Dalyan – 30th October

Dalyan – 30th October

Kate, aka Miss Guided Tours or Miss Adventure, had organised another boat trip on Sunday 30th October. I had resigned myself to not going given that Edna, the dog, had not been well yesterday. When we got up and took both dogs out for a walk they were fine and Edna was back to normal, thankfully. I decided I would go on the boat trip, after all, but it did mean we would be leaving the pooches in the villa for about 7 hours and I was a bit concerned. Before the day out to sea on Kaan’s Tequila Boat, we didn’t have time to make breakfast so we grabbed a pain au chocolat from Migros and ate it at the front of the boat. On board today we had some of the same usual suspects but we were missing a couple who couldn’t make it and had added more for good measure. My parents, Captain Caveman and I were joined by Vanessa, Adam & Kath, Jackie & Chris, Trish & Steve, Michaela & Ali, Gay Gaz, Kelly and a lady we call 007. Mark and Kate got picked up from their jetty on our way to Devil’s Bay once again. I was so pleased that Ali was well enough to join us even though he and Michaela were not able to go mad with the drink. Trish was back to her usual self too and could enjoy a white wine (or 2) but Vanessa was now feeling a bit iffy and had to limit her wines to just 2 this time. Kate, who was doing so well being alcohol free but was finding it tricky to not drink. Typically, Kaan and Kate had agreed water would be free on this trip, so if she ordered wisely she still could take advantage of a free bar today! Of course, Gay Gaz, Kelly, Mark and Steve managed to make up for it on the booze. By 2pm Captain Caveman had cleared a beach of lots of litter and was towing it back to the boat using a paddle board as a raft.

Most people went in the sea and it was sunny still, about 26°C, but it did feel cool when I got out of the water. Kaan was so relaxed because this could well be the last boat trip of the season and he knows us all so well. He even joined us in a few drinks at the bar, leaving his two mates to do all the work.

The BBQ lunch was wonderful and with 18 of us on the boat it was cosy while we ate it. Kaan took us for another swim spot at hole island and we had more drinks, I think we may even have ran out of certain refreshments.

It was a lovely day even though I didn’t drink too much on account of looking after Jamie’s dogs and, when everyone suggested going for drinks after the boat trip, we decided to go straight home. I was sure that little Edna may need a walk by now and even half expected for one of the dogs to have had an accident but they had been as good as gold. I didn’t have any WiFi on the boat so I didn’t realise that we had missed Nanny Kay who had popped round to say hello, while we were out. I was sad to have missed her because she does have some of the best stories and always makes me laugh. After a nice walk the dogs were super ravenous and it was good to see Edna was back on her normal dog biscuits.
For dinner that night we had diet pizzas and were trying not to fall asleep on the sofa, while watching Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix, at only 9.30pm.

Photo credit – Michaela, Adam and Kaan

Dalyan – 22nd October

Dalyan – 22nd October

Kate had arranged what we thought might be the last boat trip of the season, on Saturday 22nd October. Kaan’s Tequila Boat was once again the chosen one for today and he had agreed a good price. The plan was to go out to sea and find a tranquil spot at Devil’s Bay.
Captain Caveman got up super early to go to the weekly market before the trip and ended up there before it was opened. Luckily he got himself a savory pancake for 25 lira (£1.20) while he waited for the stall holders to finish setting up. Once ready, he bought a variety of fruit, vegetables and olives for a total of 146 lira (£7), which would easily last us the week.
At 10am we were on the boat waiting for 1 person who hadn’t seen the message that we were leaving 30 minutes earlier than first planned.
Joining Kate, Mark, my parents, Captain Caveman and I on board were;
Matt & Vanessa, Adam & Kath, Trish & Steve, Linda, Shiela, Gay Gaz and his mate Kelly. At least 2 of those people were half cut when they got on board so it looked like we were in for a lively day. This was the first time, since Captain Caveman arrived, that we had seen Kaan and he had a present from Vietnam. Kaan was so pleased with his Easy Tiger T-Shirt that he put it on straight away and showed it off to everyone.

Steve was the first in the water then lots of paddle board action ensued. Captain Caveman, Dad and I stuck to old fashioned swimming in the sea which wasn’t too cold ‘once you were in’. Poor Trish had been under the weather so wasn’t her usual chatty self, joining Kate in the not drinking alcohol camp. Kaan’s fridge soon got emptied though and Kelly was the first to declare the bar was open. Captain Caveman wasn’t too far behind Gaz and Mark but Dad and I waited until midday at least.

Steve like to be the first in the water
Captain Caveman testing out if it is warm enough
Kaan getting the equipment ready

Even though Mom didn’t risk going in the water, on account of her possibly not being able to get back out again, we still all had a good time. The BBQ lunch was good, as always, with plenty of it and some of the party sorts were proper hammering the booze. Gay Gaz’s friend Kelly was a force to be reckoned with and couldn’t half knock back the beers and raki. She did a couple of impressive dives from the roof of the boat, on the first occasion her boobs were out, we were spared Gay Gaz’s testicle appearance this time, though! It was a really great day out and with lots of swimming, eating and drinking. Kate and Kaan felt sure we could maybe squeeze in a repeat performance before the end of the season and the feelers were put out for another Miss Guided Tour next week.

When we got back to town it was dark so, after dropping Mark and Kate off at their jetty, and saying bye to the sensible friends, the remainder of us popped to Rum bar for a cocktail – they do one of the best Pina Coladas in Dalyan.
My parents, Captain Caveman and I were a bit peckish by 8pm so we took ourselves off to Pizza 48 for our dinner. Dad had Hawaiian, Mom had tuna and onion, Captain Caveman had a mixed with extra onion rings and I had salami and mushroom. It was all very nice and the prices reasonable. The most expensive pizza was only 80 lira (£3.80), an Efes 55 lira (£2.62), Coke 15 lira (70p) and red wine 50 lira (£2.38) – we paid 515 lira (£24.52) for the 4 of us and we were all very full.

Photo credit – a couple from Adam Newton

Dalyan, Toparlar waterfall & Yuvarlakcay – 1st October

Dalyan, Toparlar waterfall & Yuvarlakcay – 1st October

To say Captain Caveman was feeling rough and looking peaky on Saturday 1st October was an under statement. When I showed him the bottle of whisky with only a quarter of the contents left he was surprised! He had to have a cold wet makeshift flannel on his head and lay on the sofa. Even when our Aussie friends, Amanda and Greg, came to say goodbye he didn’t get up, which was embarrassing. They understood because it has been a bit of a tradition of their’s to end up with a casualty on the day they have to go back to Australia from a holiday, but it is normally one of their own party! It didn’t help that the weather forecast for today in Dalyan was extremely hot and sunny. The temperature would reach 38°C so it was probably a good thing we were off out this afternoon.

Today we had booked a bus trip with Kate and Daisy to go to Yuvarlakcay. It is up in the mountains and has an icy cold river with some restaurants along it. The bus cost us around 200 lira each (£10) and it left Dalyan bus station at 1pm. Captain Caveman really was struggling as we got on the bus but he had a bottle of water with him. On the way we stopped off at Toparlar waterfall which we had a short walk to and then we stripped off to our swimmers for a dip in the cool pool at the bottom of the waterfall. The rocks were tricky and if you have any issues walking I wouldn’t recommend this bit. I needed help getting in and out as well as guidance on the rocks. I really struggled on one particular bit but Captain Caveman was there to give me a hand up without me hurting my knee too much. I was glad to be wearing my porter sandals from Vietnam to ensure I didn’t slip.


Back in the hot bus Captain Caveman started to feel more unwell. By the time we reached Yuvarlakcay he had to be the first off the bus, despite being sat on the back seat, so he could be sick. While the rest of us found a shady seat by the water in the restaurant, Captain Caveman sorted himself out. Daisy had also had a late night last night so she had a little sleep while Kate and I drank a cold Efes. Captain Caveman arrived, ordered a beer and agreed to share mezes, bread and chips for lunch with all of us. He then had a nap and Daisy fell asleep too, Kate and I were just glad of the cooler temperature. As we left, we did put a toe in the water but it was too cold for a swim and the swings were busy with children, which we couldn’t really turf out.

On the way back to Dalyan the journey seemed a bit quicker, Kate had arranged to meet Mark after pool and we said I’d see Angelique at Rehab. That changed a bit as Captain Caveman went home to bed and Kate had to feed the cats. I managed a drink at Tez bar with Mark, Kate, Roy and Gay Gaz, though, before going to Migros to pick up crisps, wraps and tomato puree. I went home earlier than everyone else to make Captain Caveman a diet pizza.

Photo credit – Daisy, Kate & Captain Caveman

Dalyan – 20th & 21st September

Dalyan – 20th & 21st September

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

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

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

Photo credit – Adam Newton, Princess of Ekincik

Dalyan – 19th September

Dalyan – 19th September

I usually try to avoid going to the bank on Monday mornings due to it being busy. Monday 19th September was seriously busy and there were no seats left unless anyone wanted to try moving the İş Bank cat. I was in there ages, while Captain Caveman got packed for our day out. It was Mark’s 58th birthday and although he and Kate could appreciate a lot of English people in Dalyan would want to watch the Queen’s funeral on TV, it was no way to celebrate a birthday. Captain Caveman and I also had no wish to watch a funeral on a big screen in a bar, like it was some sort of sporting event. Kate had took the sensible idea of organising a day at the beach from 2pm, that way anyone who wanted to come, could do so. It also meant that we didn’t have to go to a bar where the regurgitated funeral footage would probably be on, well in to the evening.

Amanda, Greg, Captain Caveman and I got the 1.30pm bus from Dalyan to Iztuzu Beach. John and Andrea got on just after us then Mark, Kate and Daisy got on a bit further along the way. A few more reprobates joined us at the beach and we had all taken some drinks. We had red wine and paper cups, we bought chicken sandwiches at the beach cafe for our lunch.
As a birthday gift for Mark we had got him a bottle of port, some cheese, a Vietnamese t-shirt and a cap. He seemed happy with that and put the Phuc Dat cap on straight away.
The sea was lovely and calm, warm enough to swim in too. There was quite a few of us as more people joined; Marion and her husband, Adam, Kath, Wolfie, Irena, Kevin, Janet, Little Corduroy, Gary, Debbie (Darling) and Roy.
Gary (aka Gorgeous Gay Gaz from Gateshead with the Glass eye) excelled himself by turning up with a bottle of vodka and a rogue testicle. I noticed that I could see more than I should have up his shorts and quietly asked Captain Caveman if he thought I should tell Gaz this. He said to leave it to him and then shouted out to Gay Gaz that I had pointed out that the boys were not in the barracks! Everyone laughed, Daisy woke up and got a good eyeful not fully knowing if she was looking at Alan Sugar or half a scrotum. Now 5G became 7G as we renamed Gary as Gorgeous Gay Gaz from Gateshead with the Glass eye and Gigantic Gonads!

Aside from that, it was a great day with lots of laughs. We didn’t leave the beach until the last bus back at 6pm. On the bus, Kate invited us all back to their’s for more birthday party shenanigans which, of course, we agreed to. There was naturally more birthday celebration drinking. Fruit cake and cheese was out for those who wanted to upset Mark by eating it! There was also a touch of sunburn for those people who hadn’t been wearing the high factor suncream, which I rather smugly had!
We got home, by taxi, at gone midnight then Captain Caveman insisted on a Mount Gay Rum for a nightcap.

Phong Nha – 23rd August

Phong Nha – 23rd August

My last day in Phong Nha had finally arrived; Tuesday 23rd August was my 64th day here. Tomorrow I would start my journey back to Dalyan, Turkey, where Captain Caveman would join me 1 week later. Captain Caveman went to Oxalis in the morning and he got a message from Tatas to say she wouldn’t be able to come to see me off because she was still hungover. For lunch I asked Captain Caveman to bring us both a roast pork banh mi from The Pork Shop and gave instructions to make sure no chillies or chilli sauce were on it.
Obviously when they arrived, they had chilli sauce on, despite his explanation in English and Vietnamese, so I was ill after eating it.
We had the last of the fruit salad and we weighed my luggage. I was just under my 25kg hold allowance and over on my hand luggage, which weighed 10kg but would take the risk. In the afternoon we went in the pool, it was a sunny last day and this would be my last time in our own private pool this year.
At 5pm, as planned, Stu and the boys came over to join us in the pool to say farewell. We had a few shandies and it looked like a storm was coming. We chatted about films and I got some recommendations of what I might want to watch on my journey. I had lots of time as I wouldn’t arrive in Dalyan until after 9pm on the 27th. Captain Caveman invited Stu, Max and Jack to stay for dinner but they decided to get back as they had a busy day tomorrow.
Captain Caveman cooked pasta for dinner and we toasted my leaving with some wine – I might come to regret this when the alarm goes off at 5.30am tomorrow!

Phong Nha – 13th August

Phong Nha – 13th August

After a fairly calm few days in Phong Nha, I was about ready for a bit of excitement on Saturday 13th August. The day started calmly but ended in what an onlooker may call wild debauchery!
By 9am I had finished my breakfast of toasted teacake loaf, orange juice and Yorkshire tea. I had taken 3 jars out of the freezer, as per Captain Caveman’s instructions before he went in to Son Doong, and I’d sent messages to friends about tomorrow’s party.
Caroline and Vee came to visit for lunch and we decided to have East Hill BBQ chicken. We had a beer while we waited for the delivery and then we went on to white wine with ice and soda with our lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool, having a good old laugh and drinking lots more wine (in plastic cups).

By 5.20pm we decided Caroline should borrow my more modest swimsuit and we should go for happy hour at the Farmstay. We were already pretty happy but Caroline wanted to meet Andrew and Trang there, so off we went in the jeep. We had a swim, several rum and cokes were had and we ordered pizzas. After a few more drinks we decided to go back to Elements as Captain Caveman was on his way back from his gala dinner. He’d got back late from his last tour so we hadn’t seen him this afternoon. We asked for a driver and the jeep to take us home. As we waited there was another guest waiting to go back to Elements so we shared the jeep ride back with him.

Captain Caveman was just going in to the house when Caroline, Vee and I arrived with our new friend, Benjamin. We had invited the young French man in for a gin and tonic and it was only around 8.30pm. The 4 of us had a couple of drinks and then decided to get in the pool, Benjamin popped back for his swimmers and made it clear he was not stopping long as he had a cave trip booked for tomorrow.
It was a great night which turned in to absolute drunkenness and shenanigans; Benjamin dropped his villa keys in the pool which lead to us telling him about the ‘keys in the fruit bowl’ meaning in England, there were competitions of who could tread water the highest out of the pool. We even put on Kate’s boat trip play list on Spotify, drank over a litre of gin and sang a lot – it was lucky that our only neighbour was in the pool with us! The ultimate competition was between a former submariner, Caroline, and a Caveman who finds it impossible to float – who could stay under water for the longest?
We don’t remember when Benjamin left and I’m sure that Captain Caveman and Caroline were still in the pool when the loudspeaker announcement started in the morning. Vee had managed a little snooze and I’d tried to go to bed at one point. By the time the pool party finished it was the next day and the sun seemed to be unsympathetically shining as Caroline had to call the owner of her hotel for a lift home.

Some photos by Caroline

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.

Phong Nha – 2nd August

Phong Nha – 2nd August

My intention was to ride Bluey up to the Farmstay at 7am on Tuesday 2nd August. I’d arranged to have breakfast with Andrea, Nick and Lottie before they left to go to Hue. The rains yesterday had cleared the air and it looked like it was about to be very hot today. Duyet was waiting for me in the jeep and I remembered (drunkenly) saying to him last night “tôi đi Farmstay bảy giờ” which means “I go to Farmstay at seven o’clock”.
I was the first there, closely followed by Andrea, and Nick’s promise of a 6am swim had been forgotten. For breakfast I ordered a Pho Bo (beef noodle soup), Andrea chose omelette which comes with bread and the others had a sausage related breakfast with a big hash brown. It had been great to catch up with them and they were looking forward to a sightseeing trip, by private car, to Hue this morning. I sent recommendations through as well as the reminder of the Nook Eatery where Andrea had eaten with Captain Caveman before. We said our goodbyes and I hoped to see Andrea in Ho Chi Minh on my way back to Turkey, later in the month. I had to wait 30 minutes for Duyet because he was busy so I hung around the Farmstay bar, trying to keep out of the hot sun at 8am. I noticed a glass container which should be used for drinks being used as a fish tank – it was a bit random. I chatted to Bich who was looking forward to joining Ben and their friends on a 5 day motorbike trip up in the north of Vietnam.

Back home, I did a few chores and when it was a little cooler I did a bit of shade-bathing on the lounger by the pool, where I saw lots of dragon flies. For lunch I had fruit and teacake loaf and then had a swim. I got a message from my mate, back in Southampton, who was going to be in the Muğla province of Turkey, the same province as where I would be, at the end of August. I was so excited and we decided we would plan to meet up, as it turned out that we were both arriving at Dalaman airport on the same day which was a great coincidence.

In the evening I had been invited to another party but this time it was a sad occasion; Duyet was leaving on Friday and was having a party in the garage with the staff tonight. He had invited me to join them at 7.30pm and I had assumed it would just be for some beers. I had an early dinner of chicken and veg stir-fry with steamed rice then had a shower and got ready for a few drinks. When I went outside there was an abundance of drinks and food, all the staff were there including Duyet’s replacement, Quoc. The party was great and we had a good old laugh using Google translate, and they said how much they loved having me there. I told Duyet we would miss him and that we were sad that he was leaving. His plan was to go to work in either Hanoi or Saigon but it had not been finalised yet – none of us wanted him to leave but I tried to be understanding. The party turned out to be a good one and I even taught one of the housekeeping staff’s kid to dance to ‘Billy Jean’, by Michael Jackson. I managed 3 beers but Hien managed at least 5 and we all had a joke that she could almost drink as much as Captain Caveman. It was a lovely evening and the Elements Collection team showed so much generosity and kindness.

Phong Nha – 1st August

Phong Nha – 1st August

Monday 1st August was Yorkshire Day and I hoped all my Yorkshire friends and family were having a nice day. My Yorkshire Day was definitely not ‘Yorkshire’ in any way, I didn’t even have my usual Yorkshire tea in the morning. I had fruit for breakfast; pineapple and Dragon fruit which are amongst my favourite fruits, with yellow kiwi fruit. Hien, the owner of Elements Collection had given us 3 yellow kiwi fruits which are a lot sweeter than the green ones and I really enjoyed them.
I heard from Anna and Katie, the Irish girls, who I had met on the Lynn Visa trip to the Lao Bao border last Wednesday. They had arrived in Phong Nha and had checked in to Tuan Garden House, we said we would meet up during their stay and I sent them a few recommendations for while they were in town.
It was extremely hot so I had a pool afternoon and chilled out a little bit. It was just after 3pm when the rain came so I had to get out and shut all the open doors. The rain was great and started to cool the air a lot, it did mean that the plan for Andrea to cycle down to Elements wouldn’t go ahead. As I was going in the spare room to get my clothes, one of the housekeeping staff were in there ‘borrowing’ the remaining 4 pillows. We made each other jump and I think she asked if it was ok to take the pillows. I shrugged and said ‘ok’ as I thought she needed them for some new arrivals. I’d seen a big group of Vietnamese girls arrive earlier. With Bich’s story before of the bedding woman in Dong Hoi and now the rain, they were obviously short on pillows. While Captain Caveman was away I was unlikely to need them and said I had enough in my room for sleeping. The big group’s arrival had also meant that there was a bit of a shortage of someone to take me to the Farmstay for happy hour and there was no jeep. After waiting 15 minutes, Duyet arrived and drove me, in someone’s fancy car, and I got there in time for 2 for 1 rum and cokes for me, gin and tonics for Andrea, Nick and Lottie.

Despite the rain showers, we got to see a bit of a sunset and I even remembered to take some photos this evening. Some mates of Ben and Bich’s were here and the men were all wearing their matching shirts as they talked about motorbike trips at the bar. Tonight was Andrea, Nick and Lottie’s last night so we gave the ball a right old kick, starting with an everlasting game of pool and finishing with great food and wine. I had the chicken and cashew nuts with steamed rice, Andrea ordered the Banh Xeo which is a rice flour pancake with seafood. Nick had Nem Lui which is pork on lemon grass skewers served with rice paper rolls, veggies and rice noodles, Lottie had the veggie curry with steamed rice. There was also some fresh spring rolls as a starter which were shared. All of the food came out hot and tasted delicious, we had a few more drinks but found the martinis were a bit out of kilter on the measures. They were still drinkable (just) but I offered to show Sau, the waitress, how to make a better martini later in the week.
We finished the night with beers and so many funny stories from Nick – they had all been great company. I called Duyet to take me home at just after 10pm, which is late for the Farmstay. I got in the jeep with a beer still in my hand and I finished it when I got home.

Phong Nha – 31st July

Phong Nha – 31st July

Of course we were awake extremely early on Sunday 31st July, Captain Caveman was going in to the cave for another 4 days. This time when he got out, he would have 5 days off, which was amazing! I didn’t have breakfast with Captain Caveman as I wasn’t too hungry and went back to sleep for an hour after he said bye.
I had a late breakfast of fruit and toasted teacake loaf and I spent most of the day by the pool, or swimming. I messaged Tony, from the Lake House, to see if we could arrange to go there for dinner and wine with him, Tham, Andrea and family. I was surprised at the response as he and the family were at the airport and were off back to Australia for a bit – we’d not even had chance to say goodbye. For lunch I had chicken with steamed rice, lettuce and gherkins which was healthy and tasty.
Andrea, Nick and Lottie had gone to explore Phong Nha cave and then walked to Victory Road Villas for a cooling swim in the pool. I got a car at 6pm to meet them and it cost 200,000vnd (£7.20)from Elements to The Villas, which is just over 10km away, where the 4 of us would dine this evening. Again, we were too busy chatting for me to remember to take any photos but we all ordered a pizza and shared. I ordered The Showstopper, Andrea the Momma D, Nick chose a Classic and Lottie the Vegetarian – a great mix. Cameron, the consultant chef, was there and I introduced him to my friends. He joined us for a chat and was very welcoming and friendly, he gave us a complimentary new salad to try which was delicious. We had a few margaritas each, then a couple of bottles of red wine between us. The pizzas went down well but I had a couple of slices left which I had to take home. Cameron came to see how we were doing and asked if we would try the new brownie. We didn’t want to let him down and I’m glad we said yes as it was delicious.

Phong Nha – 22nd July

Phong Nha – 22nd July

I remembered to take my measurements first thing on Friday 22nd July and they weren’t too bad;
Bust -2cm,
Waist +2cm,
Hips +1cm,
Right thigh +2cm,
Left thigh +0.5cm,
Right calf +1cm,
Left calf no change.
Both my leg measurements were the same and I now had to try to maintain that.
I had just 5 weeks left until my flight from Saigon to Istanbul and only 5 days until my plan to go in and out of Vietnam for the last time this year. For breakfast I had a buttered crumpet (this could be why I wasn’t getting any smaller) and finished off some Turkish lessons.
I had managed to book Captain Caveman and I seats on the bus from Phong Nha to Danang tomorrow at 7am. Captain Caveman would be pleased when I told him to pick the tickets up on his way home. There were far too many tourists making journeys and it had led to the trains selling out. I hate taking the sleeper buses but we had no choice, we had to be in Danang by Saturday night.
For lunch I had leftover BBQ chicken and rice followed by a pretty large White Russian by the pool – I needed to finish the milk off before our trip. Unfortunately this gave me a bad stomach, I’d already got a headache and was concerned I was getting sick.
When Captain Caveman returned from his cave tour he was again desperately trying to get a haircut and shave before the gala dinner tonight at Chay Lap. When I told him I wasn’t feeling too good he said to cancel the bus tickets, then he changed his mind twice.
It turned in to a bit of a fiasco and Captain Caveman was quite stressed but did end up getting a haircut, paying for my Laos transport then going straight to Chay Lap.
I had a dodgy stomach for the rest of the day and night so I had some crisps which I had been trying not to eat for weeks. I ate a small amount of plain rice and chicken for dinner but didn’t feel too great.
When Captain Caveman came home he still had to pack, repack his stuff for when we got back and sort out his laundry. He seemed a bit stressed and very tired but was pleased to be having a whole week off to come with me on my next visa run (well, kind of)! Captain Caveman had decided he would splash out and had booked a private car with driver to take us to Danang tomorrow and I hoped my stomach would be better.
At 9pm I had a video call with my parents so that I could wish them both luck for my Mom’s hip replacement operation tomorrow. She was in good spirits, this was the second one so she was prepared for what was to come. Dad had been briefed on his duties as chief carer and was also ready.

Phong Nha – 20th July

Phong Nha – 20th July

I had 2 pieces of leftover Showstopper pizza, from Monday evening, for breakfast on Wednesday 20th July. It is just as good as eating it at the time and I was glad to have another 2 pieces still in the fridge. My visa was still in processing but the equivalent of $25 had left my Turkish bank account. I was hopeful I would hear something soon and I’d confirmed my place on the visa run with Lynn Visa in 1 week’s time.
I had a bit of a swim and did some chores before eating the rest of the pizza for lunch with a can of Coke. By 3pm the rain was quite heavy and everything was getting a thorough soaking. I did quite a bit of Turkish as I was conscious that today was the Turkish class in Dalyan. Vanessa and I were still trying to keep up with them from afar and we had booked in a video call. At 5pm we had a good catch up and realised we were slightly behind with our homework but we definitely were doing ok, considering. We shared our efforts and it was nice to have a catch up too.
I had egg fried veggie rice for dinner and then did more Turkish lessons and homework. I submitted my homework to Sioned and would wait to see if I had got it right.

Phong Nha – 17th July

Phong Nha – 17th July

Sunday 17th July was a steady day as I made some preparations for Captain Caveman’s birthday tomorrow.
I had a bacon sandwich and shade-bathed round the pool for quite a while. I did a bit of Duolingo and even added Kate and Vanessa as friends on there. I thought it would be good to try to do more Turkish learning before I go back to Dalyan. Vanessa and I were trying our best to keep up so that we weren’t behind when we got back to restart our weekly Turkish lessons.
The weather in Phong Nha was cooler than the UK, apparently, so I couldn’t moan that it was 31°C at 6pm in the room with the AC on.
I had the last of the butter chicken and managed to work around a spider on the kitchen floor, on condition that it eat all the mosquitoes. I packed a bag for tomorrow as I was pleased to be able to spend 4 hours of Captain Caveman’s special birthday with him, after his briefing tomorrow night.

Phong Nha – 16th July

Phong Nha – 16th July

My measurements on Saturday 16th July were hardly surprising given that I’d had a 5 day holiday in Hanoi and eaten like a pig yesterday;
Bust +3cm,
Waist +3cm,
Hips +1cm,
Right thigh -3cm,
Left thigh -0.5cm,
Right calf no change
Left calf +1cm.
It had been 2 weeks since the last measuring and now my legs were back to having 1.5cm difference in thigh measurements and 1cm in calves – my bad leg still being the smallest after 27 months since the injury!
I had just 6 weeks left until my flight back to Istanbul so I thought I’d try to get a bit of a tan. I popped on my leopard print swimming costume and tried to take a few nice photos of me on my holidays. Unfortunately it was a bit tricky to get any decent ones and I gave up being in the sun after 12 sweaty minutes. I ate some fruit for my lunch and then applied for my next e-Visa. I still had two and a half weeks left on my current visa but, as I knew when my leaving date out of Vietnam would be, I may as well apply. I had to use my Turkish bank account and was a little nervous as it might not work in Vietnam. It sent me a message in Turkish and I understood it enough to be able to know I had to log in to my internet banking and put in a code. As it was a Saturday the money didn’t go out of my account, I had to wait until Monday to see if the payment would be accepted or rejected.
I had an early dinner of more butter chicken with steamed rice and then polished off the rest of the Chardonnay.
I got peckish before bed and had the crumpet I had got out of the freezer for tomorrow’s breakfast.