Dalyan to Singapore – 4th June

Dalyan to Singapore – 4th June

I was a bit sloshed and very tired as Fikri drove me from Dalyan to Dalaman airport, in the early hours of Saturday 4th June. We were there before 2.30am and it had cost me 325 lira (£16.25) for the one way trip. I was able to check in straight away for my domestic flight at 3.30am to Istanbul, there was no queue. I didn’t bother with the airport lounge at Dalaman as there was no point, but I intended to go to the one in Istanbul, using my freshly acquired Priority Pass. The flight was on time, we got water and a cheese sandwich on the flight and when we landed I was so tired that I hoped the lounge had comfy reclining seats.
I got the free ‘one hour only’ WiFi code in the airport, sat down to check messages and let Captain Caveman know I had arrived in Istanbul, it was 9am over there but only 5am here. I couldn’t check in for my flight until 10am so I waited, in various uncomfortable metal seats, until it was time to get in the queue. The check-in finally opened late, at 10.45am, and the woman dealing with me had an issue. My visa specified that I will land at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City but my ticket was to Saigon. She had no idea they were the same place so, even when I told her, she still had to get her manager. We were wasting valuable lounge time here so I chatted to her a little in Turkish, I told her I was learning the language and that I’d been on holiday in Dalyan. She loves Dalyan so she became more friendly while we waited for the manager. Eventually I was sorted, nothing else was checked and my luggage would be checked straight through to Saigon.
I was boarding at 12.40pm so I was disappointed that I now had less than 2 hours in the lounge. I had a couple of draught Efes before getting a couple of bowls of lentil soup, bread rolls, cheeses, olives, salads etc. The breakfast food was still out but they started to put out the lunch so I grabbed a couple of sandwiches then went back to the bar for more beer. My next flight to Singapore was the longest part of my journey, we set off on time at 1.25pm (Turkish time) and would be landing in about 11 hours time. I hoped I might get some sleep on the way but it was a full plane and there was not much chance of that. We got a nice meal of beef with veg and potatoes but I left the dessert which was a chocolate Cornetto – Singapore Airlines food is pretty good though. I managed 3 glasses of red wine, seeing as it was free but then there was a bit of turbulence and we all had to sit down for a few hours. The woman next to me was from Indonesia and spoke no English so that was a bonus, her daughter at the other side of her was nice and polite. She told me of a secret waterfall near Dait, where she lives in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, and invited me to go there. Maybe Captain Caveman and I would visit it one day, as he has been to, and has friends in, East Kalimantan.

Dalyan – Top 10 things I will miss the most

Dalyan – Top 10 things I will miss the most

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dalyan – 3rd June

Dalyan – 3rd June

I think the words ‘hanging out of my own arse’ have never been truer than on Friday 3rd June, when I woke up to messages from Captain Caveman. He was suddenly excited to be seeing me and had sent me a blurred photo of a flight he had booked for when my visa expired, in case I needed to show it at check-in. I stayed in bed to transfer money to him for the electricity and water over the next few months. I’d had some really lovely messages from friends who’d been unable to come out last night, Sue managed to bring a tear to my eye with her kind words. Mark and Kate had invited me, Matt and my parents over to their place for a final farewell in the afternoon. I had a bit of a laugh at Matt, who may also have been hungover, when he posted on a group chat to say he would be going over to Mark and Kate’s for bacon sandwiches at 1pm. Mark had also replied on the group chat to ask me or Matt to bring bread and that it might be sausages as they were having trouble locating the bacon.
My parents had the workmen in and so they couldn’t go, which hindered my plans slightly as I was meant to be cycling to Penny and Phil’s. The idea was I would ride Bluey2 to their’s, slightly before the others got the taxi to Mark & Kate’s. I could then drop Penny’s bike off and get in the taxi for the rest of the way. Instead, Matt would cycle over about 1pm, my Dad would wait in with the workmen and my Mom would come and help me pack. I would then cycle to Mark and Kate’s but drop the bike off on the way back before going out for my final meal.
As my flight had been changed it turned out I could have gone to a Jubilee party after all. I checked the Jubilee group on Facebook so I could see what time to perhaps pop in but I’d been removed already. I’m not really in to the Royal family any way but maybe they’d found out how bad we had been on questions about the Queen at the Retro bar quiz and I had got an automatic ban – it might be better to leave it to the more patriotic.
When Ma arrived her facial expressions were a treat as she couldn’t believe how far off being ready I was!

Luckily for her, I’m a list maker and I had a note of all the jobs still to do (before 1pm ideally):
1. Print out my Vietnamese visa (I don’t have a printer but Kate was going to do it)
2. Pack away all my belongings in to the various lockable cupboards
3. Store all the non-perishable kitchen items in the lockable cupboard
4. Sort out 2 loads of washing
5. Empty the kitchen cupboards of spare food
6. Empty the fridge and decide who to give what to
7. Empty the freezer and give everything I could to Mom
8. Bin anything that wasn’t going to last or be donated
9. Empty the bins
10. Do the washing up
11. Pack my suitcase
12. Pack my hand luggage
13. Charge my laptop and phone
14. Defrost the fridge freezer

My Mom suggested I should let Mark, Kate and Matt know I’d be late and that it would be better for Matt to get the bread. I messaged (not in the group) to say I would leave mine at 2pm and then Mom and I got on with it.
It was the hottest day of the year so far and it didn’t help that yesterday one of the Aircon remotes had stopped working. We had done a couple of hours without AC but we were both a drippy mess by noon. Luckily, I didn’t need any lunch on account of me only just remembering that I had eaten cheese on toast and the half portion of beef wrap from Hotel Dalyance at 3.45am this morning – more luck than judgement, really.
Ma was instrumental in helping with the pots, sorting out the piles of clothes, packing and sorting the fresh and frozen produce out with me. She also managed to fill a whole bin liner of stuff to throw away.
My Mom left looking frazzled and a bit bewildered as to why I hadn’t done all this sooner. She had a bag of store cupboard stuff, some frozen stuff and some very nice home cooked meals to see her through the week. I also ended up with a large bag of stuff for Kate, as I knew she wouldn’t have me throw stuff away, including a jar of pickled red cabbage. All I needed to do now was hang the washing out and cycle over to Mark and Kate’s for another last farewell.

I arrived at Mark and Kate’s house at just after 2pm, a hot and sweaty mess. I had the bag of stuff, including a meat pie, brown and BBQ sauce, Lurpak butter, the curry paste which Kate had made me, but I’d not used it yet, and a few other bits and bobs. Mark sorted me out with a shandy while I squidged items in to the fridge and freezer. Matt was already sipping a shandy and had brought plenty of bread for the hot dogs. We had a couple more shandies, then Mark got cracking with the sausages. He even treated us to fried onions with them and we used up some of the BBQ sauce I brought. Kate offered us all fruitcake with butter and Red Leicester cheese on but I didn’t want to upset Mark, I declined but Mark and Matt enjoyed some. I had even packed some of Kate’s fruitcake, Red Leicester and Stilton cheeses to take with me to Vietnam. I decided to change in to my swimmers so that I could get in the pool, I noticed my pink towel on the terrace railing, which was odd. I hadn’t remembered putting it in their bag last night so that I didn’t have to carry it round. Then it was time for my farewell treat; Prosecco! It was the real stuff too and it was bloody lovely, in fact we ended up having 3 bottles between 3 of us, Matt just had the 1 glass. We took some photos and we almost forgot to print off the visa, as Kate was in charge but getting a bit merry. I realised I’d still not been in the pool but it was almost time to leave. I still had to drop Bluey2 off at Penny and Phil’s, get home and get ready for dinner with my parents. In my head I’d mistakenly anticipated having time for a nap at some point today but that wasn’t going to happen. Kate and Mark kindly offered to sort out the returning of Penny’s bike and suggested I get a taxi back to mine so that I wouldn’t be too late. Matt left earlier than me, I gave him a big hug and then had 1 more glass of Prosecco. When it came to saying goodbyes I was sad, I said I’d call them from time to time, Mark and Kate said they’d keep in touch too. I got to say bye to the cats who were already glad I was going because they had ‘my’ bed to themselves. Fikri dropped me off at my apartment and we confirmed my airport pick up would be Fikri personally later, at 01.45am to be precise. I’d only just finished packing when it was time to go out.

We were booked in at our favourite restaurant in Dalyan for my last meal here. My parents and I arrived at 7.30pm and had a lovely table on the mosque square side of the restaurant. I’d already decided I would have steak and I think it was a given that we would have a bottle of wine. We love Bistro Blue because of the great food, excellent service, but also because we like the owners and staff, plus it has a lovely ambience which makes you feel relaxed.
My Dad had one of his favourite dishes, the liver and onions with bacon, served with mashed potatoes. Mom decided she would have steak with onions and chips while I ordered my favourite, the pepper steak. The wine flowed, the food was excellent and I even got some good photos for our last night together. Our evening at Bistro Blue would not have been complete without seeing Selahı get out his huge grinder and pepper Annie’s plate, which made my parents laugh more than it should have. It was a little strange that we had no idea when we would see each other again or even which country it would be in. I’m lucky that I have residency in Turkey until October 2023 but my parents and Captain Caveman are only permitted to stay for 90 days in an 180 day rolling period, which is somewhat restrictive. The residency rules in Turkey have since changed and only 6 months as a maximum is allowed now.
After saying bye to Annie and Selahı we had a wander home and, as you can probably imagine, Ma was up for a nightcap. My taxi wasn’t coming until after midnight so we went to Tez bar where I enjoyed another glass of red wine, my parents were on the spirits!
Roy, Melanie and Gareth happened to turn up and so I got to say bye to them before I went, still disappointed I hadn’t been able to say bye to Debbie (Darling) or Sue who’d have probably had me crying. On my short walk round the corner I was able to quickly say bye to Jamie too, as he was at Lukka bar.
I tried to be brave when I said bye to my parents but I was quite tearful after they had gone. As Fikri arrived to pick me and my cases up, I don’t think it had quite sunk in that I was actually going back to Vietnam and Captain Caveman!

Dalyan – 2nd June

Dalyan – 2nd June

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

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

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

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

Photo credit – Annie Miller

Dalyan – 1st June

Dalyan – 1st June

Wednesday 1st June was a very busy day and also another time to say my goodbyes to more friends.
I had my Turkish class at Casablanca Hotel with our usual group, Vanessa was still in England. After the class I chatted with a couple of the ladies while Kate had her Turkish class. Kath arrived and joined us, I had a swim with my friend, also a fellow student in the same class, and then the 3 of us joined Kate and our teacher for a leaving beer/wine/lunch. I had a chicken wrap with homemade chips which is great value and very tasty. It was a lovely afternoon and my foot was getting better so that I could take the plaster off now.

In the afternoon Kate and I cycled to meet the pool gang at Rehab bar. On the way we called at Waterfall bar to say bye to Dick, I returned his bag and he gave me some Stilton which had been forgotten about. When we arrived at Rehab bar a fair percentage of the chaps were very drunk. The Long Island Iced Teas had been doing the rounds, Kate and I were greeted by a spare one each, which we didn’t particularly want, as we had already ordered a pint of draught lager from Tayfur. Adam went home with a ‘medal’ for being a champion pool player and John tried to leave by electric bicycle. Kate followed him home, concerned he may be too drunk and he was pretty wobbly.
When Kate returned she helped me sort out the purchasing of my Priority Pass for airport lounges and we had to force the cocktails down to save anyone else drinking them!

It was quiz night again at Retro bar but Kate and Mark had decided to have a night in. I still joined my parents there, this time I’d managed to be better dressed and not drunk. Not having Kate on our team turned out to be unfortunate as there was a whole round about the Queen of England which we didn’t get any points for. We had a good night, I got to say bye to Nazim, Nusret and the Retro and Smyrna ‘family’ before I left, and we got Gonca a small birthday present from Maizie Moo. I got in about midnight and made myself cheese on toast with some of the Red Leicester cheese from Dick.

Dalyan – 30th & 31st May

Dalyan – 30th & 31st May

I was surprised to find a snake at the bottom of the steps on Monday 30th May, it was dead and possibly a black whip snake.
I had a chicken and red pepper sandwich for breakfast and then my Mom called round for us to go to sort out her internet at Captain Net. It was the first of my leaving events in the afternoon with Ann. We met at 3.30pm at Okyanus, I just had a salad and a beer, Ann had a chicken wrap and a cider and we had a good catch up.
After lunch we said our goodbyes and I hobbled back home, where I emptied all the stuff out of the cupboards in an attempt to start some packing.
For dinner I had sausage casserole with Yorkshire puddings and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had a bit of a stressful morning on Tuesday 31st May; I got an email to say my flight from Dalaman to Istanbul had been changed to 5 hours earlier, meaning I would fly at 3.30am. I accepted it, not realising it was for an earlier date so I had to spend ages trying to contact the airline to change the flight. In the end, I managed to get the right date but it still meant I had a lay-over of 8 hours in Istanbul, but that was better than the 32 hours I nearly ended up with.
News in Vietnam didn’t fill me with confidence as rain was causing flooding and it may be that when I landed I would be knee deep in water.
After sorting all my clothes which were needing to be packed away, I went to meet my parents for dinner. I had to cycle as it was more comfortable than walking and we had a drink at Bistro Blue first. We wanted to eat there but it was too full and we hadn’t booked a table. Instead we had a drink there and we booked a table for my last night in Dalyan. We were meant to be going to Gonca’s birthday party but Yaşar messaged to say it was cancelled.
For dinner we went to Kebapçı Yusuf and the food was really good as always. I was quite tipsy on account of not having eaten much during the day so when I cycled home I went the main street route, where it is better lit, while my parents walked home the direct route.

Dalyan – 29th May

Dalyan – 29th May

My parents and I had a very important appointment at 10.30am on Sunday 29th May. Nusret and Gonca had invited us to Retro bar and Smyrna hotel to have breakfast with them and Yaşar. It was a hot day and I noticed that Phong Nha, where I would be in a couple of weeks, was hotter by about 5°C. I’d already cycled to the bakery to buy some baklava to take with us as a small gift. We sat outside under a parasol as Yaşar and Gonca brought so much delicious food to the table. It was really kind of them to invite us, they were very generous with the food and their time. I found myself lacking in Turkish vocabulary somewhat and we had to rely on Yaşar to translate my basic Turkish or Google translate.
The food was phenomenal and plentiful, my parents loved it too and we were made to feel like part of their family. I would miss them when I had to leave and we promised to keep in touch. We also got invited to another event for Gonca’s birthday in a few days.

Back home I had a whole chicken in the slow cooker which smelled lovely and was meant to be for dinner. I’d invited my parents over, they didn’t fancy chicken but would meet me later for a drink. We went to Tez bar for a couple and bumped in to Penny and Phil, which was nice as I’d not been out drinking with them for a while. I invited them to share my chicken dinner too but they had other ideas. I had another drink and then Penny, Phil and I got a taxi to their place where Penny and I got in the pool to cool down.
Penny and Phil were the perfect hosts, we had a couple of gins and a curry. I had a rather tasty chicken korma and they had a delicious jalfrezi. It was so good but they wouldn’t tell me where they got it from as it was top secret. I had a great night and I was going to miss Penny and Phil, they are a really good laugh and have been really kind friends to me. In a few days Bluey2 would be making her way back to their place and I would have to say bye to her too.

Dalyan – 28th May

Dalyan – 28th May

I didn’t have breakfast until 11.15am on Saturday 28th May, mainly because I was super tired from all the excitement of the past few days. I was also struggling to put weight on my big toe and had to cancel a proposed trip to the market with my parents. They did bring me some strawberries and cherries as a treat, which I was grateful for.
I had less than a week left in Dalyan so plans for a bit of a leaving celebration were underway. Kate had very kindly agreed to organise my send off and had already started to message everyone for a party on Thursday.
About 5pm I decided to venture out on Bluey2 as I needed to go to the ATM. I found it easy to cycle but not so easy to walk so I went on to Rehab bar to meet up with the pool gang. By the time I got there, not many people were left so I got to join in the game of Killer with Matt, Adam, Wolfie and Mark and I wasn’t the worst player of the day! Tayfur had installed a draught pump so that Efes was now available on tap and I had to try a couple to make sure it was up to scratch – it was.
After Rehab, I went home for a homemade dinner of bacon pasta, another of my items from Dick which I was looking forward to having. I treated myself to cheese (also from my recent English delivery) with Quinoa crackers later too, before an early night. Tomorrow was going to turn out to be another food-lovers paradise!

Dalyan – 27th May

Dalyan – 27th May

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

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

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

Dalyan – 26th May

Dalyan – 26th May

I woke up about 9am on Thursday 26th May after not having had many hours sleep. I checked it was a Thursday and thought I could go back to sleep and try to get rid of my hang over. Oh dear, I had booked in several beauty treatments today, plus I had arranged Des’s leaving drinks for tonight, and was deeply regretting it already. I texted Mom, she and Dad weren’t feeling too fresh either, and was glad she hadn’t booked in multiple things today. I vaguely remembered walking home from Sofra bar by myself, which I never do. I also had a weird feeling that I had lost something important but couldn’t quite put my finger on it as I dragged myself in to the shower. My first appointment was for waxing at 11am; Mom was just having her eyebrows done but I could not have picked a more inappropriate set of treatments to endure when I felt this hung over. I had full legs, bikini and eyebrows waxed and how I wasn’t sick when she did my undercarriage from behind, I will never know – I could have cried. By the time I was done, my Mom had already gone home for lunch with Dad but I couldn’t stomach any food.
Our next appointment was at 2.30pm at Kuaför Emrah, the hairdresser’s. When I arrived my Mom was already there and was mid-cut. In my opinion Emrah Kilis is one of the best hairdresser’s I’ve ever known so when he made a suggestion about what colour and style to have I just agreed because he knows what I like. Because of the hangover it felt like the longest hair cut and dye ever and I had to have sugar in my cup of tea. My Mom was finished in about 20 minutes, her hair looked great and she was pleased with it. Unfortunately though, her and Dad would no longer be coming out to Des’s leaving drinks tonight as they were feeling too under the weather. I was hoping for a good turn out so that I didn’t have to stay out too late but more people had started to send messages to wish Des well but to decline the invite to Rum bar this evening. Even Mark and Kate said they weren’t coming as they had overdone it yesterday. Debbie (Darling) was also having one of her rest days so couldn’t make it. As I was getting ready to leave the hairdresser’s, looking like a new woman, Des messaged to say his last class was cancelled so he could be out even earlier, 6pm instead of 8pm – oh no!
I replied to say I definitely couldn’t make it for 6pm as I needed to eat. I went home and ate meat and potato pie, cauliflower greens and gravy with lashings of Henderson’s relish. I then lay down for half an hour trying to find the strength and motivation to go out to make sure Des got a good send off.

Des’s leaving drinks were booked in to start at 8pm from the Rum Bar. I’d invited quite a few people and there were lots of acceptances to the event invitation on Facebook. After forcing down the pie and greens I knew I still looked like death so there was only one thing for it! I decided to get dressed up and wear a dress with a good fitting bra underneath so no one would notice how tired my eyes were. My parents and Kate had sent an apology message to tell me to wish Des well but they wouldn’t make the farewell drinks on account of them overdoing it yesterday and having to stay in. On my way to Rum Bar I stopped off at Tez bar where at least half of the party people were having a drink, some looked like they had been there a while. I was also surprised to see Mark, who was meant to be having a night in. As I approached the table I got quite a few gawps at my outfit and, of course, Andy was the first to comment on me having the puppies out. At the big Tez table I joined Andy, Kay, Nick, Angela, Maddie, Sarah, Mark, a couple I didn’t know, then ordered a coke. Debbie (Darling) and Sue were sat at a separate table so I went to say hello. I was met with more compliments on my dress and I was a little concerned I may have chosen the wrong outfit. I was pleased no one had noticed I was hungover, looked rough or that I had a coke. At 8pm Sarah and I went to Rum Bar. Mark, Debbie (Darling), Roy, Andy, Kay and Sue said they definitely weren’t coming as they were going home after Tez Bar, but the others said they were going to pay up and join us. I’d reserved an area big enough for 10 people but at 8.10pm there was just me, Sarah and the 2 dogs, Yaps and Persil! Des arrived and was very complimentary of me getting dressed up, I decided this dress was definitely coming with me to Vietnam. I forced a Pina Colada down which I made last for hours. Rach and Nuri were next to arrive, by 10pm Adam and Kath arrived after their meal and joined us for a couple, which was nice. Just before 11pm, I was honestly ready for bed, more people showed up; Ülkü & Onur, Angela & Nick, Roy, Gareth, Mark and Maddie. Gareth, Debbie (Darling)’s son-in-law amazed me by telling me he saw me last night, pushing Bluey2 past Lukka bar. I didn’t recall this but I apparently spoke to him and told him I was heading home, I’d collected Bluey2 from Retro bar on my way home from Sofra bar. When Mark and Roy ordered a beer I asked for a glass of red wine but Mark decided we would share a bottle, as well as him having a beer and being pretty drunk already. I had 1 glass, Mark had a glass and 2 beers but then we put the top back on and asked Maddie to put it in her bag. Louize and her husband, Billy, were out with family and were celebrating Billy’s birthday at Rum Bar with a cake, which they kindly sent us over a plate of.

By midnight I was thinking I could say farewell to Des but that didn’t happen as he announced we were all going to Rodrigo’s bar. To be honest, it’s not my favourite bar; the owner and staff are nice but the toilets could do with a good clean and it’s the type of place that has pole dancing and karaoke on a Thursday.
Some people said bye but the rest of us (Roy, Gareth, Maddie, Mark, Ülkü, Onur, Sarah, Rach, Nuri, Des and I) made it to Rodrigo’s. I ordered a red wine, Rach and Nuri didn’t stop long and, with it being a school night, I don’t think Sarah was far behind them. Oddly Des and Ülkü were the next to leave on account of him having to get up early to go to the airport. He was getting picked up by Fikri, flying to Istanbul from Dalaman and then off to Georgia for a bit. He had loved Dalyan and Turkey so was hoping to come back at some point, but if not we would meet again, somewhere in Asia, in 2023. It had been great to see Des and his visit had gone even better than I could have imagined. When he left he said some lovely things as I hugged and kissed him goodbye. I was a little teary as he left so I thought I’d go to the toilet to wash my face and get a tissue. That plan did not work out well, at all! Things were about to get messy, very messy indeed!

As I went from outside Rodrigo’s bar to the step at the door, I had tears in my eyes and I was trying not to cry. I noticed there was a wooden pallet, with a plastic covering on top, as a step from the outside seating area to the bar area/dancefloor. I had my nice black sandals on, bought for me by Khánh Linh at Jungle Boss as a gift a few years ago. My right sandal went under the top of the step covering but my foot went to go on top of it. I felt a sharp pain, kind of like stubbing my toe but it was on the bottom of my big toe. I retreated and sat down as I felt a bit woozy and I didn’t want to look down. Maddie had gone to chat to Trish on the table next to me, Roy and Gareth were messing about on a mobility scooter, Onur was drinking beer and Mark was chatting to some new friends who he’d been out and about with earlier on. The pain was pretty bad but then I felt a warm and wet sensation which I suspected was blood and I didn’t want to look down. I interrupted Maddie and asked her if she would come to the toilet with me, I told her what happened, she looked at my foot, told me not to look and escorted me slowly to the bathroom. I felt faint and I tried to will myself not to fall on the floor, as it became apparent that my foot was bleeding, a lot!
Maddie took my sandal off and looked at it and it was difficult to see what I’d done exactly, she also has a phobia of touching feet. I fainted on to the toilet floor which was not clean. Maddie got the staff to bring me water and I asked for sugar as I came round. She had washed my sandal, and had got some damp tissue to try to clean up my foot. It hurt and was bleeding a bit too much, I needed to get out of the very small, and incredibly hot, toilet. The staff sorted out a sofa for me next to the dancefloor and we got there, where we propped my leg. Maddie had to face her fears and apply pressure to the cut to try to stop the bleeding. Savaş, the owner, wanted to call an ambulance but I wouldn’t let him. By this time, Onur had noticed what was going on and I thought he had come to help. He sat next to Maddie and I and seemed to be friendly enough until Mark noticed I was laying on a sofa with a bleeding foot. He was absolutely hammered and was hardly able to string a sentence together but he sat next to me to check what was going on. Maddie asked Mark to get more wet tissue from the toilet but he couldn’t function and eventually brought only dry. Onur took over this task and then got annoyed with Mark for being incapable of helping. Maddie was doing really well, despite also being quite tiddly and dressed in a lovely summer dress which I was very conscious I didn’t want to ruin by getting blood on. I was so sober by this time that I could sense that Onur had issues with Mark. Mark helped in the only way he knew how; by ordering me a glass of red wine and telling me to be quiet! He then had a temporary snooze at the side of me after drinking another double vodka RedBull.
While Maddie left me to sort getting Mark home I noticed a few friendly faces at the bar, one of which was Jackie, who’s a nurse.
She came over, applied pressure to my cut and told me I’d live. Mark rode off on his bicycle, Onur, the chef at a local restaurant, was getting a bit out of order now. He’d already tried to pick a fight with Mark, I had a go at him and asked him to leave, he wouldn’t and was nasty to me. I was not in the mood, I asked the bar man to call me a taxi, which he did and I left. I had no idea how I would make it up the stairs to the apartment but I had to.
It was gone 4.30am when I got in, my foot was still bleeding and it was pretty sore, I wrapped my foot in kitchen roll and put a sock on so I could get to sleep, just as the call to prayer started!

Dalyan – 25th May

Dalyan – 25th May

Wednesday 25th May turned in to one of those days! I was already missing Vanessa, who had gone back to England on Saturday, the day we all had the jolly out with the Muğla Chamber of Commerce and Business. I knew I was going to miss her at Turkish class, and for drinks with the pool gang later that afternoon. I used leftover Yorkshire pudding mixture to make pancakes for breakfast before going to Turkish class, which I ended up late for. Today we started learning more about family in Turkish which is similar to Vietnamese in the hierarchy and complexity of who’s who.
While we were having our Turkish class, Kate arrived early and was able to make use of the lovely swimming pool at Casablanca hotel, I’d forgotten my swimmers. After her lesson we ordered food and this time I went for the cheeseburger which Vanessa had recommended from last week. Kate ordered a spaghetti bolognese which didn’t come with cheese but the waiter brought some when asked. We had a beer to wash down our very tasty lunch and then we went over to Retro bar to join the pool gang. It was very busy at Retro today, lots of the women were already sat outside so we joined some of Kate’s friends. My friend, Annie, who I met on a Dalyan boat trip, had just arrived in town so she came to join us for a beer too.
When Nazim closed Retro bar’s pool table, so that he could get the place ready for the Wednesday night quiz, some of the pool guys were disappointed that they weren’t able to continue playing.  Matt got everyone together and suggested they go to Sinan’s bar, which had a pool table and was nearby, a few of the fellas were quite drunk and it was almost 5pm. Most of the people I was with, left, and either went home or to Sinan’s. Kate had gone home to feed the cats but was coming back to join us. Annie and I went to Sinan’s as it’s on the way back to her hotel. It was only my second time of being in Sinan’s because in the past I’ve usually found it a popular place for smokers so have always avoided it. It was friendly and seemed nice, a merry Matt was just happy to be playing pool again. By the time Kate arrived at 7.15pm, we were sozzled but some of us were booked in to do the quiz at Retro bar. I still had my shorts and strappy top on but not enough time to change so I had to cycle down to Retro, with Mark and Kate, looking underdressed.

While Annie had to get back to her hotel to get ready for dinner, Mark, Kate and I cycled back to Retro bar and joined my parents in readiness for the quiz. I said hello to Nazim, Andrea, Nusret, Gonca, Murat, Deniz and then went to see Dick and his team to wish him well for the quiz tonight. Mark and I were pretty drunk so sharing a bottle of red wine was probably a bit silly, but seemed more cost effective as we got a good one at a decent price from Nazim. From what I remember, the quiz went well, we didn’t win but we had a good laugh. There was a massive storm where it rained really hard, I had the sense to move Bluey2 to a sheltered area when Kate moved their bikes.
We paid our bills then things got a tad messy as we all decided to go to Sofra bar and we invited Nusret and Gonca with us too. At Sofra we drank draft beer and I danced with my parents and Nusret. I tried to ruin a karaoke singers song and don’t even know what the song was. I took lots of photos and after Nusret, Gonca, Kate and my parents had all left, by 12.45am, Mark and I ordered another pint each. We got chatting to a young fella and Mark got his skipper’s ticket out, presumably to show he could drive a boat. I think I got in very late and I was certainly still awake when the call to prayer went off – Thursday was going to be a struggle and a half!

Dalyan – 24th May

Dalyan – 24th May

Now that I knew I was going to Vietnam to see Captain Caveman I was a bit concerned there were still things I needed to do and places I wanted to go before I left Dalyan. On Tuesday 24th May I started a list of those things, acutely aware I had less than a fortnight left. Ma & Pa had invited me to the beach today and I was looking forward to it. There are 2 ways to get to Iztuzu beach by public transport; boat which is currently 60 lira (£3) or bus which is 28 lira (£1.40) return. We got the bus as this takes you to the quieter end of the beach and I got a return ticket because it was too hot to walk the length of the beach to get to the boat end. I paid 90 lira for 3 sunbeds and a parasol which we unfortunately selected in the smoking section but didn’t realise. I’m not a massive beach lover as I hate sand but with smoke and fag ash blowing at me it was less pleasurable than it should’ve been. The sea was chilly but good enough for a deep paddle, refreshing. I’d took a picnic of a cheese and ham sandwich, water and a grapefruit drink but my parents had a sandwich at the beach cafe, for less than £1.50 each. I shared some of their chips and had a peach tea too. Back on the beach I continued to read my book, Mike Tyson’s autobiography, which is really good.
I’ve stopped buying credit for my Turkish phone, which I rarely use, because it’s a waste of money. It also forces me to not have a phone when I’m away from home or somewhere with free wi-fi – it’s a good way to switch off more. When the wind got up and sand was blowing about we decided to leave, via the cafe for refreshments. My parents had a Magnum, I played it safe with a Calippo orange lolly but then we missed the bus and had to wait half an hour for the next one. I was booked in for Pilates at 6.30pm so didn’t want to miss that, first though, Mom suggested a cheeky drink at Tez bar where they had an Efes and I had a Summer IPA. I went home to get ready and left them at Tez while I went to my class. Back at the apartment the roses outside Amanda and Greg’s were really blooming, the pool was looking good and had been used. I did notice a tree branch from the neighbour’s was sticking out at a jaunty angle, directly in to the path to walk to the pool. After Bougainvillea-gate in September I decided it was not my business to involve myself in getting it removed, there were quite a few owners and renters in the apartments right now who could let the gardener know.
My Dad suffers with his indigestion if he eats late so I was surprised when my parents were up for going out for dinner at 8pm. We went to Firat’s which is another one of their favourite places to eat. As an appetiser we were brought a rather large lavaş, or balloon bread, with some garlic butter. Mom ordered a fresh sea bream, I had a pide and Dad had a beef casserole with cheese that was hotter than the sun. We had a glass of wine each and I took some of my pide home as it was a massive portion. It was a really lovely day, spent with my parents, and almost the calm before the storm as the rest of the week was about to get a tad lively!

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 – 22nd May

Dalyan – 22nd May

Sunday 22nd May should have been a day to stay home and rest up, and it did start out that way!
I got up late, despite not having had much sleep due to the music of the Jazz bar, and then the early call to prayer. For breakfast I made myself beans on toast with 2 of Dick’s sausages. I cooked a whole pack so that I could make a sausage casserole tomorrow too. I was a bit annoyed that my TV, which had not been showing any programme listing information, was still not right so I had to play Russian roulette with what might be on what channels. I wanted to record the Grand Prix but couldn’t work out when it would be on. Instead I listened to music and was pleased I’d made it to the sofa today. For lunch I had a cheese sandwich with the Red Leicester from Dick and the spare breadcake from Ula that was still in my bag.
I realised we had possibly been neglecting Des, who had been busy working and catching up with his new Dalyan friends. We agreed to meet at Backyard No.9 and I invited some of the gang so that he wasn’t bored with just me. My parents and I were the first there, Sarah was going to join us and Des arrived just as we had ordered our drinks. Mark and Kate were already out with a few others at Rehab bar so said they wouldn’t be coming. When Sarah arrived she had brought me a pair of sunglasses which she was recycling. They were slightly broken but I cleaned them on a serviette and popped them on to try them out for size.
I love the pizzas at Backyard No.9; three out of the five of us ordered one. Mom had tuna and onion pizza, I had the Dalyan pizza with feta, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers, Sarah had one with parma ham and rocket, while Dad had a cheeseburger with chips and Des chose a pasty type dish. It isn’t the cheapest place but the ingredients are quality and fresh. Ülkü and her team are really nice and friendly plus the outside space is very tastefully set up. It was a lovely meal and we enjoyed the wine too.
After we had eaten, Mark and Kate were on their way home and popped in for a drink and a chat. They had to get back to feed the cats so only had one beer – they can’t be party animals every night!!
We also went home reasonably early and I promised myself a couple of rest days from tomorrow. I was still waiting to hear if I had been granted a visa for Vietnam yet and hoped that tomorrow would bring good news.

Muğla area – 21st May

Muğla area – 21st May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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