Dalyan – 5th December

Dalyan – 5th December

I ate a buttered crumpet (from the Mulberry Tree restaurant in Fethiye) for breakfast on Sunday 5th December and, whilst it was delicious, I did get some stomach pains and was a bit bloated.
In the news, questions were raised about if Corona vaccines will be made mandatory in some countries, here’s the link:
I had some messenger chat with Captain Caveman who was doing well but we discussed that going to England for Christmas might be a bad idea. The number of cases was rising, I had no insurance, my return flight could get cancelled and most of all I might contract Corona between having my Turkish PCR test and getting to my parents. My mom was due to have an operation at the end of December so I was reluctant to put her further at risk than was necessary and, apart from going back to visit people, I needed to sort out my banking situation. Having said that, I wondered if moving my trip to January might be better.
I arranged a video call with my parents to discuss and I aired my concerns about coming back and potentially not being able to go out, if restrictions increased or things got worse with the virus. I’d already changed plans of staying in London or travelling down south to catch up with people as soon as I arrived. My parents said it was up to me but they were happy to take the risk of me still coming to visit and my mom said she would check the rules of when she had to isolate and test negative before her operation. We left the call with me deciding to sleep on it because I had another important meeting to get to. Vanessa was at mine ready for our trip to Tez bar, just round the corner – we were going to confirm the times of our PCR tests, do our Turkish homework and have a glass of wine. I ended up having 3 glasses of red wine and Tez helped us practice our Turkish by introducing us to his daughter who works in Ortaca. Tez also managed to flog us some prawns at 70 lira (£3.79) a portion, they were lovely but we had to order some extra chips to go with them and the sauces were a bit random. That night I was going to stay in but as I went to the shop and then needed the toilet, I had to call in to Jiks, where I had pizza and another glass of wine. Here’s my shopping, from Migros supermarket, prices in lira;
1 pack of biscuits 2.75
1 pack of turkey ham 3.15
1 caramac type chocolate 6.50
2 packs of crisps 8.00
1 pack of wraps 11.25
1 pack of spinach 11.90
1 pack of chicken breast 20.03
Chestnuts 24.95
6 mini magnums 27.50

Total spent 124.03 lira (£6.70)

Dalyan – 28th – 30th November

Dalyan – 28th – 30th November

Crikey, I was poorly on Sunday 28th November!!! I’d been up a few times in the night with a bad stomach and I woke up so dehydrated and hungover that I had to go back to bed. I had to cancel meeting up with Vanessa and Janet to go to the Christmas fayre and I really did think I had just got a bad hangover but it seemed to get worse as the day went on, no matter what I did I could not recover. Vanessa hadn’t been able to come to Maddie and Onur’s housewarming on account of her being ill so I did wonder if I may have got something similar as there was a bug going around. By the afternoon my shoulders and chest muscles were aching and I felt like death. While the people of Dalyan went out and about, the sun came out and I spent all my day between sofa, toilet and bed – I’d only had a litre of wine over 7.5 hours last night so surely it wasn’t just a hangover!
In the Vietnamese news there was a few reports that the international tourism trial was not working and there were a few problems with that. I did have some good news that day though, friends who I had met in Phong Nha had sent me a wedding invitation for 2022. Bryan and Kendra, who will be visiting Dalyan for New year are getting married in Georgia and so I got a save the date, which is great news – I’ve never been to Georgia so it would be a good excuse!

By Monday 29th November I was still not much better but I forced down some cornflakes, I still had a bad stomach, muscle aches, a headache and was a bit clammy so I didn’t do much.
In the news there was an official update of the requirements to enter England, effective from 4am on 30th November and to be reviewed in 3 weeks, these would be the rules that would apply to me on my forthcoming visit:
By 3.30pm I decided a bit of fresh air and a trip to the shop might be in order. I could hardly concentrate and felt terrible as I bought the following:

Migros Supermarket

1 plastic bag 0.25
1 pack of polos 2.50
1 Bounty 4.95
Crisps 7.00
1 gold chocolate 7.00
1 litre of cherry juice 7.50
4 Probiotic drinks 12.26
1 pack of chicken breasts 20.85

Total spent 62.04 lira (£3.60)

On the way back from the shop Sara (from River Terrace) brought my order from the Christmas fayre that I missed. When I got in the apartment, I ate the Bounty and some crisps washed down with cherry juice and went back to bed. When I woke up I felt a lot better and decided to make a proper meal for my late dinner. I had beef köfte and homemade chips with BBQ sauce and all seemed fine. Later I had a mince pie and a chocolate orange truffle (from Sara) and my stomach was kind of ok. Unfortunately I had cancelled having a curry at Ann’s tonight as I didn’t know if I still had a hangover or if I had a bug. I hoped I was better for tomorrow as Vanessa and I had a very important trip planned.

I had hardly any sleep and felt like I couldn’t do a bus journey on Tuesday 30th November so I had to cancel Vanessa again – it’s a good job she’s understanding. Instead, I forced buttered toast down and went back to bed, I had cups of tea and lots of water but didn’t really start to recover until almost dinner time. It was a cold day and I had lots of layers on so I decided to have meat and potato pie with carrots, mushrooms and gravy to make me feel better. It was not only delicious but I was almost back to normal by bed time and the pastry didn’t give me a bad stomach.

Dalyan – 22nd & 23rd November

Dalyan – 22nd & 23rd November

I had a busy day at the start of the week on Monday 22nd November. The lira was at 15 to the English pound so my money was now at half the value of when I put it in the bank, which was disconcerting. I was too busy checking all the up to date rules for my forthcoming trip to England that I completely forgot to have any breakfast. I found that I was going to need all of the addresses of where I would be going in the first 10 days of my stay so that I could put them on the PLF, I also needed to decide on at least 1 address to stay at, for the first 2 days – this was going to be tricky as I didn’t really have a plan as yet, but I needed one before I left Turkey. I decided to have a bit of a clear out so that I could donate any bric-a-brac to the white elephant stall at the Christmas fayre this year and I came across a lamp without a working bulb. I had a walk to the Millennium shop to buy a replacement to see if it worked and the weather outside looked like it might rain at any time. The forecast had said to expect a lot of rain this week and so I decided to go to the new A101 supermarket on the high street and Migros to stock up on essentials.
Here’s what I purchased, I will let you decide what was actually essential:

A101 Supermarket
1 packet of chicken noodles 2.20
2 bottles of soda water 2.70
1 pack of sigara böreği 6.90
2 packs of crisps 10.40

Total spent 22.20 lira (£1.48)

Migros Supermarket
1 plastic bag 0.25
1 pack of biscuits 2.50
2 simit 4.50
1 Bounty 4.95
1 packet of bechamel sauce mix 6.45
1 toastie loaf 9.95
1 jar of tomato paste 9.95
1 pack mushrooms 11.49
3 probiotic drinks 12.75
1 pack lasagne sheets 13.95
1 can baked beans 17.95
1 jar of pesto 22.95
1 pack of beetroot 24.90
1 bag of chestnuts 24.95

Total spent 167.49 lira (£11.17)

While I was packing my shopping I saw Maria from Askins estate agents and we had a little chat, then I paid and left to go home.

The lamp bulb was replaced, it worked so I decided to keep it and, after dropping off the shopping and eating a simit for a quick lunch, I decided to go for a walk to the doctor’s. I got a message from Maria to say I had left my Migros card at the supermarket but she had it at work and I could stop by to collect it, which I did – it was really kind of her to do that. My app said I could go for my 2nd Pfizer jab now so I thought I’d make sure that I was still booked in, especially as I needed to have 14 days clear before I landed in England. It was a nice walk along the river but the streets where the road was being taken up was a mess. The doctor confirmed I should come at 9.45am on Wednesday for my next Corona vaccine so that was good as it gave me 2 days spare. On my walk around town I bumped in to Viv who had just been to Alp’s Balıkcim for sausages, which made me want some. Alp has a section of English stuff so I made a few purchases as a treat:

Alp’s shop
1 bottle of HP brown sauce
1 can of baked beans
1 jar of tandoori paste
6 pork sausages
1 Cumberland sausage wheel

This came to a total of 150 lira (£10) but the beans were on offer at 12.50 lira so I couldn’t resist buying another for 5 lira cheaper than in the supermarket.

While I was out, Ann had messaged to ask if I fancied meeting at Heybe’s for an early dinner so I did. She had wine, I had tea and when she ordered her usual chicken schnitzel I decided to go with the potato skin starter. When it came it had a jacket potato with it and was gorgeous but I couldn’t eat it all so I took the jacket potato part home to have with my leftover Sunday dinner tomorrow.
By the time I got home it was dark, had gone quite a bit colder and I saw that the Vietnamese Corona cases were on the rise again.

It was probably the coldest day so far on Tuesday 23rd November and I was wearing a fleece indoors as I ate my simit, cheese and olives for breakfast. I decided I still needed provisions for the massive week of rain that was forecast so I togged up and ventured out to the shops again;

Şok Supermarket
3 red onions 3.22
1 packet of roast chicken bags 4.15
4 carrots 7.16
4 probiotic drinks 19.80

Total spent 34.33 lira (£2.29)

Migros Supermarket
Bread 2.00
Flour 6.35
Quark 6.90
2 cans of grapefruit drink 7.90
Milk 8.75
Eggs 9.95
Chicken pieces 12.95
Cornflakes 12.95
Cheese slices 16.70
2 Glass containers 19.74
Red cheddar 37.95

Total spent 142.14 lira (£9.48)

Selçuk Market
Washing powder 21.50
4 Efes beers 56.00

Total spent 77.50 lira (£5.17)

I also picked up a bottle of wine from Tolga’s wine shop for 45 lira (£3), never mind the rain I was ready for a blizzard!

I had a late lunch which consisted of my leftover Sunday dinner and yesterday’s leftover jacket potato (both from Heybe’s) which was absolutely gorgeous. My next mission was to make a lasagne from the bolognese that I had bubbling away in the slow cooker and could use my new glass containers for batch freezing some of it. I got peckish while it was cooking and ate a Bounty and then some chicken pieces with BBQ sauce. When the lasagne was ready I had to taste some so I cut off the ends and ate those, it was really good and I would look forward to more of it in the next couple of days. I’d been watching a series on Netflix called Cuckoo, with comedian Greg Davies in, and was finding it quite entertaining so I watched more before bed and set the alarm so that I didn’t overlay for my important appointment tomorrow.

Dalyan – 6th November

Dalyan – 6th November

It was my parents’ last trip to the weekly market on Saturday 6th November and when I arrived at their apartment they had obviously been discussing what they needed to buy. My dad knew we would be making the most of their last week in Dalyan and that my mom isn’t too keen on cooking so he was saying they didn’t need to buy much, if anything. My mom was still keen to go because she thought they would need some salad stuff so that Dad could continue to make their lunch most days. I was out of olives and potatoes so I needed to get more, it was a lovely sunny day as we walked to the market and we bumped in to Onur, the musician. At the market I bought potatoes, mushrooms, olives, dried figs and dates for a total of 69 lira (about £5.50) so I had an eclectic mix for breakfast which was more like lunch time and I sat outside to watch the building work activities for today.

The columns next door were being poured today and a concrete machine was pouring it in from above while the workmen gave instructions and tried to steer the pouring arm in the right direction. Later, I had a trip to Migros supermarket for a few provisions and more Tupperware, here’s what was in my shopping basket;

1 pack of Turkey ham 3.65
1 can of pink grapefruit drink 3.95
1 pack of smoked chicken 5.50
Bin bags 7.90
1 can of chopped tomatoes 8.25
1 pack of cheese slices 8.50
2 probiotic drinks 8.50
1 sliced loaf 9.95
1 hair conditioner 19.25
2 Tupperware boxes 23.66
1 pack of frozen fish fingers 29.60

Total spent 128.71 lira (£9.50)

I had a 2nd lunch/snack of a turkey ham salad sandwich with pickled red cabbage and I opened a bottle of red wine. I only had a couple of small glasses because tonight the 3 of us had a special night planned.

I decided to wear my poppy dress for our night out, mainly because I didn’t know if Remembrance Sunday was this week or next but also because it is the warmest dress I have and the nights were quite chilly these days. The 3 of us walked up the main street of Dalyan and decided to have a drink at Aşkin’s where we bumped in to a few of the Dalyaners, including Rebecca and Nanny Kay, who I would be seeing on another boat trip next week. We just had the one drink there and then we walked back to Bistro Blue where I had booked a table for the 3 of us. We had a choice of inside or outside but we plumped for inside where it was all cosy with just 3 tables. Annie and Selahı welcomed us as usual and we took our seats ready to peruse the menu. Selahı recommended we have some red wine which he would normally have on the menu at a more expensive price than Tılsım but because this was their last weekend of being open he did us a good deal and only charged us 120 lira (£9) and it was very nice.

Dad and I shared a bottle of it while Mom had a glass (or two) of white wine, Dad ordered liver and onions with bacon but Mom and I had to go for steaks seeing as it would be our last night here this year! Unbelievably, while we were between starters and mains a couple came in and sat down and the man asked Selahı where he gets his meat from, not a usual question but it put the idea in my head that I knew this man from somewhere. It turned out that he was also from Sheffield and had been at a Leo Houlding talk at The Foundry in Sheffield, 8 years ago. He was surprised I remembered but he was a keen climber and we got chatting a bit and they ordered food. Another couple who had quietly been enjoying their meal got chatting too and we were surprised to hear that they had been coming to Dalyan for a long time but this was their first meal at Bistro Blue. The food was incredible, we were really looked after and we ended up having another bottle of wine, then Dad went on to the brandy and lemonades. Işmail, the flower man, came to say hello and Dad asked to buy 2 roses for Mom and I. Mom then had to pay for them as Dad doesn’t have money on him – and they say romance is dead. We had a great night and were pretty drunk when we eventually left Bistro Blue with arrangements made to meet up with Annie and Selahı soon.

Dalyan – 4th November

Dalyan – 4th November

I had a day trip planned on Thursday 4th November with Vanessa, Matt and my parents so I had my probiotic drink and then some cornflakes with milk for breakfast. I made sure I had some chicken stroganoff at the ready for when I got back from today’s boat trip out to sea with Yusuf from Amy’s Bar. Yusuf was busy renovating a 6 bedroom villa which he would rent out from next year but he still had time for boat trips while the weather was nice. We all met near Tez bar just before 10am, we were the first on to Yusuf’s boat where Yusuf, Hakan and Murat were preparing for the day ahead. A Turkish mom and her son joined, followed by a well-dressed Polish couple, so 9 customers in total. As we set off down the river and towards the beach there was Turkish tea and homemade cake for everyone, I was conscious that the cake might not suit my stomach so I didn’t have any but I did have 2 cups of Turkish tea. Before we could get to the sea we had to navigate the shallow sandbanks where lots of boats get stuck every day so we were all asked to go to the very front of the boat and sit on the floor. That was easier said than done for quite a few of us and once down I wondered if I would be able to get back up. Hakan is a good boat captain so he got us through without too much fuss and we were on our way along the coastline towards Devil’s Bay. Vanessa and I noticed that there were border patrol boats at sea and these were because of the trouble between Greece and Turkey with migrants trying to get to Europe via Turkey, this was the first time we had seen these and there were quite a few massive boats on the horizon. When we got to our spot at the little Devil’s Bay it was time for swimming. Everyone but me and the Polish couple went in, they were disappointed as they didn’t know the itinerary for the day and thought they were just going on a river trip for an hour or two, so didn’t bring swimwear. I still couldn’t get my healed wound wet so I decided to take photos and then test the beer out, it certainly passed the test for coldness! There was a gorgeous BBQ lunch and we all had a drink before heading back towards Dalyan, where we almost got stuck on a sandbank on the way past the beach. I was sunbathing on the front of the boat and chatting to Vanessa thinking we were finished for the day but then we went to Çandır lake for another stop, we were definitely getting our money’s worth on this trip.

When we got back to land Dad was sad that the day had ended and wanted to be out out, even though we had said we weren’t going out tonight, I’d got a stroganoff to eat and mom was doing tea for them at home tonight. I called at Şok supermarket for some essentials;

1 plastic bag 0.25 (I had forgotten my bag)
Bread 2.00
3 carrots 2.38
1 packet of crisps 4.50
1 pack of ‘lady’ items 14.50
4 probiotic drinks 17.00
1 box of mini magnums 27.50

Total spent 68.58 (£5)

I’d just took my bra off and got comfy when I got a message from Mom to say that Dad had left his swimming shorts tied to the back of the boat, she didn’t want to give Dad an excuse to go back out for more drinking so asked me if I would be able to get them back for him. I messaged Yusuf and Hakan but there was no reply as they were probably settling down for dinner with their families. After eating an ice-cream after dinner, I had a stomach ache and then was ill, this was a good test as I needed to eat more of what I might be allergic to before my testing, although it could be due to the 2 beers I had drank on the boat.

Dalyan – 2nd November

Dalyan – 2nd November

The building work next door woke me up earlier than I would have liked on Tuesday 2nd November, the lovely sound of hardcore being dumped. My hangover was pretty bad as I’d drank 6 large glasses of wine last night, which is the most I’ve drunk in a long while. It was now officially the winter season here in Dalyan so our pool and garden man had drained the pool, he still hadn’t tidied any of the debris and litter left in the garden borders I noticed, when I went out for lunch with my parents. Dad had decided we would go to Yener’s Place who might be closing soon and the sun was shining again so we could sit out with a river view. We sat outside even though the leaves were falling from the trees quite a lot now but we were catching the sunshine while we still could. My parents went for one of their favourite lunchtime meals, tuna sandwiches and I decided to see how an İskender kebab would go down with this hangover I had, especially as quite a few people had recommended I try the one at Yener’s. It was good but gave me a bad stomach after eating only half so I took the rest home then ate the rest of it once I felt better in the afternoon.

Mom and I went to Migros supermarket for some essentials while Dad had already gone home. At the shop I bought the following items, priced in lira:

1 tub of quark 6.90
2 bottles of Activia probiotic drinks 7.50
1 pack of sanitary towels 10.00
24 toilet rolls 29.92
1 box or washing capsules 47.50

Total spent 101.82 lira (£7.60)

Vanessa had mentioned that she has probiotics every morning to try to help with her dodgy tum so I thought I’d have a go too. That evening Vanessa came over with a bottle of wine and we decided to get a Pizza 48 takeaway. We ordered a salami and mushroom one and a beef, onion, and peppers one on the deal that comes with chips and a can of pop. I also decided to try the chicken nuggets and we paid half each for the takeaway. When we got home they hadn’t given us the chicken nuggets we ordered and paid for but I didn’t have any credit on my phone to message them to let them know. The pizza was good but we couldn’t manage it all and I couldn’t manage much wine either as I’d had too much the previous night. Vanessa and I did have a good laugh putting the world to rights and planning to have some fun while both her and her husband, Matt, are in Dalyan.

Dalyan – 21st October

Dalyan – 21st October

Thankfully, Thursday 21st October turned out to be a lot calmer and I was starting to feel better from the cyst, even though I still couldn’t wear a bra. I didn’t bother with breakfast because I’d eaten so late last night and was still full. The building work next door was now at the stage where the shuttering was going up and I noticed that the remaining bougainvillea was sprouting some leaves on one of the trees. I decided to take a few books round for my dad because they don’t have a TV or internet at their place and he spends his free time reading, he was already getting through the books he had. I made a list for shopping as I planned to go on the way back to grab something to go with lunch. Tonight I had arranged for us to go out with Maddie and her family but my parents had organised a night out with their friends and Maddie’s parents were still in Kaş, so we weren’t sure if it might end up being just me and Maddie.
When I arrived at my parents’ apartment my Dad had decided he was going to go for a shave and a hair cut at the barbers and my Mom gave him some spending money to go with. She and I went to Migros supermarket together to get some shopping and then went back home.

My shopping, for all of you who love a nosey at my shopping trolley. Prices in lira, as usual;

Bread 2.00
Tomato puree 3.95
Small bin bags 6.50
Quark 6.90
Mushroom soup 7.95
Crisps 8.00
Big bin bags 8.95
2 tins of sweetcorn 10.52
1 bottle of white wine 56.90

Total spent 111.57 lira (£9.46)

I didnt realise sweetcorn can be pricey in Turkey, especially compared to Vietnam, and there was even 25% discount! On the other hand, can you believe that’s including a bottle of nice wine, too!?

I ate a very late picnic style lunch then managed to squeeze in a bit of blogging and another episode of You on Netflix. By the time I was leaving to meet Sarah for a drink at Tez bar the building work next door was in full swing with the metal grid work already being laid ready for the concrete pour. Sarah was already there when I arrived, a little late, she ordered an Efes and a cheese toastie while I treated myself to a blonde ale at 38 lira (£3.22) but it was really nice and I enjoyed it as Sarah chatted on and then Süleyman turned up and joined us. I didn’t stay long as the sun had gone in, I was cold in my shorts and I needed to get ready for tonight. In the end we decided we would postpone going to Egehan until the parents could join us, I’ve been wanting to try it for a while so it was a good idea to wait until we could all enjoy it together. I was also quite happy to have a dinner at home – a good portion of Lancashire hotpot, done in the oven with a sprinkling of cheese. Ma & pa chose to eat at Kebapçı Yusuf for a second time and stayed out having a lovely time with their friends for a lot longer than I could’ve managed – I dont know how they do it! Before bed I read some rather concerning news that the UK daily Corona cases were 52,000 (this time last week they were 45,000) and this started to worry me about it impacting my visit in 2 month’s time. I could not afford to catch it or be stuck in a lockdown in England and I hoped they would be able to get it back under control before it got too risky again.

Dalyan – 13th October

Dalyan – 13th October

Wednesday 13th October was my parents’ first full day in Dalyan and my second day of taking antibiotics. We’d all stayed at Captain Caveman’s apartment last night, ma and pa wanted to nip over to their apartment to drop their bags off and get changed this morning, so we agreed to meet at Jiks for breakfast at 10am. I went to the bank and got some cash out in readiness for whatever activities we would do today, with it being my parents’ holiday I wanted them to be able to choose want they wanted to do, I know they will have missed Dalyan as they hadn’t been for nearly 2 years. When I got to Jiks pub at 10am it was still closed so I decided to pop in to Migros to pick up a bit of shopping that I couldn’t get yesterday (they had ran out of milk).

I bought the following from Migros:
Milk 5.90
Cherry juice 7.95
Cherry jam 8.76
Cornflakes 9.90
Turkey ham 12.90
Cheese 24.95

Total spent 70.61 lira (£6)

By 10.25am I was tottering on the very wet floor at Jiks as Adem, the bar man, was watering down the gardens and floors. I waited for my parents for a bit and they arrived about 11am, they were probably still on English time but I was getting peckish. Mom had a huge bacon and mushroom sandwich, Dad had a full English breakfast, and I had a full English without eggs or tomatoes. The portions at Jiks are good value and the food there was really good, as we scoffed we decided what we would do for the rest of the day and tonight. My parents would spend the day sorting stuff at their apartment, getting some shopping in and I was going to try to make myself feel better, I was in pain and the tablets made me feel so drowsy and a bit seasick. The cyst had started to get bigger and definitely more painful so I spent most of the day putting hot towels on it to try to ease it a bit. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Captain Caveman was going to get a typhoon and everyone was prepared for floods in Phong Nha, here’s more info:

Because we ate breakfast late I didn’t bother with lunch, Ma & Pa came to mine for 6pm, as agreed earlier, and we took a walk in to town to go for a drink. Before going out I decided to put a blister plaster on my infected cyst, hoping it would draw out the badness or help it to heal quicker. We had drinks (no alcohol for me) at Aşkin’s bar and Işmail, the flower seller, came by, as he does every evening to say hello, my Dad bought 2 roses, one each for us. We bumped in to a friend, Gültekin, at his barbers and he had got married and was expecting a baby, since we last saw him. For dinner Dad suggested we go to one of our favourite restaurants in Dalyan, Bistro Blue, which we were lucky enough to get the last table at. It was great to see the owners, Annie and Selahı, and the 2 waiters were still there, it was a shame I couldn’t join in on drinking wine but my parents had a bottle of red, even though mom had wanted white. I had courgette fritters to start which were more like a courgette bhaji and came with a mango chutney, mom ordered garlic prawns and dad had cheese rolls but they shared. They opted for liver mains and I ordered a pepper steak which was so delicious that I forgot to take a photo of it, which means I will have to go again.
The food was gorgeous and my water very refreshing but I didn’t feel well because of the cyst and just wanted to take my top off as it was irritating the soreness. After the food we sat out in the bar area, me with a Turkish tea, mom with a coffee and dad with a rather large brandy and Sprite – we even got posh after dinner chocolates too. We reminisced about the last time we had all been together with friends (Claire, Clare and Kelly) and had danced the night away here. Bistro Blue had made some improvements to the toilets and furniture since we were last here and, as always, it was still one of the best places to go in Dalyan – we love it there!

Dalyan – 12th October

Dalyan – 12th October

Tuesday 12th October was the day I would get to see my parents again, after almost 2 years. The last time I had seen them was when Captain Caveman and I had said bye to them from Jiks pub, in Dalyan, on the 25th October 2019 when we thought we would see each other again in May 2020. Of course the pandemic destroyed those plans and when my parents knew I had escaped from Vietnam they were keen to be able to come to Turkey to see me. I was awake before 8am with quite a hangover (which I blamed David for), needing to have a substantial breakfast and to start the medication for the growing and infected cyst on my left shoulder. I had turkey ham, cheese and a simit and then I did some tidying for my parents’ arrival. I was a bit peeved that I wouldn’t be able to drink but we could make up for it once my cyst was removed.

By 9.30am I had been to Migros, the supermarket, for a bit of a shop but I can’t carry too much at once even though it’s not too far to walk. Here is what was in my shopping bag, with the prices in lira:

1 fresh bread 2.00
1 simit 2.25
1 pack of spaghetti 2 95
2 packs of biscuits 4.50
1 pack of razors 5.50
1 tin of chopped tomatoes 6.81
1 tub of quark 6.90
1 toast loaf 8.95
1 tin of baked beans 17.95
2 Tupperware boxes 19.90
1 jar of tahini 20.75
500g mince beef 25.90
1 box washing capsules 34.90

Total spent 159.16 lira (£13.50)

As you can see carbs and tomatoes are cheap here, tahini and meat not so much.

For lunch I had my leftover Sunday dinner, seeing as I had forgotten about it yesterday and I had one of Emma’s apple pies for afters, which I warmed in the oven. My meal was delicious and I enjoyed having a hearty lunch as I had a bit of a sickly feeling, which I thought might be the tablets. By the time my parents were due to land at Dalaman airport there was a full blown rain storm here, I quickly removed my cotton tablecloths from the tables on the balcony and replaced them with the old plastic ones.

When ma & pa arrived at just after 5.30pm, the rain had died down a bit, they had just 2 small bags of hand luggage and their masks on, of course. Once they had taken their masks off we had a big hug and I nearly cried, even though I was so happy to see them. I got ma & pa a welcome beer, they told me about their journey and I told them about my hospital visit and the bad news that I wasn’t drinking for a week. For our first night we had decided to go to one of our favourite places to eat, Pammukale restaurant. They have been going there for years and the owner is really nice, I’ve also loved it there ever since they introduced me to it. Dad ordered a special pizza, mom ordered a tuna and onion pide and I had a mixed pide. Dad had white wine, Mom an Efes beer and I had a cherry juice, we shared a side salad and some chips and everything was so delicious (I didn’t try any of the tuna and onion pide, for obvious reasons). As we were walking home we saw Sarah and Debbie (Darling) having a wine in Jiks so we sat with them for a drink.

As we were chatting we saw a regular friendly face, Işmail the flower seller, who gave my Dad a big hug! He’s such a lovely guy and from time to time my Dad has been known to purchase one or two of his fresh red roses, which keep for ages. After taking my evening tablets I was so zonked out that I could hardly keep awake and I think the dosage was quite high for me, the good news was that my ankle had stopped hurting as much as it had been. We got back home, went to bed and arranged that we would go out for breakfast in the morning.
In the Vietnam news I saw a photo of one of the cities which had been hit hard with Corona and were now offering Sinopharm vaccines, people were crowding to get a jab!

Dalyan – 7th October

Dalyan – 7th October

It was a mix of a day on Thursday 7th October; news that Vietnam planned to open again in June 2022 were posted on the internet, the number of Corona cases in Vietnam had dropped considerably, the weather forecast for next week was looking cold and wet here in Turkey, and a few fully vaccinated friends in the UK were positive for the Corona virus. Before breakfast I went over to my parents’ place where I had arranged for my cleaner at Fire Opal to give their place a once over before their arrival next week. I did a small shopping trip too then Sonuç messaged to say he needed a copy of some paper work for my residency, again.

Here’s my shopping list and costs in lira:

Şok supermarket

1 plastic bag 0.25
2 lemons 0.77
Bread 2.00
3 carrots 3.28
1 packet of Turkey ham 3.50
1 packet of plain crisps 4.50
2 packet of biscuits 5.00
1 bottle of pomegranate sauce 5.50
Honey 5.90
Rock salt 12.45

Total 43.15 lira (£3.82).

I had arranged to meet Annie and Anne at Alegria for lunch, the owner of Yummy’s had taken over the old Safran restaurant and made Alegria her new eatery, right on the river, opposite the tombs. The place is lovely and they have a very large menu to choose from, which I’d not been used to having so much choice and it took me ages to decide. Eventually Annie and I ordered the steak salad, Ann had the crispy chicken and the food was absolutely lovely. I even had a pineapple and watermelon juice as I was conscious of not having eaten enough fruit of late and, although it’s not the cheapest place in town, it really is good value and the portions are large (I took home leftovers) and the location is gorgeous. In the afternoon I met Sonuç at the insurance company to ask about renewing my health insurance policy because I needed a 2 year policy for my residency application.
That night I decided to have a night in and, because I’d had a big lunch, I just had leftover steak salad and nibbles for dinner while watching a bit of Netflix. I’d had a productive and enjoyable day and I was ready for a relaxing weekend.

Photo credit – Annie

Dalyan – 28th September

Dalyan – 28th September

The sunrise was at 7.20am on Tuesday 28th September and I took a photo out of my bedroom window to send to Captain Caveman, he sent one back and told me he was off round to Stu’s house today. I decided to scrub more of the kitchen stuff and ended up throwing away one of the pans that had the old oil in it, it was like jelly and glue mixed together and it was taking ages to even loosen up, it must have been in the oven, wedged in to a baking tray with 2 oven gloves, since the last customer stayed here in 2020. For breakfast I had hummus, salad and olives and by 10.30am some of my draining board Jenga had collapsed on account of us having a very small earthquake, a couple of pieces of the worktop fell off!

I got the slow cooker out and made bolognese, which made good use of some of the 2 year old Dikmen wine and smelled so good. Our Aussie friends, and owners of the apartment downstairs, who are still locked down in Australia, asked me to take photos of their plants to see if they had survived, they were missing Dalyan and couldn’t wait to be able to visit again.
I went to get more shopping and had seen a new shop advertising Vegan cheese on Facebook so decided to have a look in there too.

Here’s what I bought in each of the 3 shops I went to, and the prices:

Şok supermarket
Popcorn 2.60
Rice 5.90
Fairy liquid 10.25
Lentils 12.50
Parmesan cheese 17.50

Total 48.75 lira (£4.13)

Şevikoğlu supermarket
Potatoes 2.88
Aubergines 4.96
Red cabbage 5.27
1 tin of tomatoes 7.90

Total 21.01lira (£1.78)

Dalyan şarküteri
1 tub of black olives
1 tin of coconut milk
1 Lurpak butter
1 vegan cheese
1 cheddar cheese
1 Sharwood’s sauce

I’m not sure of the individual prices but the total was 267 lira (£22.63), it was so expensive because I was buying imported products, but it’s a very nice shop.

I had finally got a Turkish phone number now and I arranged to pick up the keys for my parents place, later in the week so I could check on it for them. We were still hoping they would be able to come out to Turkey to visit this year so I was keeping my fingers crossed. My mom had said she might be able to bring me some bras and my UK bank card if they came out and I hoped she had room for my popcorn maker too – you can buy ready made popcorn here but it’s made with oil so it is fattening.
For dinner I had some of the Bolognese with pasta and it was so good, some went in the fridge and the rest in the freezer, I watched more of The Fall on Netflix before bed as I needed another early night – tomorrow it would be 1 week since I arrived in Dalyan and I had exciting plans.

Dalyan – 27th September

Dalyan – 27th September

I woke up early on Monday 27th September but went back to sleep, it had been 1 week since I had woken up in bed with Captain Caveman, but it already felt longer and we had hardly spoken in that time. Having eaten loads of things that I probably shouldn’t, on the boat trip yesterday, my stomach was playing up and so I didn’t dare leave the house to do some of the things on my to do list. I had cornflakes and milk for breakfast then crisps and cherry juice for lunch and I was putting off having the allergy test in case I found out I was allergic to something worse than gluten or dairy – what if it was wine!? I did some laundry, washed some pots that had been left in the oven by some guests, for a long time, with oil in (nice!) and I unpacked more of my stuff. I took photos of our pergola and overgrown bougainvillea plant which was desperately ready for a cut and I was glad that King Emlak were sending the gardener round. It looked like some residents in grounds and shops near to our gate were using the space as a dumping ground for their rubbish instead of walking it to the nearby bin – why are people so thoughtless when it comes to litter!?

In the afternoon I managed a trip to the supermarket, the phone shop and the bank.
Here’s what was in my shopping basket and the prices:

Migros Supermarket
Onions 1.21
Garlic 4.74
Quark 5.50
Toast loaf 6.45
Pasta 6.75
Hummus 7.95
Tomato paste 9.95
Mushrooms 10.90
1 tin of baked beans 14.44
3 chicken breasts 23.73
500g beef mince 25.60
Toilet paper 42.75

Total spent 159.89 lira (£13.55)

My Turkcell SIM card cost just 190 lira (£16) and came with data and minutes, not quite as cheap as in Vietnam but it would do the trick for me to be able to use internet banking again. When I got back the gardener was still working on the garden, even the rosemary and orange trees had been growing a lot more than I had anticipated and it was clear we would need to do something about the pergola which was in a state of disrepair and had a cat sleeping in it. I finally got to speak to Captain Caveman who was doing well and wasn’t missing me yet. By the evening I was feeling a bit better so I went to Pammukale restaurant and picked up a takeaway pide and side salad. It is one of my old favourites and the quality is consistently good, my parents have been visiting this restaurant for years and we all love it. My pide was really tasty and I was going to save half, but (obviously) I didn’t.

Dalyan – 24th September

Dalyan – 24th September

When I was in Phong Nha, Friday night was all you can eat pizza night, now that I’m in Dalyan, Friday is fish and chip night. On Friday 24th September I had pre-ordered my fish and chips at Lukka Bar, local restaurant/bars not far away from our apartment. I was very excited to be having fish and chips, having not been to the UK for 3 years, it would probably be one of the English meals I do miss from back home, even though I had eaten it a few times in Vietnam.
When I woke up Captain Caveman had sent me a video of the rain where he was and it didn’t look good, potential flooding was still possible and he wasn’t going anywhere. I also kept checking the Vietnamese Corona data to see if there was any increase in cases in our village, as Bich had been told by the policeman. Interestingly, there were still no cases reported in Khuong Ha, like last time and they never increased the lockdown the day after I left, as Captain Caveman and I had suspected. This was not the first time we had been told there were positive cases near us and then it turned out not to be the case. Captain Caveman and I think that when a person is suspected of being positive and goes for testing they are assumed positive regardless and the gossip goes round that they are, when they come back negative nobody is shouting about it – very misleading and causes unnecessary panic.
In Dalyan it was sunny as I headed off to the Millennium Shop to buy a battery for my scales, on the way I noticed the new pergola at the entrance to Block A on our complex, it looked nice. There were 2 new places behind Jiks Bar; a coffee roasting cafe and a pet shop, I got 2 batteries for 15 lira (£1.27) and then walked to Migros, one of the main high street supermarkets, where I bought quite a bit of stuff.

For those of you who want to know what was in my shopping basket that morning and the costs of the items, here it is:

Migros Supermarket
2 simits 2.25
Washing up sponges 4.95
1 packet of salami 6.85
1 litre of cherry juice 7.95
Cornflakes 7.95
2 packets of biscuits 8.00
1 packet of cheese slices 8.50 200g of butter 8.50
1 litre of milk 9.25
2 croissants 9.80
Bin bags 9.90
Mouthwash 15.21
Ziplock bags 15.50
Toothpaste 17.95
3 liquid soaps 39.36

Total spent 204.92 lira (£17.37)

I noticed that people were wearing masks in the shop but not social distancing at all. At the check out I was surprised to see my loyalty card still worked and I was pleased as I got a 3 for 2 deal on soap.
It wasn’t an average weekly shop though as there were quite a few things that I would only shop for every now and again and I couldn’t carry all that I needed to in one go.
Back home I noticed the pergola to Block B (our’s) was leaning under the weight of the extremely overgrown bougainvillea plant and I had a little sit down as my ankle was hurting, I was definitely finding the walking about slow and a bit painful, but I was doing ok with the 2 sets of marble stairs at home. I was excited to have a battery in my weighing scales and was looking forward to seeing how much weight I had lost. I checked it 3 times, just to be sure, but I wasn’t happy – I was the same weight as when I left Turkey 20 months ago! I could tell it was from eating so much bread recently, which was not good at all. I still had a huge breakfast of 2 croissants, 1 simit, and a bowl of Turkish brand cornflakes with normal milk as I was feeling hungry, none of this made me ill.

Video from Captain Caveman in a rainy Phong Nha, Vietnam

For lunch I met Jamie at Lukka Bar where he had 2 starters, nachos and chicken strips, which were huge portions and I had my first Turkish restaurant meal, a chicken shish, which was also massive and I took half home for tomorrow. There’s a new shop next door to Lukka Bar, it’s Katrina’s shop and has some really nice items in there – it also smells divine! Maizie Moo has quite an upmarket, luxurious feel to it and looks really nice, I even got some free samples to try as well as having a good old sniff at all the scents. My eczema on my face had been made worse by the wearing of a mask for 48 hours and so Katrina recommended a skin treatment which I started straight away (here’s the Facebook page for her new shop: https://www.facebook.com/maiziemoohomescents/).
After having lunch and a mooch round Maizie Moo’s we were sensible and went home, 2 years ago we would have been on an all day and night session but we needed to take it easy as we had booked for tonight not fully realising what we had let ourselves in for!

Not only was it fish and chips night but it was also Lukka’s Bingo night, this week was a 90s theme. Sarah had organised it and had booked a table for 8 of us. Jamie ordered Hunters chicken and chips, while the rest of us had fish and chips, mine with plenty of vinegar. It was good but took a while to be served as the place was full and so we were all a bit tiddly by the time the 90s bingo started. My fish and chips plus the red wines came to a total of 127 lira (£10.76) and I definitely got a large portion. Süleyman arrived later and sat on the end of the table, next to me and Jamie, ordered a burger and we ended up having a right old laugh. There was lots of photo and video taking (by other people) and so we gave it our all on the singing, mainly because it had been such a long time since we’d all got together and we were having a great time. I’m not a massive bingo fan but the games were well planned and Mehmet was so amusing as he was reading out the songs! Here’s a video of bingo at Lukka bar:
One thing I had noticed about being back in Turkey was the amount of people still smoking and I found it hard to deal with, especially as I’d not encountered many smokers together in Vietnam, so when the bingo finished I went home, reeking of fags – I was definitely going to get through more hair products in Dalyan if I had to wash my hair more often!

Photo credit Lukka Bar, Jamie & Sarah

Dalyan – 23rd September

Dalyan – 23rd September

I woke up before 7am on Thursday 23rd September, expecting it to be almost lunchtime. My watch said 10.45am but that was still on Vietnamese time which is 4 hours ahead of Turkey. I had slept well but was still tired and hungry again. I had more of the provisions from Leanne for my breakfast, adding the şakşuka/baba ganoush that I’d brought from the plane which had leaked a bit, then made a list of all the things I needed to do. One of my first jobs was working out which keys are for what and checking all the stuff I packed away in locked cupboards, just over 20 months ago, surprisingly it was still ok. I also started a shopping list as I would need more stuff and I needed a new battery for the bathroom scales ready to see how much I weighed, I didn’t have any scales in Phong Nha. I was slightly concerned that I had been near to more people last night than I have in months, in Vietnam. Today I would try to have a quiet day, I got busy with unpacking and doing some laundry. I only had some almonds and cashews for lunch (taken from one of my plane journeys). For dinner I decided not to go out to eat, as I was struggling to stay awake past 6pm so I went to the local kebab shop and ordered a chicken kebab and chips. When I got it home I watched more Netflix and ate the delicious chicken wrap, I didn’t really need the chips. It would be interesting to see what the scales said tomorrow as I definitely felt like I was lighter than when I was last here so we would see – being back in Turkey with so many eateries and bars open was going to be hard though, the diet would be almost impossible with so much food choice here.

Here’s my shopping from Leanne which was very kindly popped in the fridge for when I arrived (prices in Turkish Lira and is about 11.8 lira to £1):

From Migros supermarket
1 carrier bag 0.25
1 apple 1.34
3 cucumbers 1.93
1 pear 2.29
1 bottle of water 3.25
1 pack of chicken slices 3.95
Tomatoes 5.02
Bread 5.50
1 pack of gluten free biscuits 5.95
1 pack of cheese spread 6.25
1 pack of salami 6.85
1 pack cheddar slices 8.50
Olives 8.79
6 eggs 9.00

Total spent 68.87 (£5.84)

Some things were cheaper than in Vietnam, but overall a little more expensive so I would need to budget well, given that I was expecting to be here for a while. I congratulated myself on managing to have a fairly tame first full day in Dalyan and wondered how long that would last for.

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 20th September

Phong Nha & Dong Hoi – 20th September

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

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

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

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

Total spent: 926,359vnd (£29.68)

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

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

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

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