I’m absolutely delighted to be back on the road! After almost 4 weeks of recovery and no running/exercise at all, it’s such a relief to be restarting my challenge.
After an inspiring week volunteering at Blue Dragon, I flew to Australia to go to a friend’s wedding. This trip was pre planned but timed in perfectly with my recovery. Without the trip, I think I would have hit the road again too early and probably have done more damage. The Aussie trip was especially amazing as I got to hang out with my very understanding and supportive parents for 10 days. We were tourists in Sydney (where dad smashed his fear of heights by climbing the harbour bridge with mum), hiked in the Blue Mountains (this helped to keep some of my quickly dwindling fitness), chilled out in the vineyards of Orange, watched my oldest friend Adam marry the lovely Penny and played beach games in the sand at Nelson Bay. I also talked endlessly about my challenge and raised some money too!
After a gruelling 36 hour journey back from Aussie (Nelson bay- Sydney- KL- Hanoi- Vinh) I decided that I wanted to get straight back on the road. So jumped on a bus from the airport and headed back to my last running point, which was about 20km up the highway north of Vinh. The bus driver was very confused when I jumped off at a truck stop next to the highway. I ran a slow, noisy 10km before finding a highway hotel before the sun went down.
I only had one full day back on the road before my friend Ellie flew in for the weekend. (Ellie is the inventor of the ‘Race to Saigon’ game- let me know if you would like to purchase a copy!) Her visit couldn’t have been better timed as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and massively unfit! I arrived in Vinh mid afternoon on Friday and Ellie joined me around 7.30pm. We caught up over a few street beers and planned our route for the next few days.
And what a great route it was! After battling our way out of Vinh city, we soon hit quiet roads and beautiful countryside. It was apparent that this side of Nghe An Province was more affluent than where I had previously been running, just a few Kms north of Vinh. We were able to find coffee shops, drink stops and food opportunities along the way (I was finding any excuse for a rest as I’d apparently lost my fitness somewhere along the highway!)
After refuelling at lunch, with a huge portion of fish caught from just outside the restaurant, we journeyed on hugging the coastline. After 20kms we began searching for accomodation for the night. We located a hotel on Google maps and made our way there. No hotel. We found a second option on the map. No hotel. After three failed attempts and 24kms covered we decided to head back to where we had had lunch as there were a few hotels in that area. A friendly cafe owner organised his friend to drive us back to where we had been a few hours previous. It is definately low season in this part of Vietnam as we seemed to be the only guests in the place.
We awoke early, on our rock hard mattresses, ready for another day on the road. As we had covered more Kms than planned on the previous day we knew we didn’t have to rush too much to cover the 18kms to my hotel for the night and where Ellie would jump in a cab and head back to Vinh to catch her flight back to Saigon. After a few Kms of very sweaty running, we found a coffee shop and ordered double drinks (cafe su das and orange juices). We were invited to join a group of friends who were enjoying their Sunday day off. A few of the guys had worked abroad and were proud to discuss their experiences. Ellie experienced a “kindness of strangers” moment, as we tried to pay our bill, only to be told that it was being covered by one of the men at the table. It really is the overarching theme of my trip.
The remainder of our journey was full of breath taking lush, green mountains, turquoise seas and herds of buffalo. We chatted and reflected on how lucky we are as the Kms ticked away.
Roughly 3km from our final stop, we came across a vast resort in the middle of nowhere. We wandered in for a drink and found we were the only people on the huge site. We enjoyed our overpriced drinks on a terrace overlooking a beautiful pool and private beach. Next to the complex was a massive waterpark, it looked like lots of fun but was definately closed for low season.
Fortunately, the hotel we were aiming for was open and I checked in for the night. After a quick shower, Ellie jumped in a cab and headed to the airport. I wandered off in search of food and reflected on a perfect weekend, whilst drinking an ice cold beer and eating fresh fish, veges and lots of rice! I only have five days before my next guests, Sarah and Ian, arrive!
Thank you so much for reading. If you would like to join me please sign up on the Google doc, that is linked to this website. If you don’t want to run, then come and join me for a walk or a rest day! If none of that appeals, please donate as little or as much as you can. It will make a huge difference to the lives of many.
Lots of love
Naomi (aka Nam)