Typhoons, Taiwanese BBQ, and of course a three kilometer swim across Sun Moon Lake is what I call a small adventure. If you don’t know much about Taiwan, you may not realize that when events happen there is always a chance of typhoons, sitting and eating, and hoping for a cool adventure the next day.
The Sun Mood Lake Swim:
Every year, at Sun Moon Lake, in Taiwan, there is a big swim. 22,000 people this year decided to go and swim across Sun Moon Lake. It is about 3.3 kilometers from the one side to the other. The crowds came in the night before to get ready with people everywhere with the intentions of taking on this special feat.
Our Adventure for the Swim:
Our adventure starts off as any adventure would….starting off late. We meant to leave Taiwan at 2-3 p.m, and we left closer to 3:30 p.m. Heading off to friend’s cousins place right by the bus stop that would take us to the epic swim. On our drive to Sun Moon Lake we missed two turns making our 2.5 hour drive into a 4 hour drive. Our hosts waited paitiently ready to cook up some Taiwanese BBQ.
If you are not familiar with Taiwanese BBQ, it is basically just cooking on the grill with all sorts of meats. We are talking, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, clams, and quite possibly squid. There are various types of skewers. Mushrooms, corn, and any other vegetable is also thrown on the the grill. The drinks happen to be Taiwan beer with each person having a tiny glass so you can cheers drink it all in one sip. Yes, we took part in this Taiwanese BBQ, and quite frankly, it took to long to cook the food. From 7-10, we were cooking. I and most of the others on our trip decided to sleep, but the BBQ kept going into the wee hours of the night.
The Morning of the Swim:
As expected, we were off to swim. Our heat and registration time was from 6 a.m-7 a.m. We would start the swim at 7 a.m. for about 2-3 hours and be done. We would then enjoy a lunchbox, a towel, some water, and get shirt. This is what was expected. As the buses kept driving past our most crowded bus stop we worried as the time had reached 6:20 a.m. Only our prayers could help us find a ride to our destination. As I had said, prayer answered, a bus stopped only picking up four people. We had five, but our lawyer friend, Wayne Chen, discussed that we could stand. We eventually made it on the bus ready to set part.
For each contestant, they need to have a couple of items to swim. First, we needed a lifeguard red float that each participant needs to have on them as they swim. It is a precautionary thing to help those that cannot swim as well to still float as the go across the lake. The next is the swim cap that each member will receive at the beginning of the swim. We each had one of those items. Now some of us (me especially) had long sleeves or swim shorts to help keep the heat in. You never know how cold the water will be. Due to the Typhoon that was hitting the Phillipines, a heat wave was blown to Taiwan causing the temperature of the water to be whopping 22 degrees Celcius. Not so bad for a lake swim.
The One that was not left behind:
One of our adventure companions, Dory, was not as confident in her swimming abilities as the rest of us. She was wise and chose me as the person she would connect her lifejacket to and have a personal swimmer guide her along the way. I have to admit it was not easy, but it was worth it bringing her 85% of the way across the lake. Dory finished the last 200 meters by herself, and Wayne our other friend had guided her for a good ten minutes in the middle as I took a slight rest. We pressed on all the way to finish the race in about 2 hours time. It was an amazing feat.
Looking and seeing 22,000 people come across the water is an amazing site. You see a sight of yellow caps and red floats. There were people that created floating bars, and brought inflatable beer holders. There were bunches of people just connected to one another as they floated across. The side barges/floating docks supplied tired individuals with rest, chocolate, and water. This was something that not everyone says they have done.
If you are in Taiwan for a long period of time, you too should one day take the plunge. It is a story and an experience that will be forever with you.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”