wine and Baba Ghanoush we walked over to Turgay’s where Matt, Vanessa and Figan were already there. Turgay and Figan had prepared chicken curry, rice, roast potatoes and bread for us all and we sat at the dining table to enjoy it. The food was lovely and the drink and conversation flowed. Luckily, my spinach and potatoes went down well, Kate’s homemade onion bhajis were very tasty, plus Vanessa had taken doughnuts for dessert but I was too full for sweet stuff by then. When we left I walked to the main street with Mark and Kate to wait for their taxi. They invited me for more wine at their’s and I accepted. Mark went to bed and I sat up chatting and drinking wine with Kate until about 2am.
As I didn’t go to bed until the early hours of the morning on Sunday 20th March, I was extremely tired and decided a day of doing as little as possible was on the cards. I felt a few tremors of an earthquake but couldn’t work out if I was just feeling hungover and tired. Mark had left to join in the sweeping of the new road, which Alp had organised, from Sofra bar. The intentions were to sweep sand in to the cracks to help the workmen, Sarah had been busy making sandwiches for the volunteers. I ate strawberries for breakfast and went back to bed for a bit then I watched Netflix, did some Turkish practice and relaxed. For lunch I only just managed some red pesto mushroom pasta then had a nannan nap. When dinner time came round I couldn’t be bothered to cook so I just had cheese on Jacob’s crackers and thoroughly enjoyed it.
When I woke up on Monday 21st March I was really missing Captain Caveman. I saw a photo of his (our) home in Phong Nha on Facebook and wished it was easier to get over there. There were more complications about the visa situation, where people trying to apply via the embassy were in a backlog of processing. In Phong Nha temperatures had reached 33°C and I missed that too.
In Dalyan it was 4°C and news of more earthquakes off Crete which I’d felt yesterday. I had grapefruit and strawberries for breakfast, before opening up the laptop at the kitchen table. For lunch I had some Quinoa crackers with brie and olives but I should have eaten more. Inevitably, it would be one of those Mondays and I should have known. John had messaged me that the Rum bar was having an opening party today, to which we were all invited, so I cracked on with some work in order to finish early and attend. I also sent a message to Sarah, Debbie (Darling) and Ann to ask if they were going and to say I’d see them there from 4.30pm. In the afternoon I had a wander to Migros supermarket and bought the following essentials:
After dropping my shopping home I went to join Andy, Kaye, Mark, Kate, Chris and Jackie at Okyanus for Kaye’s farewell drinks. The sun was shining and the Efes was cold, after 2 beers the sun was going in so we wandered up to Tez bar to catch the last of the sunshine. It was past 4.30pm when we arrived and Debbie (Darling) had already made her way to Rum bar to meet me. There was no word from Ann but Sarah was running late, as she was still working. Sue was at Tez bar and had recently had her cataract operation so she looked like a pirate. We just had the one beer but had a few laughs while we waited for Sarah to come. I temporarily forgot about Kate’s peanut allergy as I shelled and ate the complimentary ones, then tried to get her to eat some. Debbie (Darling) returned to Tez, having not found me at Rum bar and she pretended to be cross, Ann had decided not to join us.
Sarah arrived, after a busy working day, and we all went to Rum bar which had some gorgeous cocktails. I started with a Pina Colada then discovered they had a Ron Zacapa rum which is one of my favourites. I finally got to meet Cameron and Betty who were in Dalyan on holiday after not being able to visit due to the pandemic. Unfortunately they were only here for a short holiday but it was good to get to meet them in person at last. The atmosphere at Rum bar was good and a fire kept the chills off as the temperature dropped.
We all said our farewells to Kaye then Sarah and I walked back along the river towards home. On the way we decided we were hungry so would go for a Chinese at China Town. It was my first visit to ‘eat-in’ since the renovations and reopening – it looked good. I ordered chicken in black bean sauce, egg fried rice and prawn toast while Sarah opted for a half portion of sweet and sour chicken. It was unfortunate for Sarah that she had to have a work related telephone conversation on loud speaker throughout the duration of our meal. Luckily, there were only a couple of other customers in at this late hour on a Monday evening. I took a small amount of left over chicken home and felt exhausted when I got in.
Photo credit – Alp Aslan, street sweeping. Phong Nha Farmstay, Elements Collection.
I didn’t sleep until 3am and was awake at 7am again on Friday 18th March, I’m not sure why. I went back to sleep then didn’t wake up until 10.30am. I lost 0.5kg on the scales this week and the cycling, Zumba, and walking were definitely helping with my leg muscles – I’d put 1-2cm on thighs and calves. I had cornflakes for breakfast then I went over to my parents’ place to put the curtains back up. I found I was an inch too short while precariously standing on the step ladder and had to abandon it. I booked in a cleaner, found a yoga class that I inquired about and did a few other jobs. Ann messaged to ask if she could come to mine to do an LFT to check if she had Corona as she had felt like she had swollen glands, unfortunately I was out so we arranged for her to come tomorrow morning. A few more people that we knew in Dalyan were testing positive recently so we wanted to double check. Captain Caveman was at Karst Villas, in Phong Nha, with Caroline, her dog V and Hung and it looked really hot there. I had a delivery from Emma Cevik of some pies, of which I had a mince and onion one for lunch with mushrooms, broccoli and gravy. I snacked on dates for afters and stayed home in case I had caught Corona but didn’t have any symptoms yet. That evening I ate the last of the (never-ending) teriyaki chicken with pasta, had cheese and pickled onions then did some writing.
Saturday 19th March was a busy and challenging day for me! I had booked the cleaner in because the apartment was full of dust and the floors were still dirty from the workmen. Ann came round at 9.30am so she could do a Lateral Flow Test. I’d already done my test and was negative, then we waited for her result which was also negative. We called for Vanessa before 10am and walked to the market. I bought potatoes and onions from the first stall for 24 lira, then peppers, carrots, mushrooms and aubergines from the next stall for 60 lira. I couldn’t resist getting another punnet of strawberries for 40 lira but 124 lira (£6.39) was the most I’ve spent at the market so far. Our bags were heavy as we walked back to town with the intention of all 3 of us going to Sofra bar for a bacon sandwich. Vanessa realised she had to get back and decided not to join Ann and I but when we got to Sofra the electric was off. It was a day for rugby but the England match wasn’t on until 11pm so I wasn’t sure if I would make it. After dropping off the market produce at home, I decided to go to Star Gurme to stock up on some non-Turkish food supplies. I bought the following: 1 Pesto sauce 15.00 2 baked beans 30.00 1 box cream crackers 30.00 1 brie 45.00 1 Curry paste 60.00 2 Coconut milk 70.00 1 Lurpak butter 80.00 3 cheddar 150.00
Total spent 480 lira (£25)
I managed to do all the talking in Turkish and the lady gave me a free box of Quinoa crackers. I popped in to Rehab bar but there were only the pool fellas in, no women as yet, so I met Sarah, Rach and Ann at Jiks for a beer. Vanessa joined us and then we went back up to Rehab bar to rejoin the pool lads, meet Kate and watch the rugby. I spoke to Captain Caveman about plans for a visit to Vietnam and we concluded that I needed to send my passport to the consulate in Ankara to get the 90 day visa and that I should do this as soon as possible. Unfortunately this would mean I wouldn’t be able to go back to the UK in a couple of days time. Matt and Mark were very practical and helpful with offers of us hiring a car for a road trip to Ankara and I messaged Sonuç to get a price for if we hired a driver. Kate and Vanessa were also on board with the idea and I was super excited to be able to have a way to get a visa. Finally we had a loose plan, as long as the embassy were able to grant me a visa. After pool, most people went home, they were the sensible ones. John and Andrea decided to go to Sofra for dinner so Mark, Kate, Ann and I decided to join them. I’d only had 3 beers by this time and I was purposely trying to pace myself as Kate had already asked if I minded keeping an eye on Mark, watching the rugby and him staying at mine. She hadn’t been feeling too good and fancied a night at home so I accepted the challenge. I was extra careful on the roadworks this time and was looking forward to some food as I’d not eaten since breakfast. I ordered a chicken stir fry and a glass of red wine for my dinner and in fact all of us, except Mark, ordered a chicken stir fry which came out at various times with it being so busy. I really enjoyed my food which was fresh and piping hot but I felt bad that Ann and Kate had to wait a bit longer for their’s when they were hungrier than me. Mark’s burger seemed to take ages and had still not arrived when I took an extra stir fry to Tayfur at Rehab, as he had a foot injury and was on crutches. When I got back the mood had changed somewhat because Mark had decided he no longer wanted to wait for his food, which was taking longer than expected. Kate had phoned a taxi to go home as planned, John and Andrea were also going home but Ann and I had ordered another wine. Unfortunately due to too much wine things didn’t quite work out as I’d imagined. Ann went home while Mark and I left Sofra to go back to Rehab bar, as arranged, to watch the rugby with Tayfur. We had some red wine, a disappointing result for England and a pretty late night. It was my turn to navigate us through the roadworks this time, we got back to mine without any injuries and, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to stay up ridiculously late.
I woke up later than intended on Wednesday 16th March, in the spare room at Mark and Kate’s house. I checked my phone and there was some good news in the Vietnamese news today; there was no longer a requirement to quarantine on entry into Vietnam, more here: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1165267/viet-nam-drops-covid-19-vaccine-certificates-quarantine-requirements-for-foreign-arrivals.html Kate had already left for her art class before her Turkish lesson. I’d brought some cooked rice and teriyaki chicken with me last night, which we didn’t eat, so I made egg fried rice for breakfast and Mark made strawberry and oat smoothies. I needed to be at Turkish class by 12 so Mark gave me a lift back on his motorbike. I went home to have a wash and clean my teeth but the water was off. I think I may have still been a bit drunk as the Turkish class felt like the longest ever, usually the time flies by. I’d said I wasn’t going to bother with going out that afternoon but I was peckish again. Vanessa and I wandered to Wonky’s for a chicken wrap for lunch even though I was feeling delicate. The food was lovely and only 35 lira (£1.80) for the wrap and chips but I started to feel unwell after, when my hangover kicked in. The pool lads had decided on Wonkys for their games today and there were the usual reprobates plus the darts people. Penny, Phil and Ann arrived so I soldiered on, then Madge arrived and had a cold. Later Kate joined us and when Phil told us a story of him vomitting in his face mask, I had to run to the loo to be sick. I took some sickness medicine which Ann had to pick me up from the pharmacy and I managed to walk home with Vanessa and Matt. That evening I was feeling much better so I had teriyaki chicken with steamed rice for dinner and then an early night. Tomorrow I would be inspecting my parents’ decorating which was coming to an end.
Having been awake until the early hours I was surprised to be up by 7am on Thursday 17th March. I’d been eagerly awaiting news of the visa situation in Vietnam and was pleased to discover that, as well as an online 30 day visa process, 90 day visas for certain people were being considered via the embassies/consulate. I sent an email to them to ask for a 90 day visa, even though I would not be going to Vietnam for that long, because I did want to be there for longer than 30 days. I checked out the flights and, unsurprisingly, there were still no direct flights from Turkey. The ones that were showing were around £800 return, which was too much to pay – I would wait. I was still holding out hope of going back to England for a week to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday and the flights there were cheap, coming back were a bit more expensive though. I went to meet Mehmet at Lukka bar so we could go to check on the work at my parents’ place and had a cup of tea while I waited. At Ma & Pa’s I was happy to see it looked good and they had even done a better job at cleaning up than the workmen at my place. Next, I met Ann at Hotel Dalyance for a Turkish breakfast. I always love a Turkish breakfast but I have generally had to avoid them due to most of the ingredients giving me a dodgy stomach. I had no plans for the rest of the day so thought I’d chance it. The breakfast was lovely and I really enjoyed it but I did suffer when I got home. For a late lunch I had teriyaki chicken with egg fried rice then had some homemade Baba Ghanoush on bread. In the afternoon we got some bad news; Madge, who had joined us at Wonky’s yesterday, had tested positive for Corona. Penny messaged to let me know I needed to do a test, so I did and I was negative. Penny and Phil were negative, Ann didn’t have any tests so was going to stay home for a couple of days and see if she got any symptoms. We were lucky that none of us had any symptoms but it was possible we would test positive in the next couple of days, I messaged all the people we were with to let them know. I decided to cancel my plans to go to Rehab bar later for darts and my seat at Lukka music bingo tomorrow – just to be on the safe side. It was a shame that it would be my first St Patrick’s day in Dalyan but I wouldn’t get to celebrate it. For dinner I had grapefruit, from Mark & Kate’s trees, with cheese and egg fried rice and it was delicious.
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.
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!