Thermal Bath. Minor Paragliding Accident in Olüdeniz

There is one advantage of staying in a Thermal Bath hotel. You have the thermal bath right inside your room.  The hotel staff showed me how to use it when I checked in with the newlywed last night. Of course, they stayed in a separate room.  😀 But I didn’t try it in my own room. Ok, I am obsessed with cleanliness so I didn’t feel comfortable using the bathtub. I went down to the thermal centre in the common area in the morning though. It was just like a swimming pool but the water was hot and healing.

I soaked myself in the thermal pool.

It felt soooo good!

Now, I was very relaxed!!

I was thinking of doing a massage but I didn’t need to after using the thermal pool and the jacuzzi there. 😜

We packed our stuff after breakfast and headed to Olüdeniz.

I was so relaxed that I slept in the car and snored!!:D I don’t snore normally. 😀

It was a long drive. We arrived at Olüdeniz and the newlywed dropped me off somewhere close to my hotel and said goodbye. They couldn’t wait to drop me off. 😀 Ok. I understand. I shouldn’t be their third wheel any longer. 😜

I went to the beach and looked for my paragliding group. They were having late lunch or something. I found that all my lunch or dinner hours had been very different from my normal routine. 😀 That’s traveling. I had skipped lunch since I arrived in Istanbul. Not that I had big breakfast, it’s just that I had been too busy touring around. 😀  Speaking of breakfast, the breakfast I had in the thermal bath hotel this morning was very sumptuous!  But I had to agree with my friend – she said the breakfast at her cousin-in-law’s place was more sumptuous than the hotel. I’d add, more delicious too. 😊  

I ordered potted mushrooms and fresh juice at the place where the paragliding group had their lunch. The price in Olüdeniz was so high! It was 3 or 4 times higher than those places I had been to in Turkey, including Istanbul. Can you believe it?  And this place was so touristy too. Lira was very low, so prices here in this touristy area still were quite low. The business people here knew it too, apparently.

Olüdeniz reminded me of Seychelles. (I will write about Seychelles later) The beach, the shops selling souvenirs, the party at night… but it was busier than Seychelles. Olüdeniz is also a famous paragliding spot. That’s why we were here. 

Harrods in Turkey? Hang on, take a closer look. It’s Harrools!  😀  Olüdeniz at night.

As I said, I didn’t intend to do solo paragliding. The group did some other activities too when they were not paragliding so I joined them. I decided to pay for a tandem paragliding.

In retrospect, I spent way too long in Olüdeniz. I should have just stayed there for a maximum of 3 days and then headed to other places in Turkey as I wouldn’t do any solo paragliding. Everything was way too expensive there. It wasn’t really worth it. I missed Cappadocia now. But as we backpackers like to say, ‘you have to leave some for your next visit.’ That’s the idea. 😊

I took a stroll along the beach and planned my itinerary.  As I was walking along the beach, I heard someone call my name. This time, unlike those moments in other countries like in Georgia, I knew who that could be. 

It was one of my paragliding mates who was having dinner at one of the restaurants along the beach.  She was enjoying her meal by herself.  She said my blue hat caught her eyes.  She was thinking how ugly that hat was.  😀  It turned out I was the owner of that hat.  ‘Please don’t wear it again!’ she begged me.  😀  That was so funny. I explained to her that I was desperate to buy a hat that could protect me more from the strong sun and this was the only option I had back then.  ‘I’d rather not buy it.’ She said.  It’s ok.  She’s not a mean person but she’s very straight forward and you know she didn’t say it out of a bad intention.  I don’t mind people who are like this. This is much better than the hypocrites.

She invited me to have dinner with her. I gladly joined her.

Paragliding is a popular sport in Olüdeniz.

My paragliding mate had a minor accident from her paragliding attempt this morning.  After she took off, somehow, the wind changed the direction (or something. I can’t recall the details). Remember, it was 2,000 metres high. She saw it coming. While she was being blown by the wind towards the mountain, she stretched out her leg and kicked the face of the mountain. Despite her effort, her entire left side still hit the mountain. Other local Turkish paragliding pilots rushed to help her and examined her injuries. She had bruises and scratches on her left arm and leg. No broken bones. It was only a minor injury. She was very fortunate. 

It wasn’t her first time to have accidents like this. In one of her flights in Taiwan, the weather suddenly changed. The truth was she actually wasn’t really ready to take off but somehow she was told to take off – meaning, her speed bar wasn’t tied to the wings, her radio was not on, etc. There was a miscommunication, she later told me.

As she was flying, the dark clouds started to accumulate around her.  At first, she was still visible to us. The coach in Taiwan kept instructing her on the radio to fly down and land as quickly as possible and avoid the clouds but when we looked at her from the ground, it looked as if she couldn’t hear a thing.  The coach kept screaming at the radio. 

All of us were dead quiet.

I could almost hear the echo of the coach on the mountain.

Then the dark clouds started to swallow her. 

She wasn’t visible to us anymore.

We were very worried. 

Anything could happen inside the clouds.

My other classmate and I were actually getting ready to take off after her but because of the change in the weather, wind direction, clouds, we didn’t take off.  Now, we were standing there, stiff, with all our heavy gear on but we totally forgot about it as we all focused on her and her safety. We could only look up to the sky and watch her and the growing clouds that continued to envelop her.  

It was a very tense moment. 

Nobody knew what else we could do.

She was a few hundred metres away from the take off zone, i.e. the top of the mountain which was around 300 metres above the ground level which also was where we were standing.

We waited.

Nobody spoke.

We kept looking up to the sky to try to trace her and her wing.

The coach was so worried.

He stood still looking up to the sky and then paced up and down.

He screamed at the radio but we still didn’t see any trace of her nor her wing.

After a long while, we finally saw her emerging between the clouds but she was in the opposite direction of the landing zone. The coach from Taiwan screamed to her again on the radio, ‘don’t fly towards there! Come back!’

It was another tense moment.

If she continued in that direction, she’d be blown even further away from us and the landing zone and she’d be in a dangerous area. An area where we may never be able to find her…

After a long struggle, she finally flew out of the thick clouds and flew towards the brighter and calmer sky and eventually landed on the landing zone.

‘You deserve a P2 licence.’ I said to her at dinner. I honestly admire her. She’s like my role model, still.

‘YES! Of course! I’d feel ashamed of myself if I didn’t.’ She answered. She later got her P3 licence which is more advanced than P2.

As a paragliding pilot, you need to have very good judgement and you need to be very calm and very decisive. One decision will lead you to either a safe landing or an injury or sometimes even death.

Isn’t it just like life?

One decision, regardless of how small or big that is, will lead us to another destination in life.

13 August 2018

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