Tag Archives: ocean

Over Ölüdeniz

The harbor in Fethiye.
The harbor in Fethiye.

There’s no doubt that the Turquoise Coast was one of the most beautiful places I visited in Turkey. Whether the vantage point was from the deck of a boat, from within the water itself, or from the hilltop ruins of Simena, the Turquoise Coast was drop-dead gorgeous…but in my book, nothing beats a bird’s-eye view. I’m a sucker for heights and the views they provide. Tall buildings and mountains are all well and good…but if I have an opportunity to get literally up in the air, you can bet that I’m going to take it.

Aside from our time spent sailing around Kekova, our other stop on the Turquoise Coast was the seaside resort town of Ölüdeniz, located in the Fethiye region on the Mediterranean. Ölüdeniz is especially popular for British holiday-goers, to the point that many of the seaside cafés and restaurants advertise traditional Sunday roasts in the hopes of luring in some homesick travelers. (Though why you’d go for that over a kebab or some Turkish ice cream, I’m not sure…)

Ölüdeniz's Blue Lagoon
Ölüdeniz’s Blue Lagoon

Ölüdeniz is a pretty photogenic place, what with all that pristine white sand and cerulean water, but the feature photographed the most is definitely the aptly named Blue Lagoon. Sheltered from the open sea by a long, thin spit of land, the lagoon’s tranquil water makes it a popular place for sun-worshippers and swimmers alike. Its picture-perfect quality draws the crowds like no other, though. The glassy water might be serene, but the hoards of splashing swimmers and screeching children aren’t exactly a good complement.

Enter in the other thing that Ölüdeniz is famous for: paragliding.

I’d gone paragliding the previous winter in Pokhara in Nepal, and I’d loved every dizzying, euphoric minute of it…so there was never a question in my mind that I’d be getting up in the air again. Ölüdeniz’s open skies were calling my name, and I wasn’t about to ignore them.

En route to the peak of Badabag
En route to the peak of Badabag

On our second day in Fethiye, I (and a few others…my enthusiasm ended up proving contagious) woke up bright and early for a 6:30 takeoff. I’m a pretty chipper morning person in general, but a 5:00 a.m. wake-up is a lot more enjoyable when you know you’re doing it to jump off a cliff with nothing but a piece of cloth to keep you alive and kicking. (Or maybe that’s just me? Self-preservation isn’t always my strong suit.)

Heights don’t really scare me – I find them more thrilling than anything – but I have no shame in admitting that the van ride to the top of Badabag, the 1700 meter hill overlooking Ölüdeniz, was probably the scariest half-hour of my life. The “road” is all loose rocks, and when you’re whipping around corners with not even a guardrail between you and a sheer drop to a fiery death, it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit nervous. I had to consciously tell myself, “This guy drives up here every day. He knows this road. You’re not going to die. You will not die.”

Prepping for takeoff.
Prepping for takeoff.
It was a good morning to jump off a mountain.
It was a good morning to jump off a mountain.
Suited up.
Suited up.

And obviously, I didn’t. It’s a good thing, too, because I wouldn’t have wanted to kick the bucket without seeing the Turquoise Coast from the air. Once my pilot had strapped us into our harness, I was all too happy to run full tilt at the edge of the mountain, all too gleeful to feel the ground drop away from my feet and the wind to catch our chute.

Thanks to a steady updraft of air, paragliders around Ölüdeniz can reach altitudes of just over three thousand (!) meters. Even for me, that’s pretty high. Usually, the skies are full of the wheeling, colorful chutes, but since we had the very first flight of the day, we had the air to ourselves. Flight like that, with nothing but some fabric, ropes, and air keeping you aloft, is one of my favorite feelings in the world.

Up, up, and away.
Up, up, and away.

It’s not all serene, though…because what’s the point of flying if you can’t get an adrenaline rush while doing it? When my pilot found out that I’d been paragliding before, he asked if I wanted the “extreme” acrobatic treatment, and I gave one of the most emphatic affirmations of my life. “Extreme” definitely summed up the corkscrews, barrel rolls, and wild, wheeling spins that he whipped us through.

The Turquoise Coast, living up to its name.
The Turquoise Coast, living up to its name.

By the time we landed down on Ölüdeniz’ white sand beach, my stomach felt like it had been twisted into a pretzel, and my sense of balance was completely shot. I didn’t much mind that momentary dizziness, though. I’d have put up with a thousand pretzel-stomachs and miles of giddy, wobbly steps in exchange for getting a bird’s-eye view of the Turquoise Coast and the Blue Lagoon.

watermarkedIMG_4138

Southern Sailing off Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

I miss the sunshine.
I miss Turkey’s sunshine.

It’s a dreary and rainy autumn day in northern Japan. Rain, snow, and even hail has fallen intermittently all day, and the chilly wind and clouds, cinereous and heavy with rain, have only reinforced the fact that winter is coming. And as much as I love the grey, cold weather – perfect for readings piles of books, drinking endless mugs of coffee, and burrowing under my cozy kotatsu – I can’t help but dream of the sunny days and blue waters I saw in Turkey this summer.

The Turquoise Coast
The Turquoise Coast

Continue reading Southern Sailing off Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

The Cliffs of Hotokegaura

The craggy white cliffs of Hotokegaura in Aomori
The craggy white cliffs of Hotokegaura in Aomori

Even though I’ve lived here for nearly three full years now, Aomori still manages to surprise me in the best possible ways. There’s always some naturally gorgeous spot to stumble upon for the first time and make me fall in love with Aomori all over again.

See Exhibit A: the cliffs of Hotokegaura (仏ヶ浦), which now reign supreme as my absolute favorite place in Aomori.

Sapphire water, white stone, and verdant trees set the scene.
Sapphire water, white stone, and verdant trees set the scene.

Continue reading The Cliffs of Hotokegaura

Throwback Thursday – Lamma Island

Lamma Island in Hong Kong is one of my absolute favorite spots that I’ve visited on my travels. I know that it seems like I say that about every place I been, but if you asked me right now where I’d want to retire and lounge for the rest of my days, it’d be a difficult choice between Lamma Island and Kuta on Lombok.

The harbor of Yung Shue Wan
The harbor of Yung Shue Wan

A bare half-hour ferry ride away from the hustling, bustling chaos that is the main metropolis of Hong Kong, Lamma is a tiny little island where a far simpler way of life reigns supreme. Aside from a few ATVs that are used to haul around supplies, there are absolutely no motorized vehicles. In addition, none of the buildings are allowed to have more than seven hundred square feet per floor. To put it lightly, the people of Lamma aren’t yearning for the city life. Continue reading Throwback Thursday – Lamma Island

Kuta: Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Food Poisoning”

Kuta, a tiny town on the southeast coast of Lombok, was the last stop on my Indonesian getaway. Kuta’s famous as a surfer’s haven, and there are tons of tiny beaches whose beauty is matched only by their world-class reef breaks. Incidentally, there’s also a Kuta on Bali. It’s also famous for surfing, but the similarities stop there. Bali’s Kuta is overloaded with tourists. Lombok’s Kuta, by comparison, still retains the charm of a tiny seaside town where traditional life still reigns.

Standard Asian street food...fish on a stick.
Standard Asian street food…fish on a stick.

With my (total lack of) balance, surfing is definitely beyond my skill set, so I felt a bit left out among all the tanned surfers zooming around the town with boards strapped to racks on their motorbikes and SUVs. There was still plenty for me to enjoy, though. Continue reading Kuta: Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Food Poisoning”

Gili Meno: Unreal Views and Postcard Blues

Once my few days in Senggigi were up, I headed up north to Gili Meno, a tiny island off the western coast of Lombok. There are actually three Gilis: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. (Calling them the Gili Islands is technically a bit of a misnomer, since “Gili” means “island.”) Collectively, they’re famous for their amazingly white sand and crystal-clear blue water, but each also have a distinctly separate atmosphere. Air is the most traditional and least visited. Meno is the smallest, least populated, and arguably most beautiful. Trawangan is the party island, with tons of bars, parties, and clubs.

On the boat from Lombok to Gili Meno.
On the boat from Lombok to Gili Meno.

Continue reading Gili Meno: Unreal Views and Postcard Blues

Senggigi, Lombok: Spices, Sunsets, and Sarongs

It’s funny how you can be totally set on a plan for months on end, only to have it flipped on its head in the space of an hour or two. Such was the case two months ago. For the better part of a year, I’d not planned on going on any vacations until I headed off to India and Nepal for the 2013 winter holidays. And that plan stuck in place…until my traveler’s feet got itchy. (Incidentally, that saying has always made me wince a bit. It makes it sound like some sort of foot fungus causes wanderlust.)

One day in July, I glanced at my work calendar, and saw two consecutive three-day weekends in September that meant I could take four days of paid leave and get ten days off. Cue a few hours of gleefully frenetic Googling, Orbitz-ing, and WikiTravel-ing, and I was set on spending a week on the gorgeous island of Lombok, Indonesia. Continue reading Senggigi, Lombok: Spices, Sunsets, and Sarongs