What an amazing 7 days it’s been since I started my challenge to run 2200km from Hanoi to HCMC. In reality, it’s going to be more than the 2200km I initially calculated as I’ve spent a lot of time dodging muddy puddles and using smaller countryside roads to avoid using the highways as much as possible. So far I have covered 146km.
This has meant that my first week on the road has been full of incredible people. I’ve lost count of the number of lifts on the back of motorbikes that I’ve been offered. I promise ive said no, even though it’s been tempting! Everywhere I go, from tiny road side drinks shacks to hotels to farmland I’ve been waved down by people wanting to know what I’m doing. Their reactions have always been the same. Total shock and confusion but then an expression of happiness and thanks for my mission. As my Vietnamese is woeful, a lot of these conversations have been through Google translate and showing my website. Which the talented Jay Nguyen of BIS HCMC designed and translated for me! Although I have learned that the Vietnamese for run is ‘chay’ and am now using it continuously whilst pointing at my legs!
If I were to take one thing from this week, it would definitely be the kindness of strangers. They have helped me cross rivers where ferries no longer exist, they have handed me cold drinks, taken me into their homes and donated massage fees to my cause. When travelling I have often found that people get cynical and think that everyone is out to make money from them, while in some more touristy areas, this may be true, I have found the total opposite. I am blown away by the support I have received from strangers, who themselves are not necessarily ‘rich’ but are willing to offer what they have and most importantly an enormous smile.
I have spent the last 2 days resting in beautiful Tam Coc, the area where the film ‘King Kong’ was filmed. I’ve cycled along tiny paths whilst being dwarfed by huge rock formations. They call Tam Coc, the inland Halong Bay and I can see why. I’ve been on a stunning boat trip along the river to see the formations from the water. It’s been a great blast of expat/traveller reality and I’ve eaten more than my fair share of pizza, burittos and cake. However, I am excited to hit the road again tomorrow for more random adventures. My body and mind are both in good shape and I’m literally running towards my first running visitor. I cannot wait for Guy Dormer to experience this with me!
My main fear on this trip is loneliness, so far it has yet to hit me. Although I’m absolutely sure it will find me. I’m finding social media is like a job and really appreciate the amount of support I’m recieving from friends, family and strangers. I’m also so glad I packed my kindle, it’s full of book recommendations from people interested in the run and I can’t wait to read them all. The ‘Namrunsnam’ Spotify playlist has also helped when the runs have been tough. Remember, if you donate you can add as any songs you like and I promise not to skip any!
Thank you for reading and please donate as little or as much as you can. It will make a huge difference to the lives of children here in Vietnam.