Wow, what an absolute stunner of a week! I’ve been treated to some of the most beautiful scenery of the journey so far as well as the worst accomodation and night’s sleep yet!
After waving goodbye to Jude and Fiorella, who joined me last Sunday. I jogged on southwards along the coastline towards Tam Thanh. I had been told this was a beautiful fishing village and it did not disappoint! From what I understand, the tiny, rural village of Tam Thanh, has become the focus of a Vietnamese and Korean university art collaboration project. The art students are paired with a local fishing family and are tasked with designing and painting a mural that respresents the family on their house. I spent the afternoon wandering the quiet streets, waving at locals, eating loads of street food and listening to the waves crashing onto the pristine beach.
The following morning, I continued to follow the coastline through tranquil local villages where the main mode of transportation is old fashioned, wobbly bicycles. Suddenly, a flash of green lycra whizzed by, with shouts of “hello”, tinged with a European accent. As I rounded the next corner, a group of 6 German cyclists had stopped and were waving me over. We chatted about our adventures whilst eating bananas and rice crackers. They had started their challenge to ride from Hoi An to Siem Reap (in Cambodia) that very morning. After stuffing my backpack full of supplies we wished each other well and continued on our journeys. Yet another random meeting with kind and like-minded strangers.
I continued along dusty backroads until I reached a river, where I jumped onboard a tiny boat that would take me across to Tam Hai Island.
The people of Tam Hai are possibly the friendliest I’ve encountered this whole trip and that’s saying a lot as people have been wonderful throughout! On the 5km stretch of pathways that cross the island I was waved over countless times and enjoyed numerous drinks and dragon fruits with the locals, who all refused to take any money. My payment appeared to be in selfies!
The most wonderful day soon plummeted into my worst night of the trip! After leaving Tam Hai, I entered another industrial zone and started to look for accomodation. The first two places Google Maps directed me to were no longer there, so I continued on my quest for a bed for the night. Eventually, I found a run down, cheap hotel. I was welcomed by very friendly ladies in tight clothes and bright red lipstick. They showed me to my dark and dingy room, charged me 4 quid (cheapest room so far) and bid me a goodnight. All was well until around 11pm when the door to my room, which had a broken lock, swung open. My suspicions about the ladies line of work were confirmed as the lady who had shown me to my room, grabbed the guy and directed him out of my room and further up the corridor. With shouts of “Xin Loi” (sorry) from both the punter and the working lady. Feeling slightly vunerable, for the first time on this whole trip, I created an ingenious door block and lock.
After a noisy and pretty sleepless night, I was up and back on road by 6.30am! I headed to the port town of Sa Ky which took me over to the volcanic island of Ly Son. Due to my early start, I was on the island before midday. I checked into a beautiful, non brothel hotel and hired a scooter to explore the island. I followed mountainous roads up to the summit of the extinct volcanoes and drove through field after field of garlic plants. Garlic being the main export of Ly Son. I was definitely the only tourist on the island and found myself with a friendly audience wherever I went.
As the weekend approached, I received a message from Dzung, a keen Vietnamese runner who lives in Quang Ngai. He explained that he and his running club friends wanted to take me out for dinner when I reached the city and run with me when I left. Dzung, suggested a route into the city from where I was, promising that it would be a beautiful run. He was not wrong! The run into Quang Ngai followed the river which had bamboo bridges crossing onto island outcrops, the sun was shining, the paddy fields were a vibrant green and my mood was super high!
On reaching the city, I checked into the hotel that Dzung had recommended and headed out to meet the runners for dinner. We had a lovely evening at a riverside restaurant drinking a few beers, eating delicious seafood and chatting about our many running adventures.
Saturday was a rest day and as I sat in a cafe drinking a strong coffee and reading my book, I received a message from Chris and Gabs, my around the world cycling buddies. I’d waved them off after our run out of Hoi An, where they were spending New Year’s Eve. (I’d spent mine in creepy, beach resort where I was the only guest!) They had covered my weekly distance in less than 2 days and were rolling into Quang Ngai. Fast forward a few hours and we were back on the riverside drinking a fair few beers, eating more great food and chatting about adventures!
At midnight we waved goodnight and wished each other well for the rest of our journeys, as our paths would probably not cross again. My alarm woke me and my blurry head at 8am this morning and I headed out to meet my new found running friends. My legs felt strong after all the great food and protein over the last few days and the 24kms flew past in a blissful blur of countryside and running chat. Just as we were coming to the end of our run we heard beeps of horns and laughter, it was none other than Chris and Gabs! One final picture and we waved each other off again. Im now pretty sure it probably won’t be the last time!
It makes such a difference to have people joining me on this challenge and I am really grateful to everyone for making the effort. At the end of the run we ate a much needed, delicious Banh Mi, exchanged high 5s and they jumped in a car back towards Quang Ngai. I’m writing this blog from the patio of another lovely cheap hotel, over looking mountains and paddy fields and feeling blissfully happy!
As always, thank you so much for spending your time reading about my crazy adventures. If this inspires you/makes you want to attempt a new year challenge, please sign up to run with me! (I promise I am slower than you) The link is at the top of my website http://www.namrunsnam.com
Please donate as little or as much as you can to change the lives of women and children in this wonderful country. 100% of all donations go directly to where it is needed.
Naomi (aka Nam)