Turkey travel diary: Day 6: Swimtrek day 4

This morning we met at 9am but this time we were departing from Kas (not Ucagiz), so we walked from the hotel down to the town marina pier.

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

We boarded our new gulet for the next two days. This gulet was smaller and not as nice as the previous two days’ boat. Ah well. We’d been pretty spoilt thus far – with amazing weather, delicious feast and a great location. Can’t complain. Mind you, it was still pretty luxurious.

From Swimtrek day 4

Before I go on, I will also mention the fact that I was suffering some kind of allergic reaction to the water. Despite the clear, warm, blue waters we were swimming in, there was also some kind of sea lice or something. Everyone was experiencing prickling during our swims. Littler critters would sting and prickle all of us. But I have super sensitive skin and an allergy to bugs and stuff, that I started to get an allergic reaction and was breaking out in an itchy rash – much like the one back here in Japan that time. It was the same experience all over. I had major itchy rashes on my arm and torso causing major discomfort. I had prepared for this, and had packed an assortment of creams just in case. One other lady was experiencing the same reaction, me to a worse extent though. All over my arms and torso I had red itchy spots and rashes. My skin is a little bit precious, me thinks. I think I have some kind of histamine issue in my system. Even though other people felt the stinging and prickles, no one else was having a reaction to it. Here are some photos of Kas from the boat out on the water:

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

Anyway, today we headed out into Greek waters near the Greek island of Megisti which is super close to Turkey. We were not allowed to step onto Greek soil, (which would have been cool) so we settled for Greek waters instead. Megisti – Greek Island (otherwise known as Kastellorizo – a tiny, tiny Greek island, less than 12 square km):

From Swimtrek day 4

Instead of a coastal swim, we were going to do a crossing swim today. From Greek waters we would swim into Turkish waters. This was one hell of a rough crossing swim, and it was about 4km.

From Swimtrek day 4

Here we are chilling out on the boat just prior to the swim. Little did we know what was in store for us.

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

The swim today was so difficult that we probably swam just under 5km – taking us 1hr and 45min. The conditions were super choppy and bouncy. It was so rough that one of the girls was getting seasick in the water and had to get back on the boat. It was a slog of a swim. Land seemed so elusive. Seriously, felt like we were getting nowhere despite swimming our hearts out. It was long and tiring. Felt like the never-ending swim. I felt like I was trapped in one of those snowglobes being shaken about. Others likened it to being in a washing machine. Either way, not pleasant. I soldiered through the swim. At long last, we got back on the boat. Even the boat was rocking about pretty heavily. Everyone was feeling slightly lightheaded and nauseous. The most traumatising swim to date. But at least we had swum from Greece to Turkey. Pretty darn cool. For extra cheese factor, we had a group photo with both the Greek and Turkish flag. Yay us.

From Swimtrek day 4

During the crossing swim, adding to the fact that we were in super choppy waters, I also happened to get stung by a jellyfish. At no point did I see the jellyfish coz it was so choppy and bouncy, I didn’t know left from right, but I certainly felt it. I swore and clutched at my arm. A jellyfish sting feels as though 20 needles are being jabbed into you at once, and then it just throbs. I kept on swimming though…because clearly I’m hardcore (or just plain foolhardy). Upon later inspection of my arm, you could see the marks that the jellyfish had made – one of which is a full circle around my arm where its tentacle had wrapped itself around – I have a nice little scar that spans my whole arm width, and a couple of smaller whiplash-style sting marks. At least, it doesn’t itch like the rash that covered the rest of my body. I also got stung on my thigh – got a nice jellyfish scar there too. I don’t think these are going away any time soon, but I’m hoping they’ll fade in time. Hopefully a tan will hide the scars. If I were a guy, they’d be totally badass, but alas, I am not, so I just look like I’ve flagellated myself with barb wire. I suppose a jellyfish sting was inevitable. I thought that my reaction would have been worse considering I’m allergic to bees. I had gotten myself an Epipen for the trip in the event of a bad reaction to a jellyfish sting. After being scarred by the morning’s intense rough swim, we were lucky that today was in fact a half day. Hell, we needed the rest of the day to recover. We were midweek into the tour, and one of the days is designated as a half-day so we can fit in our own sightseeing and free time, and get a break from the swimming. I think I was turning into a mermaid. So back to Kas we went for a free afternoon to do as we pleased. I felt a bit lightheaded back on land. I think everyone was feeling light on their feet as we all felt as though we were still rocking about. A combination of the sun, dehydration, seasickness and jellyfish sting. I probably could have done with a nap but I didn’t want to waste the day. Plus, I had errands to run. I took a photowalk through the town. Kas is a small hilly cliffside seatown. It’s quite romantic, really. A nice little honeymoon destination. Here are some photos I took as I got acquainted with the town of Kas. I hadn’t spent much time on land in the last few days.

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

Pomegranates are in abundance in Turkey:

From Swimtrek day 4

Once in town, I had to make some travel arrangements for my second week in Turkey. I had not planned a single thing beyond the swimtrek. I was just going to wing it once I got there. I booked a bus out of Kas for the Sunday onto my next destination. I also needed to book a flight back to Istanbul at the local travel agent etc. Just errandy stuff – but super productive. Went to the supermarket just to check it out. I like checking out foreign supermarkets. Got me some Powerade drinks. I was feeling dehydrated the last couple of days despite drinking over 2 litres of water a day. I felt like water alone wasn’t cutting it. Needed me some sugar and electrolytes just to give me a bit of strength. One of the guys told me he had packed protein powder and had been mixing that and drinking it everyday, just to recharge him. Smart. Even though I was eating well, I don’t think I was eating enough in comparison to what I was burning. I was trying to avoid overeating which is easy to do on holidays, mainly to avoid bloating. I didn’t want to eat big meals before big swims. Even though I was eating a lot, it was probably nothing in comparison to what I normally eat. I eat way more in everyday life. Some more photos of the town:

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

Not just any beer. BIG beer.

From Swimtrek day 4

Lots of local markets:

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

Kas is a really nice pretty town – surrounded by turquoise waters of the mediterranean and the rocky mountains of the Lycian Way. Lots of nice boutique stores, a marina pier and plenty of really nice seaside dining restaurants serving up great food. It’s a really hard place to hate.

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

You can do things like parasailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, boat trips out to the Greek Islands and various day boat trips to other nearby islands and ruins, as well shopping, eating, and sun-tanning (tsk tsk). Do not neglect the suncream. I was really good about applying suncream all over, but the one spot I missed were my hands. With all the swimming I was doing, my hands got quite tanned and look like they’ve aged. Was vigilant about applying it everywhere else though – arms, shoulders, neck, back of legs, back, face etc. Headed back to the hotel where I had a very late lunch and spent some time trying to research and plan accommodation for the rest of my trip. Had not booked anywhere to stay after the swimtrek. Just took it easy for the rest of the arvo. One of the nice things about doing this swimtrek, and just being on holidays in general, was seeing the sun set over the water each day. It was a daily ritual.

From Swimtrek day 4
From Swimtrek day 4

In the evening, had dinner with a two other fellow swimtrekkers at Ikbal – which rates as one of the best places to dine at. The service and food here was amazing!!!! It lived up to its reputation. Another satisfying day…although my body was a little worse for wear – itchy, red and stinging. But with all this swimming, I was feeling fit! Felt so healthy and alive. The endorphins were really kicking in with all this exercise. Swimming is really invigorating and meditative – gives you time to be totally free of thoughts, yet at the same time, an opportunity to reflect. Swimming provides such clarity and I was feeling a change within me. It was also really pleasant to be at one with nature – swimming in the wild deep blue ocean – a whole other world, as well as being in the sunshine, and surrounded by mountains and water. Such a nice change from the daily grind of everyday life and working in an office. Truly a wonderful experience doing this swimtrek and we were only halfway through the week! More photos here.

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