Rhodes – 15th September

Rhodes – 15th September

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

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

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

Photo credit – some taken by Captain Caveman

Rhodes – 14th September

Rhodes – 14th September

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

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

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

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

Rhodes – 13th September

Rhodes – 13th September

Tuesday 13th September was another wonderful day with a few surprises thrown in. We were up and about fairly early so we decided to check out and get an early bus to Lindos. We’d enjoyed staying at Summer Memories, although the WiFi wasn’t up to much, and would consider staying there again. The bus got very busy but by 10.30am we were in the super touristy town of Lindos. By complete coincidence an old school friend and her husband were going to be in Lindos today too so we arranged to meet up. Captain Caveman found us a nice little cafe called Eklekton and we went right up to the roof top terrace. I wasn’t feeling 100% so I just had an apple juice but Captain Caveman had something eggy on toast. Miraculously, Sam managed to find us easily and we caught up over a drink after almost 34 years. It was really lovely and of course there was lots to talk about – I bet Captain Caveman and Gerald, Sam’s husband, were in danger of having their ears start to bleed! Sam and Gerald didn’t have long to explore Lindos and we had to get to our next destination so we said our goodbyes and promised to meet up when I finally got back to Sheffield.

Captain Caveman and I had a short wander around the winding streets of Lindos with our backpacks on, and in midday sun, before stopping for a beverage. I had a grape smoothie (that’s not code for wine) and Captain Caveman had a Mythos beer at Pal’s.

We got a taxi from Lindos to Vlycha and ended up on the beach with our bags as the taxi driver didn’t know where our hotel was. Captain Caveman had very little cash on him so we didn’t get lunch at the beach bar, just a nice cold beer each. I’d spotted a turn off to our accommodation, Vlycha Beach studios and apartments, so we headed towards it. We checked in with the lady owner who was lovely, if not a little extraordinary. I had a dance with her on the balcony when she showed us our room and then she told Captain Caveman he had to walk to the top of a very steep hill for the nearest cash machine.

While Captain Caveman hiked in full sun, I relaxed at the hotel which was really lovely and one of my favourites of the trip so far.
When Captain Caveman returned we went for a wander to the small supermarket below then drank wine on the balcony until it got dark.
That evening, we walked a short distance to a new eatery called Gaea Beachfront restaurant and bar, part of the Lindos Aqua Terra resort, which looked fantastic. On the way we passed a working ATM machine which meant Captain Caveman needn’t have walked up the hill to the one further away. We ordered a bottle of the Cair Cabernet Sauvignon which was really good and decided to have a few dishes to share. The food was absolutely amazing and at a reasonable price, we even shared a dessert.

Brussels – 3rd September

Brussels – 3rd September

I woke up sweaty, thirsty and hungover on Saturday 3rd September in Brussels. The opening night of the Belgian Beer Festival, last night, had been great and Captain Caveman spending time with his brother was fantastic. We had to check out at 11am so we had a cheese and salami sandwich to sort us out. We left the Citadines Sainte Catherine aparthotel, which I’d definitely recommend, and headed through town towards the tram. We got the one to Uccle as we were invited to spend the rest of the weekend with Simon & Anna – we were both really looking forward to that a lot. We had not seen Captain Caveman’s two nephews for far too long and we had not met the third nephew at all, thanks to the pandemic. One of the things we really appreciate when we visit family and friends is to do ‘normal’ family things. I really enjoyed sitting at the big dining table to eat a delicious pasta lunch, I even had to give Captain Caveman a nudge to leave some for everyone else – he was also loving it. The youngest nephew is super cute and has a lot of similarities to Captain Caveman when it comes to meal times. In the afternoon we offered to go to the supermarket with Simon, while Anna looked after the kids. It was an experience, as Simon had chosen the self-scan method. We piled the trolley full and then the man in the queue in front of us had trouble letting us through because we had more than 10 items. It was good fun when Captain Caveman went to get our purchases of wine and some meat to contribute to tonight’s BBQ.

We managed a short walk through the nearby woods but it did start to rain a little by the time we were halfway round. The evening with the family was great and we got on the Prosecco surprisingly easily, considering last night’s shenanigans. I was impressed when one of the children managed to complete a house of cards but he was gutted when the little one wafted past, causing it to fall. By the time bed time came round I was tired and was looking forward to some sleep. I felt bad that we had kicked the youngest out of his room, he would sleep with Simon and Anna. The two eldest are so grown up now and when they argue they do it in French. They were both very polite and well behaved though, no arguments when it was time to go to bed.

Photo credit Captain Caveman

Dalyan – 30th August

Dalyan – 30th August

I was woken at 4am on Tuesday 30th August by someone calling me from Vietnam. I had forgotten to put my do not disturb on and it would be 8am there, I didn’t answer it but then I couldn’t get back to sleep. As the call to prayer went off I checked emails then had a sandwich which I still had left from the airport lounge.
In the afternoon I went to get my Turkish phone sorted because the SIM card was no longer working. It cost me 300 lira (£15) for a new one with 15GB of data, some texts and minutes. If you’re not a resident then it costs another £5. Next, I went to the pharmacy to get contraceptive pills and antihistamines. This cost about £7.25, much more expensive than when I last bought any. My last stop was to Migros to get toilet roll, noodles, spaghetti and milk at a cost of 86 lira (£4.30) – prices in Turkey were definitely increasing but seemed generally cheaper than the UK. When I got back to the apartment, I noticed that the outside lights were on, which was good but the light at the top of our stairs wasn’t working. The gate proved hard to get in and out of with shopping bags because of the overgrown garden and the broken wire netting on the gate. I had leftovers and a crisp sandwich for dinner then an early night. I decided to wait until Captain Caveman arrived so he could deal with what needed to happen about the pool and garden maintenance which definitely needed some attention. Captain Caveman was on a flight from Saigon at 9.25pm (Vietnamese time) and would be in Istanbul by the time I woke up in the morning.

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 7th August

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 7th August

I had a woolly head when the alarm went off at 7am on Sunday 7th August and I wasn’t fit for anything! Captain Caveman had to persuade me to get up and get ready as we were off to Dong Hoi on a shopping trip. We haven’t had the shopping trips with the Phong Nha Farmstay this year, which I used to like as they rarely left so early! The weekly trips had stopped running during the pandemic and never restarted, I guess because there were no other monthly renters so it didn’t warrant just taking us. While Captain Caveman had been working so much he didn’t need to go as often and I made do with whatever we had in the freezer.
Captain Caveman had booked an Oxalis car and driver and he was here early. Rain had been forecast so we hoped to get some shopping done, meet a friend and get back before any predicted stormy weather.
We got our usual driver, Dung, who’s always nice and friendly but professional. He also keeps the car clean and has the AC on, so we had a comfortable drive to Dong Hoi. By 9am our Bo Ne from Mr Bull’s was ordered and we were sipping the free tea, I was feeling somewhat delicate. I had my steak breakfast without eggs and it actually sorted me out a bit, until I started with a bad stomach.

We went to the Co-op Mart where we spent about 1.4 million vnd (£50) on groceries, including 4 bargain bottles of Merlot.
Our next stop was the WinMart where we spent 666,000vnd (£24). 
For those wondering how we had managed to spend £74 on shopping (and we weren’t finished yet), here’s what we had bought in the supermarkets;

Co-op Mart
1 white carrot 7,134
1 lemon soda 8,500
Tissues 13,000
Hand sanitizer 14,900
3 carrots 15,667
Pasta 23,000
2 red peppers 26,733
Passion fruit 28,106
2 packets of crisps 36,000
3 mangos 64,326
Mushrooms 64,900
6 soda waters 105,000
3 cartons orange juice 132,900
4 bottles of red wine 612,000

Total spent 1,378,866vnd (£50)

WinMart
3 salted lemon drinks 20,700
2 baguettes 30,000
1 bag of Lay’s crisps 31,000
2 teacake loaves 39,800
1 Tupperware box 43,000
2 Beef steaks 44,200
Spaghetti 49,000
200g Cheddar 74,600
Pasta sauce 78,700
1kg chicken breasts 119,900
200g butter 134,500

Total spent 666,100vnd (£24). Butter seemed to be a similar price to the UK and Turkey and airfryers were now all the rage. There had not been any white wine in either of the supermarkets so I suggested we try the Wine Plaza, at the back of the Vincom centre.

Our next stop at the Wine Plaza was a bit unusual; we walked in to a birthday celebration of the owner. They had us join in the photos in front of the flowers and then gave us both a glass of red to join in. They were lovely people and we ended up in there for much more than the 5 minutes we told the driver. We left having bought 3 bottles of nice white wine, one of which was 900,000vnd (£32.40), the other 2 much cheaper.
This was all before lunch time and we were meeting Thao at 11.30am for Banh khoai, crispy pancakes. Before that we went to QB Casa where Captain Caveman had a juice and I had a peach tea.

It was great to see Thao as we had not seen her for a while, we all ate the same thing and it was a little bit of a wait for the food because it’s so popular. After lunch we went around the corner for fresh coconut, sat opposite the market.
Back home we watched a bit of tree moving from outside of Elements and chilled out by the pool. We finished off a lovely day with crisps, fresh sandwiches and white wine. I got a message from my mate who arrives in Dalaman airport 3 hours after I do to say we could meet up and we pencilled in Ölüdeniz or Fethiye for the 29th.

Hanoi – 6th July

Hanoi – 6th July


I had a bit of a funny turn at about 2am on Wednesday 6th July. Kat turned the light out for us to go to sleep and I lay down. I got an overwhelming feeling of not being able to breathe properly and my chest was very hot to the touch. I scared her as she wondered if I was going to need medical attention and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I sat up I seemed to feel better but when I lay down I got worse, I turned my head toward the Aircon and we left the torch, on Kat’s phone, on until I calmed down a bit and eventually fell asleep. Thinking about it, it was the same thing I had when I got on the plane in Singapore so I wondered if it was just from lack of sleep and a bit of stress.
When I woke up, Kat had already been out to buy us some local food for breakfast. She had got me xoi ngo (or xoi bap), which is sticky corn rice with mung bean and fried onion. It’s very filling and tastes great. Kat had xoi xeo for herself, which was similar to mine but without the corn. We ate it with kombucha, which I didn’t particularly enjoy but it did cut through the stodge of the breakfast well.
After breakfast I got ready and we decided to go over to West Lake so we could grab a drink at a cafe. Our first stop was at Mystic cafe where they put up a parasol for us to sit by the lake. It was hazy but hot and I borrowed a sun hat from Kat. I had a fresh iced tea and the menu looked good so we ordered lunch there. I had a chicken taco and Kat had chicken salad, both were great value for money. Next we stopped off at Huy Long cafe on a nice corner spot, Kat had a coffee and I had a fresh lemon juice.
Kat had stuff to do in the afternoon so she kindly dropped me off at the accommodation which Captain Caveman had booked from tonight. We loosely said we would meet up later and off I went, to the Euphoria reception desk to check in.

I was excited to find we had been upgraded to a snazzy 2 bedroom apartment at Euphoria. I roughly knew the area too so, after unpacking and taking some photos, I had a walk to the shopping centre next to Fraser Suites. I was surprised to see that the Annam Gourmet shop sold Yorkshire tea bags but 80 were 450,000vnd (£16.20). I found that wine was cheaper and bought 2 bottles of screw top red and some croissants for breakfast tomorrow. I wasn’t sure if I would be eating out tonight but noticed the pizza place had 2 for 1 offers on Wednesdays which was good.

Back at Euphoria, I chilled out a bit and worked out how to operate the TV so that I could put my Youtube playlist on. Kat was coming over later but I got peckish and thirsty so I ordered pizza and started the wine. Kat arrived with treats of cheese, olives, Korean chocolate nibbles, some pastry things and peach cider. We had a bit of a picnic for our dinner, with wine and some great tunes. At first I was reluctant to try the Ricco Tiramisu gluten free sweets, but Kat insisted. I’m glad that she did because they are life changing and I need to have more if them in my life. We went to bed late and it was pretty luxurious to have a bedroom each tonight.

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 25th June

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha – 25th June

Captain Caveman had booked a car to take us on a shopping trip on Saturday 25th June. It wasn’t my idea of something good to do with a day off but Captain Caveman does enjoy shopping much more than I do. We were in the car and I was about to discuss my declined visa extension situation when Captain Caveman noticed a missed call from his boss. It’s not uncommon for this to happen on a day off early in the morning, so I wasn’t surprised. Captain Caveman was asked if he could be ready to go to do day 2 of a Hang Va tour, to cover for the Vietnamese tour guide who was on his way out. I thought we would have to turn the car around and go back but Captain Caveman pointed out that he couldn’t do it. This was the first time I’d ever witnessed Captain Caveman say no to one of his bosses asking him to do extra but, of course, I was pleased.
In Dong Hoi we got the driver to drop us off at Mr Bull’s for breakfast where we ordered Bo Ne, I had mine without eggs. It was delicious but I sensed Captain Caveman’s mind was still on the Hang Va issue. The operations manager, called him to say it had been sorted but they had sent in Tatas to cover, so now could Captain Caveman cover for Tatas on her pre-briefing duties. He agreed as they were both on the same Son Doong tour tomorrow. This meant he had to be at work an hour earlier this evening, at Son Doong Bungalows. I was definitely getting an idea of how busy Captain Caveman had been these last few months and I knew he was going to be very disappointed that I wasn’t able to get a visa extension without having to leave Vietnam.

Our first shop on the shopping trip was the Co-op Mart, the biggest of the supermarkets in Dong Hoi, and it was busy. We spent a lot of money, I had forgotten to bring the shopping list but I think we remembered most things between us. The next place was VinMart, which is now called WinMart, and has new products in. I was so excited that they had small rice cookers for less than £20 so we bought one to take back to Turkey. Next stop was for tampons, also tricky to find in Vietnam, which they sell in the Medicare shop but were 174,000vnd (£6.26) for 2 boxes. Our last stop was the wine shop where Captain Caveman came back to the car with a box containing 3 bottles of white wine and 2 bottles of Bombay Sapphire gin for a bargain total of £50.
We were meant to be spending some time in Dong Hoi and had planned to go to Tree Hugger for lunch and White Russian cocktails. Captain Caveman wasn’t in the mood now and suggested we just go straight back home.

It’s been a while since Ive done a big shop so here’s what we spent in the 2 supermarkets.
£1 = 27,768 Vietnamese Dong (VDH)

Co-op Mart supermarket:
1 can of ginger ale 9,500
Baby wipes 12,300
2 onions 15,774
Bamboo Cotton buds 20,500
3 carrots 21,886
1 packet of pasta 22,500
Washing up liquid 22,500
1 packet of Grape haribos 25,200
Sugar free Milk 27,200
Passion fruit 30,751
4 cans of tonic 31,200
2 red peppers 32,347
3 mangos 39,063
Frozen sweetcorn 43,600
Mushrooms 50,500
2 chicken breasts 50,580
1 Tupperware 53,000
1 Tupperware 59,000
1 pomelo 59,988
Frozen strawberries 63,800
Tin foil 69,900
1 bottle of olive oil 130,000
3 cartons of orange juice 132,900
2 bottles of red wine 306,000

Total spent 1,355,189vnd (£48.79)

WinMart supermarket:
2 small cans of coke 15,800
2 baguettes 19,000
3 salted lemon drinks 20,700
1 teacake loaf 22,900
Pineapple 29,80
1 plastic bottle 33,500
Pork mince 54,264
Pork mince 56,662
Frosties cereal 54,700
6 Strongbow ciders 108,600
1 rice cooker 544,000

Total spent 959,926vnd (£34.56)

I was surprised at how cheap the bottles of Strongbow were as in Dalyan it was getting difficult to get even Turkish cider for less than £3 per bottle.

On the way back to Elements we came up with a Plan B and C for me and we decided I would apply for another e-Visa. I already had a flight booked from DaNang to Singapore, used as proof of leaving Vietnam after 1 month, so it made sense to take that. If another 30 day e-Visa was granted I would come back to Vietnam the next day and carry on as we were. If I didn’t get another visa then I would still come back in on the free 15 day visa exemption, get my stuff and go back to Turkey, or England perhaps.
While I applied for my e-Visa, Captain Caveman unpacked the shopping and put it away. I got confirmation of my visa application, paid $25, and was told I would have notification by Wednesday. In the afternoon we didn’t really have much leisure time as we were busy with ‘Operation get me back in to Vietnam’ and Captain Caveman had to unpack, pack and prepare for work. I was lucky that Captain Caveman is so organised and calm in a crisis because I had been ready to have a mini meltdown.
For dinner I had a bit of a concoction; yesterday I’d made tortilla but the frying pan was a bit iffy and it had stuck so it was more of a ‘deconstructed Spanish omelette’, I’d only made it to use up the potatoes, onions and eggs and had ended up with 2 in the fridge. I fried some of it up like a posh hash brown with some bacon and pickled white cabbage. It definitely wouldn’t win any awards for how it looked but it tasted great. For afters, I had fresh pineapple and passion fruit which was so good. I also noticed that the WinMart had charged us for 2 lots of pineapple but we only had one.
When Captain Caveman returned from his briefing, having had to deal with a late joiner and more issues than he’s used to because that would’ve been Tatas’ job, he brought booze! His last group were disappointed that he was unable to do the gala dinner with them and had saved him some of their bottle of whisky – he said they were a really nice bunch of people. He kindly shared it with me and we listened to Kate’s Ultimate Boat Trip Playlist which she had shared on Facebook. There were some brilliant songs on there and it was about 24 hours long, I wondered if we could do a boat trip to celebrate when we returned to Dalyan and do the entire playlist.

Dalyan – 23rd May

Dalyan – 23rd May

The temperatures in Dalyan were heating up and, because all sides of the apartment were now blocked by buildings, there was very little draft through when I opened all windows and doors. On Monday 23rd May I was determined to take it easy as I was hoping to be refreshed and lose a bit of weight before going back to Vietnam. Captain Caveman had been working so much I was sure he would have lost weight and I didn’t want to look too fat at the side of him! I went shopping for a few essentials and made my sausage casserole in the slow cooker. I ate simit with cheese spread and plum jam for lunch and was a bit sad that I probably wouldn’t get to finish the jams I had left in the fridge – maybe I could give them to Dad as he loves a good jam. There was good news too, my Vietnamese visa had been approved and I could enter Vietnam at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the 5th June. It was valid until the 5th July so Captain Caveman booked me a flight from Danang to Singapore on the 4th July, for if I needed it. My original plan had been to accompany Des to Istanbul when his 30 days in Turkey was up, but that hadn’t worked out. Instead I got on with organising a leaving drinks for him, later this week.
Before 5pm I had my Yorkshire pudding tin in the oven and decided to open the bottle of mulberry wine I had. It was a bit sweet for me but I managed a glass of it with my sausage casserole and yorkshires. After dinner, I finally got the TV fixed, which was good news. I was considering taking the Firestick to Vietnam so we could still watch the Grand Prix but I thought better of it.
I had a bit of Kate’s fruit cake with butter before bed and I washed it down with a gin and pink grapefruit! It was nice to spend the day at home for a change.

Dalyan – 9th & 10th May

Dalyan – 9th & 10th May

I packed my suitcase on Monday 9th May, in readiness to move in to Mark and Kate’s place for 9 days of house and cat sitting.
I had leftover chinese for breakfast and pasta for lunch followed by the apple pie from yesterday, which was more of a tart and looked like something bought from the bakery.
I got a taxi with Fikri to go over an hour before Mark, Kate, Daisy and Phoebe were due to be leaving to go to Dalaman airport. When I arrived, around 6.30pm, no one was about except for Kate, who was on the phone. Daisy and Phoebe were both in bed, Mark had gone out for a drink. We learned that the flights were delayed just as Mark arrived to get ready, so the girls went back to bed and Mark went down the jetty with a beer. I chatted to Kate, had a glass of red wine and discovered that salt and vinegar crisps are available here in Dalyan. I had no idea and had already asked a friend to bring me some over!!! Eventually it was time to go to the airport and we all said goodbye. I ate a whole bag of the salt and vinegar crisps and then watched some Netflix in bed. Tomorrow I wanted to have an easy day where I didn’t have to do anything except for make sure the cats were ok.

I was up early on Tuesday 10th May to feed the 5 cats, Casha, Kylie, JC, Bubble and Squeak. The older cat, Casha, is Kate’s favourite and likes to be fed separately and has snuggles after breakfast. This time Bubble was on a diet so she had to also be fed separately. I watered the plants, there was a hose pipe to make things a bit easier and then all the younger cats went off to play out, while Casha followed me back to bed.
Because of doing something exciting with my parents tomorrow I had asked to join another Turkish class and Sioned had kindly allowed me to join a group today. The venue had been moved to Casablanca hotel as our usual place, Lukka bar, was getting rather busy with tourists. I arrived to meet my temporary class mates and we did a lesson on telling the time. I noted that the Casablanca hotel had a nice menu and that next week I would try out the food, and maybe even use the pool.
My next stop was to the supermarket and then back to Fire Opal for a bite to eat; a croissant and a cheese roll from the bakery section in Migros. At 6.30pm I went to Pilates which had started to help with my back and legs and I was enjoying it, even though it was difficult.
I had a cycle back over to Mark and Kate’s on the electric bicycle and chilled out. After feeding the cats and watering the plants, I decided to make some dinner. Kate had asked me to use up some meatballs in the fridge so I had some of them with beans on toast and a glass of wine. I had a relatively early night because tomorrow we had some excitement arranged.

Dalyan – 27th March

Dalyan – 27th March


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.

Dalyan – 22nd March

Dalyan – 22nd March

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:

Fresh bread 3.00
1 Twix 4.50
1 chocolate croissant 7.50
2 croissants 12.80
2 crisps 9.30
Bleach 13.40
Fairy liquid 14.90
Natural yoghurt 20.75
1 bottle of red wine 56.90

Total spent 143.05 lira (£7.34)

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.

Dalyan – 20th & 21st March

Dalyan – 20th & 21st March

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:

Spinach 9.95
Fabric Softener 18.25
Washing powder 22.75
Beef mince 41.16
Diced beef 44.00

Total spent 136.11 lira (£7)

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.

Dalyan – 14th & 15th March

Dalyan – 14th & 15th March

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

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

Dalyan – 7th March

Dalyan – 7th March

Rain stopped the work on my parents’ apartment on Monday 7th March and the pool at Captain Caveman’s Turkish apartment overflowed. I struggled to guess my wordle games this morning but eventually managed it. I tried a new one called Nerdle, which Kate had recommended to me, then I suggested it to Captain Caveman. He was now on his way back to Phong Nha, having been to visit Raj at Curry King in Tam Coc.

After being on my laptop until lunch time, I popped to Migros supermarket for some shopping, here’s what was in my basket:


Bread 3.00
1 simit 3.27
Pasta 3.64
Chocolate 7.12
Turkey slices 9.45
2 Bounties 9.74
Toastie loaf 10.95
6 eggs 13.98
Salami 14.72
Crisps 16.31
Chicken 46.30

Total spent 138.38 lira (£7.45)

Back home I had a simit with cheese spread and crisps for lunch, then strawberries with yoghurt and honey for afters.

As I had leftover Sunday dinner, I ate that and really enjoyed it for my evening meal, with a bit of broccoli from the freezer. Before I went out that night, I called to check my parents’ place was locked and I noticed that the gardener had been round. This was unusual as the weather had been awful and they don’t usual start cutting the grass until April. I took some photos so I could let Ma & Pa know about it and went to join Penny, Phil, John, Mark and Kate for more Monday Mayhem.

The specialist section of the Wonky’s quiz this week was James Bond, of which I knew very little about. Lucky for Penny and I, Kate had taken control of the whole thing. While Phil and John got bossed about, I just drank my wine and let them get on with it, until it got to the music round. By the end of the night, though, some of our team was a little inebriated and I had to resort to some cheering up tactics. I had to pull out the only thing I knew couldn’t fail to take one’s mind away from one’s problems! My secret skill is I can flip a considerable amount of beer mats with one hand. Mark didn’t believe I could do it, so I told him to video it! It had been a while, but my Dad had taught me well and, after steadily building them up one or two at a time, and numerous failed attempts, I managed it. By this time Mark had got bored of filming and, if I remember correctly, Kate was having a Bailey’s. As soon as filming stopped, the pressure was off and I managed to flip the 20 beer mats – Dad would have been proud!
Mark and Kate left by taxi, instead of cycling, and Penny kindly gave me a lift home. I had arranged to meet Kate at 2pm tomorrow as we were off to try something new.

1st attempt of the beer mat trick – video by Mark
4th attempt at the beer mat trick, 12 beer mats – video by Mark
7th attempt at the beer mat trick, 20 beer mats – video by Mark