Tag Archive | swimtrek

Swimming adventures

This is the last post, I promise, of swimming pics from Turkey. These are photos that were taken by Mustafah – the boat captain for the last two days. In addition, to driving the boat he would run around and take photos of us all whilst we were in the water swimming. He had an impressive Canon Digital SLR camera. Here are plenty of action swimming shots of me and my fellow swimtrekkers, accompanied by our swim guide escorts. Viva open water swimming. No boundaries. No lanes. No walls to kick off from. No chlorine. We battle the waves, the sea water and the marine life.

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

Here’s a few of me, in action:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

One of the minor challenges of open water swimming, was knowing where our destination was. Kind of hard to tell which way to swim and having to sight. Which way? That way!

From Action swimtrek

Middle of the pack:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

Mr. D doing a backdive into the water. Don’t try that at home kiddies!

From Action swimtrek

I forgot to mention that there were a few hand signals that we had to learn for the duration of the trip. There was a signal for ‘help’, a signal for “I’m ok” and can you guess what this one was for:

From Action swimtrek

The letter “W” made with both hands. It meant you were taking a leak in the water, just to let others know around you to keep clear. No one actually made this signal during the trip. We all just peed anyway…but of course you’d swim away from the group. (Well, I hope others were offering the same courtesy!) Here’s a group photo of us yellow-cap swimmers. We look pretty happy and glowing – high on endorphins and sunshine:

From Action swimtrek

Drink breaks involved treading water and having drink bottles thrown to us:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

This is our group setting off for the archipelago swim:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

More action shots:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek

And another one of me:

From Action swimtrek
From Action swimtrek
From Swimtrek day 3

I took a couple of videos on the trip. They’re a bit lame. And I haven’t edited them (don’t know how and can’t be bothered). Here’s one of the water as we sail on the boat. Click link. This video was taken at Aperlae. I was in the water and taking a video of the other practising swim drills. This has a lot of noise, so best on mute. And this video is kind of crazy. I was taking footage of Mr. A freedive down to the sunken coast guard boat, but this was the failed attempt. The water was super choppy and it was quite deep in this part of the sea. After the failed freedive attempt, I didn’t realise the video was still running, so I have all this random footage of what looks like me being tumbled around in a washing machine. I’m obviously trying to stay afloat, and tread water, but my hand holding the camera is waving about under the water with the video still running. It was really nice to be able to have the luxury to spend 2-3 hours a day swimming. These swimming adventure holidays are a great way to travel. I promise, no more photos. That’s it. Got no more left to show you. My blog will resume back to its regular dribble of food and life in Japan. There are a few other companies that offer swim adventure holidays. Swimtrek is the most prominent and has the most extensive and comprehensive destination itineraries, but it’s more convenient for those in the UK and Europe. I also highly recommend booking in advance, because they book out really quickly. I booked in February this year for an October departure. I had wanted to go in September, but they were booked out. 3-6 months advance booking is ideal…also gives you time to train and get in shape! There are a few other competitors out there but are more specific to a particular locale. SwimVacations – focus mostly on the British Virgin Islands and Caribbean SwimSafari – is more Australia friendly in terms of location. They run swim safaris in Fiji and Vanuatu. Doing one of the 5km OWS races there is on my bucketlist, but they also run swimming tour holidays as well. Would like to do one of these once I’m back in Australia. And if you missed my day-by-day recount of the week-long swimtrek here are the quicklinks: Swimtrek day 1 Swimtrek day 2 Swimtrek day 3 Swimtrek day 4 Swimtrek day 5 Swimtrek day 6

Turkey travel diary: Day 8 – swimtrek day 6 (last day)

So far I’ve only gotten around to posting up the first week in Turkey – the week of the swimtrek – so after today, I’ll put up one more post and that’ll it be it (and maybe one more bonus post). I may eventually get around to posting up some other stuff about my Turkey travels, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon. I have over 3,000 photos I need to sort through of my second week in Turkey (3,176 photos to be precise, which I need to organize and cull. Whoa, that’s about 450 photos, on average, I was taking, per day). I really need to learn the art of restraint. Day 6 of the Lycian Way swimtrek: A little sad that the trip was drawing to an end. It would be a day of lasts. This would be our last full day of swimming. Our last day out on the turkish yacht. Another two great swims were had. First up was an archipelago swim – how cool is that. It was a 3.5km circular swim around a small cluster of islands between Turkey and Greece, so we swam from one island to another.

From swimtrek day 6

Towards the end of the week, and by this time, I was suffering from some neck and shoulder chafing. Vaseline – a must. So were some photos of the Vaseline ritual. Rubber gloves and some petroleum jelly. Most of us (especially the gals), opted to apply our own, but our swimguides were on hand to help us out. Mr. D looks rather menacing with his latex glove, looking for his next vaseline victim:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Going in for the kill:

From swimtrek day 6

Here’s the start of the archipelago swim:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

The pink group set off:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

I look ready to swim:

From swimtrek day 6

One island down:

From swimtrek day 6

Our morning swim was rewarded by a lunch feast of shish kebabs – yum. Our last lunch feast, cooked right on the boat.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Can’t top these water views. Seaside dining, redefined:

From swimtrek day 6

And how lucky were we with the weather. We had been blessed with glorious weather and sunshine all week. Temps in the high 20s. Was sporting quite the tan after this week. Lots of delicious, healthy, fresh food:

From swimtrek day 6

Everyone digging in:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Lunch was followed by some chillaxing on the sundecks. It was going to be so hard to go back to reality:

From swimtrek day 6

There was more stuff to see underwater. Today, a shipwrecked fighter plane that had crashed into the sea for real (and not just planted there for the scuba divers).

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Our last afternoon swim was a nice coastal swim past some Lycian tombs and cliffside (about a 2km swim). Here are some action shots during the swimtrek. Each group was escorted by a swim guide in a boat, on hand to throw us drinks when needed and to provide us direction.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

A water bubble shot of Mr. D:

From Swimtrek day 5

Some fish:

From swimtrek day 6

This last swim was pretty exciting because we got to see a couple of large sea turtles which I thought was really cool. I was swimming with my underwater camera on me, so I was lucky to be able to take these snaps. I was surprised how close we could get to the turtle. The turtle is well camouflaged in the first couple of shots, but then I got some really clear ones:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

That was one of the highlights of the trip. I’m glad I got to see one whilst we were actually swimming in the water (and had the camera tucked into my cossies). We reached the Lycian tombs:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Ah bliss. What a great way to end the swimtrek! Totally satisfied. We climbed back onto the boat and made our way back to Kas. This random fisherman tried to sell us some fish he had caught:

From swimtrek day 6

Back to Kas we went:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

We finished at around 4pm, and had a few hours to kill before our last final group dinner at the hotel. Water views from my hotel balcony:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

On this last day, I had one thing I had left to do that I wanted to do – and that was to take a visit out to the Amphitheatre ruins which was about a 20min walk. We had seen it from the water on the previous day, but I had wanted to go out there. I went for a photowalk out to the amphitheatre…to take in one last time the beauty of Kas and my time there, and to see one more last sunset.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

The amphitheatre was surrounded by olive trees:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Great views to be had up here. Definitely worth coming out here for a bit of solitude, scenery and a stunning sunset for a bit of quiet reflection.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Best lookout point in Kas for sure, which is probably overlooked by a lot of visitors and tourists:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

I’ve run out of adjectives to use…stunning, breathtaking, amazing…

From swimtrek day 6

This next photo is a little sad though. It depresses me a bit. Take note of this man…you’ll see why a bit further down:

From swimtrek day 6

It captures such loneliness.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

I stayed up here for a bit over an hour taking in the scenery, until it got dark.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

And then I made my way back into town and back to the hotel in time for our group dinner. Took more photos on my way back. Here’s a few of some kittens. Lots of cats in Kas.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

These were really two kittens and not some trick double photography!

From swimtrek day 6

Now, you remember the photos above of the old man sitting alone at the amphitheatre? Well, I happened to pass him again, sitting alone, in the main town square. I didn’t realise it was the same guy until I actually went back through all these photos! All I remember at the time, was thinking that they were great images to take a photo of, but didn’t realise it was the same old man, alone. Makes me wonder what his story is.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

Time for one last final dinner, this time a group farewell dinner, as people would be departing the next day. A week went by fast! Drinks first:

From swimtrek day 6

Dinner was on the sea deck by candlelight:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

We celebrated the last night in style – roasted whole leg of lamb that had been slow-roasted for 10 hours (we had to decided our order the previous day so they can spend the whole day slow-roasting them). What a feast! One leg of lamb was shared between groups of four. I think I singlehandedly ate half a whole leg of lamb. I could totally indulge now totally guilt-free after a week of clocking up 25km of swims.

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

And lots of wine!

From swimtrek day 6

Followed by more drinks – a lot of beer judging by the table:

From swimtrek day 6
From swimtrek day 6

It ended up being a big night for some! People were up for celebrating, and it was the only night that we could let loose with the drinking because we couldn’t swim with hangovers during the week, happened to be a Saturday night too, so a handful went out nightclubbing. I called it a night and went to bed instead. A massive week of swimming, I had no energy left. Most people were also heading back home the next day, but I still had another week of travel around Turkey! Totally satisfied. It had been an amazing week. An experience that can never be relived. Truly magical. Am also totally hooked on doing another swimtrek tour. I had known before I even did this one, that I would want to do one every year…and I think I may very well might. There’s a few other destinations I’m interested in going to. It was a hard decision to do the Turkey one first…so will definitely get around to doing a few of the other destinations over the next few years. Just the idea of it sustains me. If you’re interested in doing a swimtrek, you should check out their website. You don’t need to a fast swimmer to join. They cater for all levels and speed. You can breastroke the whole time if you prefer. Wetsuits, flippers, snorkle masks are fine too. Very little restrictions on swimming. And you can jump on the boat at any time if you prefer not to swim at all. Go on, take the plunge! iSwim, therefore I be. iSwim, therefore I don’t drown. What! Not enough photos, you say. Fear not. More here. You’re welcome. 5193017 2011-11-02 13:44:27 2011-11-02 04:44:27 open closed turkey-travel-diary-day-8-swimtrek-day-6-last-day publish 0 0 post 0 Fitness passing time photography Swimming Swimming Travel travel Turkey _edit_last 253158 Turkey travel diary: Last day swimtrek (officially) http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2011/11/04/turkey-travel-diary-last-day-swimtrek-officially/ Fri, 04 Nov 2011 00:30:40 +0000 aleishariboldi@gmail.com http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/?p=5193007 Sunday, October 9, 2011 A sad day. The last day of the swimtrek. Officially. (Thank god, you say. Enough of these swimming photos!) It was actually a semi-half day. There were 2 optional early morning swims – at 7am and at 8:30am. I made it up for the 8:30am. Seemed the morning was a struggle for some, given the previous night’s drinking antics. Last swim for the holiday took place in the bay in front of the hotel. Clouds were rolling in, it was grey and overcast. Storms were predicted for the next few days, and indeed it rained for most of the next week. I had been lucky with the weather on this trip. I would have hated to be out on the boat and in the water with it raining all week, especially given how blessed we were with the weather on the week that I did it. The holiday gods had been upon us. Felt a bit bad for the next swimtrek group that would have had a week of rain on their trip. We did a round lap of the bay out the front of the hotel, for a last refreshing swim. The water temp was so much cooler.

From Swimtrek – last day
From Swimtrek – last day
From Swimtrek – last day
From Swimtrek – last day

Breakfast, and then good-byes dragged out during the day as people left – some on flights back home, some onwards with their Turkey travels, and a few were staying an extra night in Kas and leaving the next day. Parting is such sweet sorrow. It was great to have met an awesome bunch of people though. I was due to leave on an overnight bus that evening so I still had the whole day spare. Myself and a couple of the other girls went for a hamam – a Turkish steam bath. This is something that has to be experienced to be believed. For many foreigners that come to Japan – onsens and the ritual (and pasttime) of public communal bathing is quite foreign and can be uncomfortable for some. I’m so used to communal bathing that I don’t think much of it. A hamam is a similar, yet different experience. Basically, your entire body is scrubbed and washed by someone as you lie naked on a marble table. I was a little apprehensive, but I decided to go with one of the other girls and we went together to experience a Turkish bath. When in Rome, ay. The Hamam Experience (Turkish bathing), explained: Strip off and wear a bikini. And wrap a towel around you. You’ll be taken to the steam bath room where basically you lie on a hot marble table and sweat it out. We were in there for an extraordinarily long time – 40 minutes of steaming. It’s usually only about 10 min or so. Then the Turkish woman (or man) comes in and lies you down on the marble table. I think the locals do this totally naked, perhaps, but for most tourists – they let you wear a bikini, although they usually take your bikini top off, so you lie there pretty much naked except for a pair of knicker bottoms. I felt like a sacrificial naked lamb on a marble altar. What follows next is some abrasive dry body scrubbing. I felt as though I was a block of parmesan cheese being grated. They are not gentle with the loofah. You literally see rolls of flesh and dead skin cells being grated off your body. There’s exfoliation, and then there’s a Turkish body scrub. They take great delight in showing you all your dead skin too. They must think we’re so filthy. It made me wonder what the hell I do in the shower all these years, because I certainly hadn’t been seeing this amount of dirt and dead skin on my body. The scrubbing is intense. Good for the circulation though. I had a Turkish lady scrub me, but the other girl I was with, had a Turkish boy scrub her down. It’s all PG though and not at all sleazy. Some hamams are mixed gender as well – this one was. But luckily, no other men at the same time. After you’ve been scrubbed to within an inch of your life, you are washed down with soap. Full on lathery, bubbly soap. This part is awesome. I looked like a soap mummy. They massage you a bit with the soap as well. And yes, you’re still lying down naked the whole time. At one point, she spun me around naked on the slippery marble table. Holy crap, I thought I was gonna fly off. They wash the soap off you and then you dry off a bit. We had gone the massage option as well, so we were taken to the massage room where we laid face down and had a deep relaxing massage. This is the part where they pummel and grind you like a piece of dough. They give it especially hard to the men. I saw looks of pain for one guy that was there after us. But he also had a strong Turkish dude give it to him. I had asked them to go easy on me, so they gave me a young girl to massage me. She was really good. She was thorough. Awesome massage. I felt so clean and fresh. My skin was practically shiny. I felt like a polished apple that he been scrubbed, washed and waxed. And the massage was much needed after a week of swimming. Loved the hamam experience! Exactly what I needed. Spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and browsing the local markets with one of the girls. By this time the rain had set in and a storm was brewing:

From Swimtrek – last day
From Swimtrek – last day
From Swimtrek – last day

Turkish delight:

From Swimtrek – last day

More hidden Lycian tombs in the cliffside:

From Swimtrek – last day

And thus concludes my week of swimming around the Lycian Way, Turkey. A satisfying week of open water swimming. It’s the only way to travel now! Will definitely be doing more swimtreks to new destinations in the future. I hadn’t expected the experience to be so cathartic, like some kind of awakening within me. I was reminded of one of my favourite non-Murakami books; ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin. There’s a certain irony in that some people liberate themselves and set themselves free by drowning in the sea, yet I find so much freedom in swimming in it. Much better to be alive in the water, than not. Water is so lifegiving. And I had had such an amazing holiday. I still had another week of traveling around Turkey (on land) which only further cemented my love for Turkey. Such a beautiful country with diverse landscape. Since I’ve gotten back from Turkey, I’ve only hit the pools once, and I have to say that it’s not quite the same being back in a pool. It’s been a bit of a struggle to face the cholorine box. Much prefer ocean swimming. I did lose about 2kg over the course of the swimtrek which was a nice bonus and was definitely feeling healthy and fit. Am trying to keep the weight off that I’ve lost as well. It’s struggle though as we go into winter here. You’d be hardpressed to gain weight over the week with the amount of swimming we did. A parting gift we received from our swimguides was a map and swim log of the week with the swim routes and distances marked out. That was a really nice touch. A little memento of our swimming achievements:

From Swimtrek – last day

Our approximate daily swimming distances were: Tuesday – 5.5km Wednesday – 4km Thursday – 4.5km Friday – 5.5km Saturday – 6km Week total: 25.5km + leisure swims and walks. I swam more than I ever thought I could over a week. I’ll end with a few nice swimming inspiration/motivation quotes: “Don’t wait for your ship to come in – swim out to it.” ~Author Unknown “I always wanted to be Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. I can’t fly, but swimming is the next best thing. It’s harmony and balance. The water is my sky.” ~Clayton Jones “Seventy-five percent of our planet is water – can you swim?” ~Author Unknown “H2O: two parts Heart and one part Obsession.” ~Author Unknown “It’s a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” ~Author Unknown And just for laughs: “We swim because we are too sexy for a sport that requires clothes.” ~Author Unknown

Turkey travel day: Day 7 – Swimtrek day 5

Today’s post is one of my favourite days on the swimtrek. 2 great scenic coastal swims and some really cool photos that I absolutely love. —- Waking up every morning was like this:

From Swimtrek day 5

(A photo of a real sign in Kas – I think it was the name of a restaurant or a cafe). It was like the movie “Groundhog Day” but set in Paradise. Cloud 9 was my new address. Perfect weather, idyllic location, lots of swimming, great food and surrounded by stunning scenery. And because I don’t think I’ve tortured you enough with my photos and exciting recount of my time swimming around Turkey, here are some even more photos. After breakfast, we met a tad before 9am, and walked down to the marina to board our gulet (Turkish yacht), and set sail for another full day of swimming.

From Swimtrek day 5

The town of Kas in the distance:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

First up this morning was a 3km coastal swim. Another glorious day of swimming. Water was so incredibly warm, and clear, deep and blue. We got to see some really cool underwater stuff today and I took some really neat underwater photos. We passed a sunken coastguard ship that was at the bottom of the seafloor. It had been planted there for scuba divers. The morning’s coastal swim ended at Shark Bay – which is not the most comforting thing you want to hear as an open water swimmer. Shark Bay we found out, was so called, because of a concrete shark statue that lies at the bottom of the water in that bay. I have some action shots of me swimming – gave my swim guide my camera and he took a few shots of me in action, which I thought was pretty cool.

From Swimtrek day 5

And then some unattractive shots of me taking a breath. No one looks attractive in that position. Trying to avoid gulpfuls of saltwater.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Even though I was in the middle-speed group, I gotta admit, at times, I had trouble keeping up. I had never swum this much ever (well, maybe not since my swimming squad days back in high school, over a good 15 years ago). 5-6km a day, each day. It was a little tiring. I love swimming, but I’m not that fast. Endurance, rather than speed is my thing. So even though I had no trouble with the distances, I wasn’t very fast. Swimming in a group though was really good for me. It was challenging for me to keep up and made me push that little bit harder to keep up. Some of swims, I was happy to be at the back of the pack. Swimming with others, pushes you to try that bit harder. Because I swim on my own in Japan, I think I’ve gotten complacent with speed and interval training. After our 3km swim, the boat anchored in Shark Bay where we settled in for a few hours for lunch and relaxation and leisure swimming.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

The water was super clear, so I went on an underwater photo spree.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Can you see the Shark statue? (at Shark Bay):

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

I took a really cool underwater photo series of Mr. A (the hottie swimguide. I should add that he was also a nice, decent guy and not just because of his looks). Captured some really cool angles and movement. I’m not sure why I was taking photos of him. As a photographer, I’m constantly seeing things through a lens (which also makes me a super observant person of society and life), he was a really neat photo subject under the water. I’m not sure what he was doing because he wasn’t actually posing for any of these shots – I was just randomly taking photos of him, totally unbeknownst to him. And no, I wasn’t being some crazy stalker person. I, literally, take photos of everything! And these were really nice water angles of him. Of course, it helps to have a body like this (hard to peel your eyes off of):

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

I think these photos are so neat. They are pretty impressive, considering they’re taken on my underwater digital camera – they didn’t come out blurry considering the subject was moving a lot, and very little bubbles in the shot. I think the timing of the frames are also pretty spot on. He was swimming under water and I also had to be under the water to take them. I’m not the most buoyant person either, so that was challenging. Too much body fat – I float too much. The shark statue is kind of a popular spot with scuba divers as well so there were scuba divers about too.

From Swimtrek day 5

Here’s another photo series I cleverly captured:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Mr A offered to take a couple of shots of me. He anchored himself with his feet onto the shark statue and stood at the bottom of the sea floor and then had me swim over the top. I should mention that Mr A can also freedive which meant he could hold his breath for a substantial amount of time to capture these photos of me. I love this next photo of me (taken by Mr. A). This would be my favourite. How cool is that! Me swimming over the top of the water, and the photo was taken looking up from the bottom of the seafloor.

From Swimtrek day 5

iSwim. Therefore, I don’t drown. And this is another cool one of me swimming towards the light. This photo captures the essence of my whole experience on the swimtrek holiday in Turkey – me, being in the water, seeing light, seeing clarity. It captures solitude, freedom, opportunity, power, a balance of human existence and nature. Such a purifying and invigorating experience. And this frame captures that. A single moment of an amazing experience that spanned days.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Enough of the photo shoot (for now, anyway). Lunch today was fish, which was grilled off the back of the boat by Mustafah (our boat captain):

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Best water view restaurant in the house:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

After lunch, we had more fun in the water and more underwater snaps.

From Swimtrek day 5

Here is a neat one that I took of Mr. D (the other swimguide) – cool meditation pose that he’s doing. Do you realise how hard that pose is to do underwater! You’ve got to have no body fat on you to pull that off:

From Swimtrek day 5

More random group shots:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

And then a couple more playful shots of me that someone else took:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Here are some underwater snaps of some fish:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

And check out this interesting fish:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

I also went back out to the sunken coastguard ship on the motor dinghy with the guides and took some more underwater shots of Mr. A freediving. This was at a depth of about 19m, which he freedove. Super impressive, and the fact that there were scuba divers down there with masks and oxygen tanks, and was totally doing this on his own – he did have a snorkle mask I think. Check out the sunken coast guard ship:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

It was a lot deeper out here. The depth was a bit too much for my camera too handle, so wasn’t able to get down too deep.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Another short photo series I took of Mr. A freediving – I think he was swimming through the hull of the ship. Mind you, this was nearly 20m under water, as well. He goes in:

From Swimtrek day 5

He comes out:

From Swimtrek day 5

And then back up to the surface:

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

All these underwater shots were not easy to take. I’ve got to tread water in the choppy water, take deep breaths and go under water and focus on the camera lens. You’ve got to time the frames to capture a decent shot, but at the same time try not to get bubbles in the frame, and I was having to keep coming up for air. I didn’t have a snorkle mask so a lot of deep breaths. A lot of fun in the water today. So much stuff to see. It was a very scenic swim. The afternoon was spent doing another coastal swim of about 2km (I think this was the shortest swim the whole week). This time we swam to Pebble Beach (which is close to Kas).

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

Pebble Beach in the distance:

From Swimtrek day 5

And then back onto the boat past the Amphitheatre and back to Kas.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

We got back to Kas around 4pm and had the evening at leisure. Some of us walked around the local markets before heading back to the hotel.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

A big group of us went to dinner at Bahce for a mezze feast.

From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5
From Swimtrek day 5

A well-earnt beer:

From Swimtrek day 5

Another solid day of swimming and eating. Today we swam about 5-6km. My body was still itchy and I was getting some chafing on my neck and back shoulders after all this swimming. Definitely feeling healthy and fit. All this sunshine and exercise. This holiday was so motivating and inspiring. It made me feel as though I could do anything. Life was full of so much possibility. A holiday will make you feel that way. If there’s not enough photos here for your liking, then check out the Photo album.

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.

Turkey travel diary: Day 5 – swimtrek day 3

Just another day in paradise. Sigh. The holidays gods were truly upon us. Couldn’t have scripted a more perfect day.

From Swimtrek day 3

Another beautiful sunny day on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, and a buffet breakfast to wake up to. Breakfast – a la Turkish style:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

This is what I ate every morning for the whole week:

From Swimtrek day 3

Lots of watermelon (needed the water and sugar content before braving the gulpfuls of saltwater I’d be consuming), omelette, and the savoury Turkish pastry thing that I could have eaten by the truckload, washed down with a couple cups of tea. I avoided cereal, yoghurt and cheese – can’t really handle dairy before swimming in the sea. Breakfast was served from 8am everyday and we often had to be ready to go before 9am, so we’d be up early every morning to get breakfast before our start time. I have to admit, that I had sore shoulders when I woke up this morning. Super tight back and shoulders from the previous days’ 6km swim. After breakfast today though, we had a video technique-analysis session. The videos that the guides had taken of us yesterday were going to be played back to us on a tv screen (argh, cringe). We all sat around and watched each other’s video (both the above water and underwater film) and critiqued each other’s stroke and technique. The guides gave us really helpful swimming tips and drills to improve our technique. I thought this session was great. Turns out I’ve been swimming wrong for the last 25 years (I’ve been swimming since I was about 5 years old)! Well, not necessarily that I had been swimming wrong, but my form could definitely be improved on. Got some great tips from this session. Swim guide Mr. D, was super helpful and knowledgeable with technique analysis. He does this professionally, as well as being a triathlon coach. Definitely gave me some areas to improve on and some things to address whilst swimming for the remainder of the week. Day 3 was back out at Ucagiz again, so on the bus and back out on the Turkish gulet we set asail. Map of the Lycian Way waters we were swimming in:

From Swimtrek day 3

Drink bottles – they were going to come in handy for the morning swim!

From Swimtrek day 3

First up was a 4km coastal swim which we did in about 1h 22min, with breaks for drinks etc. I was pretty beat after this 4km swim. I was changing my stroke though and I have to say, that this definitely prevented me from getting sore shoulders for the rest of the week! It really made a difference! Arms need to reach out straight, in line with my shoulders and not cross to the middle. Crossing the arms – a big no no. Reach. Roll. Relax. Glide. Get more distance with each stroke. Don’t drop the elbows under the water. Minimize underwater hand bubbles and roll the body more so your torso is also getting a work out. My main problem was the lack of roll in my stroke. I was too flat on the water. Super helpful for my stroke. But I think I was swimming slower as I was trying to focus on all this. Here are some scenic water photos. This one is of the pink group. They were the slowest group, so they always started first to get a bit of a head start:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

The marine life wasn’t very exciting here (not compared to last year in Dahab, Egypt), nevertheless we saw plenty of somewhat small fish:

From Swimtrek day 3

The escort motor dinghy:

From Swimtrek day 3

Crystal clear water:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

4km done. After each swim, there’d always be drinks and fuel ready for us – cookies, nuts, fruits and turkish cay (tea).

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

And then lunch on the boat and lazing around on the sunbeds. The swim was worth it for this.

From Swimtrek day 3

I should mention, that at any point during any of the swims, we were free to jump back on the boat at any time. It’s not compulsory to swim the complete distance if we’re not feeling up for it. There’s no shame in getting back on the boat and working on your tan. None at all.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

My problem with saltwater ocean swimming (and just my personal experience) is that consuming saltwater makes me bloaty, not to mention dehydrated. Saltwater consumption (not intentional, mind you) also makes me poopy in the diarrhoea sense. Swimming, in general, also makes me need to pee a lot. The pressure of the water on my bladder gets to me. I lost about 2kg over the course of this week – I was peeing, pooping, and burning calories like nobody’s business. Anyway, too much information. Moving right along. Isn’t the scenery gorgeous?

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

After lunch, we did a bit of a flat hike through Aperlae to take in some local sights. It was a holiday after all. We walked a flat trail through a sandy track surrounded by mountains. Aperlae thatta way:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

Saw some local wildlife:

From Swimtrek day 3

And rock art:

From Swimtrek day 3

Our mini-hike was rewarded with another leisure swim.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

At our destination, we reached a body of water where we had a bit of a dip. Here we got a demonstration of some drills we could do to improve our stroke and we got a bit of play swim to practice some drills. It was also an opportune moment to play with my underwater digital camera (yes, another camera to my collection) which I had bought just prior to the trip. I hadn’t taken too many underwater shots until now, so here are some fun water pics:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

SPLASH:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

Watch and learn, folks. This is how you swim:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

And this is how you relax:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

Turkey has such an amazing landscape.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

We then traipsed back to our gulet and then we went for a cruise over the Sunken City – ruins of Aperlae island. This was once an ancient city that was sunk after an earthquake hit. Turkey, like Japan, is prone to earthquakes. The only problem is that Turkey’s infrastructure isn’t built to withstand earthquakes. Just a few days after I got back from Turkey, a rather large earthquake hit the east side of the country.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

The boat had bottomglass panels so we could kind of see (not really, sort of) the island that had sunk beneath.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

You could tell just by looking at the water surface, that a city existed below the surface.

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

No afternoon swim today which was kind of nice. The 4km morning swim was enough, and it was nice to have a leisurely sightseeing afternoon. After our scenic sail, it was onwards back to Kas in the late arvo. The rest of the evenings for the week were at leisure with dinner arrangements totally up to us. I joined a handful of the others where we ate at Blue House and feasted on lots of mezze dishes and fresh seafood. And wine and beer. Liquids are important!

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

After dinner we took a stroll through the town – the first time I had been out to see the town of Kas. We windowshopped at the little boutique stores (some great shopping to be had here), and walked down Slippery Slope – which is indeed slippery. I slipped twice. I blame my thongs (of the flip-flop variety – not to be confused with some fabrically-challenged lingerie). Slippery Slope – so called, because the cobblestone ground is so smooth, and it’s quite a slope, so it’s easy to slip. Slippery Slope:

From Swimtrek day 3
From Swimtrek day 3

We got to the town square where a lot of the action is – restaurants, bars, the marina pier etc. We had ourselves some Turkish ice-cream, which is a must-try when in Turkey. Delicious flavours – chocolate and pistachio. Authentic Turkish ice cream is quite unique. Some kind of plant extract is used which makes the ice-cream somewhat chewy. It’s almost like mochi ice-cream. And before they serve it, they pound it and serve it with a long stick. Apparently they use mastic – which gives it its chewiness, and salep – a kind of flour (thickening agent) which prevents it from melting, hence they are able to churn and pound it with a long paddle (I recommend Youtubing “turkish ice cream” for a visual). Ice-cream in hand, we meandered back to our lodgings for another fitful night’s sleep. Lots of swimming and eating, was perfect inducement for sleep. I could totally get used to this life. Photo album link

Turkey travel diary: Day 4 – Swimtrek day 2

Woke up to this view, as seen from the balcony from my room.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Calm, flat waters and perfect weather. Today was the first official day of the Swimtrek tour (but I count yesterday as being day 1 – the Swimtrek arrival day). I think I was still jetlagged and woke up early. Or maybe it was out of habit considering the early starts that I had been having. There was going to be no sleep-ins this week. We had to be up early every day. I was sharing a room with a fellow female swimtrekker for the week. The tour is booked based on twin share, so I had been paired up with a roommate. You can pay extra to have your own room, but I was on a budget and didn’t want to fork out a week’s worth of single supplement, and was happy to share a room. The men however were inclined to get their own rooms. Jetlag, body clock adjustments, and the blare of the morning call to prayer from the local mosque was enough to awake me up. I was generally awake between 4am-6am everyday, but laid in bed until about 7-8am. We had to meet at 8am anyway for a compulsory pre-breakfast swim. Donned my cossies and headed down to the decks along with everyone else.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Our first ‘mini’ swim was only about 300-400m out in the bay in front of the hotel. This was a swim so the guides could assess our swim skill and speed. Based on this swim, they would put us into speed groups for the week. The hotel had its own private entry into the bay, via a ladder off the decks. The water was chilly. There was a fresh cold water spring right from the cliffs we were on. Patches of cold, patches of warm sea water. Swim completed. Breakfast on the deck. A buffet spread of fruit, bread, savouries, turkish condiments, cheese, olives, preserves, yoghurt etc. Had to restrict myself from going nuts on the buffet breakfasts so as to avoid getting bloated and drowning. A big meal, not a great idea before swimming. By about 9:30am we were all bundled up into a van and transported an hour’s drive away to Ucagiz. On the way to Ucagiz:

From Swimtrek day 2

Our swim for the day was taking place over that part of the coast. Ucagiz is a pretty little sea village.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

We boarded our “home” for the next two days – a gulet (a turkish yacht). Super nice. Seating, table, a small kitchen. a toilet, and plenty of sunbeds – all your mod cons.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

We set sail and enjoyed the water views, a little nervous about our first upcoming swim.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Day 1 and there was no mucking around. Literally, thrown into the deep end. First up, a 3.5km coastal swim! Prior to each swim, there was a ritual of lathering ourselves in suncream, and greasing up with vaseline (to prevent chafing – a common hazard swimming in saltwater). I was in the yellow-cap middle group, which was fine by me. There were six of us in that group. The orange caps were the fast group, and the pink caps were the slower group. Each group was staggered and each group was accompanied by either a swim guide or the boat captain with an escort boat. Mr swim guide A (aka the hottie) was mostly designated to our yellow group. Suffice to say that I had a wee crush on Mr A. And by “wee” I mean major. Geez, he was easy on the eyes. I may not be tall, skinny or pretty. But I ain’t blind. And I liked what I saw. He was fit (and knew it, too). Enough to make you want to drown just so he could perform mouth to mouth. Wait. I was on a swimtrek. That wasn’t going to fly. Damn. Given the fact that were indeed on a swimtrek, it meant that I got to see him wear nothing but little swim shorties all week! I could get used to this. Hehe. A little holiday crush is normal, right. Who hasn’t gone away on holidays and had a crush on their tour guide, cruise director or their ski instructor. Anyway, enough of my gushing… The first swim was magical. The water was warm, blue and clear. Relatively flat and calm as well. Very decent swimming conditions. The sea water was really salty which helped with buoyancy. Wasn’t going to drown in this water, even if I wanted to. I was as bouyant as a helium nugget. Try sinking one of those. Near impossible. We swam a tad over 3.5km. Each swim over the course of the week was always escorted. We’d stop for drink breaks during the swim where drink bottles were thrown to us from the boats, and we’d tread water, take a little drink break and then onwards to our destination. Once we had reached our end point we climbed aboard the gulet. First swim done. And I had survived. We sailed to Kekova for lunch – Kekova is the largest of the Turkish islands.

From Swimtrek day 2

The boat was anchored into a little cove, where there were some goats nearby.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

The clarity of the water was stunning. I suppose this is why this west coast of Turkey is called the Turquoise Coast, also known as the Turkish Riviera..

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Time here was spent sunbaking, getting to know each other, mingling, taking photos (maybe that was just me), and more importantly, eating.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Our skipper barbequed chicken off the back of the boat for lunch.

From Swimtrek day 2

He even tried to catch us some squid. We could see a couple of squid but they weren’t biting. Lunch was a nice spread. A veritable feast of salads, bread and chicken.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

After lunch had digested, it was time for the video shooting. We had to swim a short course, one by one, and be filmed twice – once above water and an underwater video. Our swim stroke technique (or lack thereof) would be analysed later. Here’s me with a couple of fellow swimtrekkers:

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Then it was time for our afternoon swim of 2km. I struggled a little with this swim. I had already done 3.5km in the morning. I was ready to call it a day. The afternoon was a little harder because the water was choppy and bouncy – not as flat and calm as the morning had been. Day 1 alone and we had racked up about 6km. Back on the boat and we sailed to Simena/Kalekoy – a tiny island, home to an old castle ruin.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

We had some free time to explore the castle and the views from the top, and/or some sarcophagi tombs. A handful of us chose the castle ruins (Entry – 8 Lira). We had to hike a bunch of steep stairs to reach the top of the castle. The views were absolutely worth it. But you be the judge…check out the views:

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Wow. Who knew Turkey was so beautiful. Bliss. There was even a little amphitheatre – perfect scene for a cheesy photo pose.

From Swimtrek day 2

I also loved the Turkish flag – it was everywhere! They’re a patriotic bunch. Such a simple understated flag – a moon crescent and a star. A flag as awesome as that, I’d hang up it up everywhere as well! Why wouldn’t ya!

From Swimtrek day 2

On the way back down – spotted: a cafe with an awesome name. I’ll spare you the cheesy photo pose that I took here as well. Yes, indeed a photo was taken here. How could you not?

From Swimtrek day 2

This holiday was truly turning out to be amazing. Beautiful water, stunning location, delicious food, great eye-candy. Geez,these guides had it hard. This was their “office” – not a hard life at all! Back onto the boat, and we sailed back to Ucagiz, and then a bus back to Kas. We got back to the hotel around 6:30pm and we had about an hour to shower and freshen up. It was a great first day. About 6km of swimming in one day. A group dinner had been planned for the night, so we met just before 8pm for dinner at a local restaurant where we enjoyed some wine and mezzes and some fresh Mediterranean cuisine. I could totally get used to this!

From Swimtrek day 2

Dinner – well earnt after a long swim day.

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

Some other photos: A cat sleeping in a basket on a window sill (lots of cats running around in Kas).

From Swimtrek day 2
From Swimtrek day 2

I was physically tired by the end of the first day – a combination of jet lag, sleep deprivation, sun exposure, and oh, swimming 6km! Physical exertion alone was tiring. It was a great first day of swimming. Was on a total high. Met some great, friendly people. And was totally in love with the locale. Photo album link. 5

Turkey Swimtrek travel diary: Day 3 – From Istanbul to Kas (Swimtrek arrival)

So I’m getting closer to the more exciting part of my Turkey holiday – the bit where I swimtrek – but this post isn’t going to be so interesting…well, maybe a little interesting. More interesting than today’s horoscope I reckon. Monday – was the long travelling day. A tram:

From Trip to Antalya

A train:

From Trip to Antalya

A plane:

From Trip to Antalya

A bus

From Trip to Antalya

Another bus:

From Trip to Antalya

And a taxi later, I FINALLY arrived in Kaş (pronounced ‘Kash’) – the meeting point and base point for the week-long swimtrek. So I got myself from Istanbul via tram and train back to Istanbul airport. I had a 9:30am flight departure, so again was up early. Clearly, holidays are not meant for sleeping! Grabbed myself breakfast at the airport and a Turkish tea – I love the Turkish glass tea cups!

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

I had a flight from Istanbul to Antalya. Look at all the planes at my disposal. Pick a plane, any plane…

From Trip to Antalya

The flight was only 75 minutes but they still served us meals and drinks which was super impressive for such a brief flight.

From Trip to Antalya

I flew Turkish Airways. I love their company slogan: “Globally Yours”. What an awesome sign-off.

From Trip to Antalya

The flight from Istanbul to Antalya was rather scenic.

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

Scenic joy flight over Turkey. Check. Basically, I was heading for the Mediterranean west coast of Turkey, for the Lycian Way. Kaş is not the most convenient place to get to. Your choice of the two closest airports are either Dalaman – still 2.5 hours away to Kas by bus OR Antalya 3.5 hours by bus. I went with Antalya because flights there from Istanbul were cheaper. Check out the views as we approached the Mediterranean coast – some dramatic cliff coasts.

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

Landed at Antalya airport and picked up my gun (as you do!!??). No, seriously, rest assured I had no weapons on my possession, apart from my sharp wit. lol. I love that the gun delivery and the ATMs are in the same direction. Great! Memo to self: don’t withdraw cash at that airport. Based on the sign below, I see a foolproof plan: Pick up gun. Rob ATM. Hire getaway car at the Rent-a-car desk.

From Trip to Antalya

And if a tram, train and plane wasn’t enough modes of transport for a day (and it was only 10:30am), I still had another two buses to go. I got an airport shuttle bus from the airport into Antalya Otogar (bus station). One thing I observed about Turkey are their rather giant/massive extravagant roundabouts. Every major town and city had a major roundabout that was like a mini park adorned with statues, fountains, and bells and whistles. Here was one such roundabout in Antalya:

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

As for Antalya’s bus station – I was in for a rude surprise. I was expecting to be dropped off at a building, a proper bus terminal. Instead, we pulled over on a highway onto the side of the road and I was ushered into a mini van that was waiting there. I was bundled onto the mini-van that only seated about 16 people. This was my ride for the 3.5 hour journey to Kaş.

From Trip to Antalya

It was long, winding, journey along the coast of Turkey. We made a few stops along the way for toilets, food, and dropping people off. Everything was quite rural and coastal. Random trees along the side of the road constituted as bus stops. It’s also a very mountainous region as we crossed into the Lyican Way.

From Trip to Antalya

The winding roads were so dangerously close to the water.

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

A drive around Turkey isn’t complete with some goats alongside the road:

From Trip to Antalya

And then we approached Kaş.

From Trip to Antalya
From Trip to Antalya

Destination: Kaş. One word: Idlyllic.

From Trip to Antalya

Arrived at the bus terminal in the little town centre, but I still had to get to my accommodation. Kaş is one bitch of a hilly town, and I didn’t know the area so I hopped into a taxi for the 5-minute trip to my hotel. A long day on all sorts of transport from one length of Turkey to the other. A – Istanbul B – Antalya C – Kaş It was nice to check in to our digs for the week. A seaside hotel along the Turkish mediterranean coast with water views. Gorgeous weather – around 29 degrees. I arrived here sometime just before 4pm, and had a couple of hours to refresh before our swim briefing at 6pm. Check out the hotel we stayed in for the week!

From Swimtrek arrival

And check out the views!

From Swimtrek arrival

That island you see in the photo above – is a Greek island, which is only 20 minutes away by boat!

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

A pool too, not that we ever swam in that. We are open water swimmers!

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

Kash – love at first sight. What an amazing location! Watched the sunset, ahhh bliss:

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

Water views from the dining terraces!

From Swimtrek arrival

Sundecks right over the water!

From Swimtrek arrival

I was in heaven. Surrounded by water. Watching the sun go down. Are you jealous, yet?

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

Our swimtrek group was meeting at 6pm for drinks and dinner.

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

Pomegranate mojito. Yes, please.

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

The whole point of coming to Turkey was to do this swimtrek. It’s a tour company that runs open water swimming holidays around the world. I was booked on the Lycian Way, Turkey swim and was going to be swimming 5km a day, for a week, with a bunch of like-minded people – other randoms that had also booked themselves on the tour. Breakfast, lunch and accommodation is all included, as well as boat transport and local skipper/captain, escort safety boats, and two swim guides. Just turn up and swim. You’ll need to ensure you have special insurance though that covers open water swimming (it’s considered a dangerous sport along with bungee jumping and sky diving and the like), so you’ll need a Sports Rider insurance option. Then company provides you with recommended insurance, so it’s no problem, and they provide you with a basic 3-month swim training program. Pretty much everything is all provided. BYO swimmers, goggles and towel for a week of swimming and relaxation. We were all meeting for introductory drinks and dinner and the pre-trip safety briefing. We sat down to a meal, a glass of wine, and did all the introductions. There were 13 of us in total and our two guides. Most of the people were British – the swimtrek company is a UK group. There was an older American couple, a Belgium man, two English men, seven English women, and my-Australian-self. About half of us had come alone. Three of the women had come together as friends and colleagues (they were nurses), another two women had come as friends, and the American couple had obviously come together as well. The other half of us, had just come on our own. This was the second swimtrek for one of the guys. And for one other guy, this was his 8th swimtrek!!! Impressive. Clearly, he was addicted! He did one swimtrek at least once a year, and had already done most of the destinations available. Everyone seemed really friendly and nice, and down to earth. There were only three men and 10 of us girls. Ages ranged from 28-57 (I thought I was the youngest one there all week, but found out that one of the girls was younger) and we came in all shapes and sizes. It wasn’t so intimidating. I was little worried that everyone would be super hardcore swimmers and triathletes – because really, what kind of people sign up for a holiday where all you do is swim in the rough, wild ocean! That didn’t stop me from feeling as though I was still a little underprepared. I barely clock up 5km in a week, let alone a single day, and repeat that for a whole week. But I had nothing to fear (except perhaps jellyfish). Our swim guides were cool too – a young Aussie guy (around my age) and a UK guy (somewhat a little older, although by no means old). Both very fit looking. And good-looking too! (More on that later…lol) We went through safety, procedural stuff – about the hazards we could expect – sun protection, chafing, jellyfish stings etc.

From Swimtrek arrival
From Swimtrek arrival

It was gonna be a great week! I was so excited and buzzing and ready to swim in paradise. The next 6 days of blog posts are going to be awesome, so clear your reading calendar. You can read Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ later. Prepare to Get Jealous!

Swimmer’s block

I hadn’t swum in over week, which is a little bit of a record for me, because I always swim at least, at a minimum – once a week. Today, after doing a 2km swim this morning, I remembered why I had taken a break from swimming….shoulder pain.

In just a few weeks, I will be swimming around Turkey – a 30-35km swim over 6 days. On average swimming 5-6km a day. I should be training more, me thinks. But with all the swimming I had been doing over the summer, my upper shoulders and upper back/neck are getting sore. Subconsciously I had stopped swimming for about 10 days to give my shoulders a break. I’ve also taken up jogging as well, which meant that I had swapped the pool for the treadmill. I am actually getting into the jogging a bit now … even bought myself new jogging shoes! I’m in need of swimming motivation considering I had slacked off a bit. I’m also getting worried about the swimtrek. I feel underprepared to swim that much, day in, day out. The thought of sore shoulders and back is a little unnerving. Swimming laps in a pool also gets a little boring.

Last night I came across an awesome blog of a gal who a few months back did a swimtrek. Hers wasn’t so much a holiday as it was a swim bootcamp. She had signed up for the Gozo (Malta swimtrek) – this swimtrek is a swim camp used mainly by those who want to swim the English Channel. It’s a full-on long distance ows swim camp, working up to a 6-hour swim. (My limit is 2-hours). It’s a really interesting read of the training and mental endurance of open water swimming training in cold water (15 degrees). I highly recommend reading her three entries on her swimtrek. Start reading from here. And work your way to post 3 of her Malta swimtrek. Her last post is the most inspiring and motivating. Her blog gets brownie points because she makes reference to Haruki Murakami. It was a re-quote from someone else, but I’m pretty sure that Murakami said that in this book, “What I talk about when I talk about running”. (Murakami is a prolific marathoner). One of the quotes that always stuck out in that book for me was: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. (I think it was also a re-quote from someone else as well). But after reading that book – that quote always stuck in my mind. I think I should re-read that book. Good motivation for mental endurance and perserverance, especially since I’m also hoping to get accepted into the Tokyo Marathon. It was a good insight into what I can expect…although not as full on as that. It will be a similar routine. Up early, breakfast and then hitting the water everyday, swim for a couple of hours, lunch, swim a few more km’s, dinner, a couple of sessions on technique and swim analysis, and then sleep. Thankfully, it’s also a holiday, and not a race, and not a swim bootcamp, so hopefully it will be a little more leisurely.

After reading that last night, I thought it was time for me to HTFU. So even though I desperately wanted to sleep in longer this morning, I changed into my cossies, got onto the train, jumped into the pool and swam 2km. The first 1km was easy enough. Felt good to be back in the water especially having not swum for a while. Between 1-1.5km my shoulders started to get sore. My lower neck, upper back and shoulders are getting really tight and sore though. It doesn’t help that I sit in front of a computer all day at work either. I think I’m gonna need some deep tissue massaging. In my last ows race (the 4.5km one) I remember my arms being incredibly sore, especially around the 3km mark. To the point where I could barely get the, out of the water and they were just pretty much skimming the top of the water, floundering. Should I be pumping iron? Do I have weak arms? I think sore shoulders and arms is normal? The recommended swimming training program provided by Swimtrek seems pretty relaxed to me. Maybe, I am swimming too much. When you also eat as much as I do, there’s no such thing as “swimming too much”. I went back over the swimming training program – which spans 3 months in the lead up to the actual swim.

I leave in 3 weeks, and I feel as though I haven’t done enough training, despite being on track with the program. I barely swim 5km a week, let alone 5km a day for a whole week! They recommend a certain distance per week = target km. I have then recorded my actual distance swum for that week.

Month 1/July

Week 1: Target: 1km Actual: 10km (includes 3km OWS race, plus additional training km’s)

Week 2: Target: 1.5km Actual: 10.6 km (This was the week I competed in the 4.5km ows race, plus additional training km’s)

Week 3: Target: 2km Actual: 1.5km (this was my recovery week after two back to back weekends of ows races)

Week 4: Target: 2km Actual: 1km

Week 5: No target. Actual: 1.7km

Month 2/August

Week 1: Target: 2.5km Actual: 4.1km

Week 2: Target: 3km Actual: 5km

Week 3: Target: 3.5km Actual: 3km (did more cross training instead of swimming – 3 jogging sessions)

Week 4: Target: 4km Actual: 3.5km (lazy week. No jogging either)

Month 1/September

Week 1: Target: 4km Actual: 1km swim (but 3 jogging sessions)

Week 2: in progress Target: 5km Actual (so far): 2km ….but the week ain’t over yet.

Here’s what I need to cover over the next 2-3 weeks…

Week 3: Target: 5km

Week 4: Target: 3km Moral of the story. No pain. No gain. And must find good masseur.  I also need to fit in another open water swim session (instead of laps in a chlorine box), so I signed up for another race (my last one for the summer) which is in a week and a half away, and I’ve not done much training for it. It’s a 3.84km open water swim race. If you’re thinking 3.84km is a weird distance, it’s because I will be swimming the length of a bay somewhere in Chiba prefecture, and apparently that’s how long the bay is.