The week started with Emily, Greg and myself waving goodbye to the luxury of The Crown Retreat Resort. It had been a delightful and restful treat but I was ready to get back on the road and cover some miles with my friends. We jumped in a taxi back to where I had last run, Life’s a Beach Backpackers. During my time in Quy Nhon, I had been warned that this was a party hostel, however as we were running the next day, we planned on an early night… BUT after telling the bar staff about our running mission, we were handed free drinks. Fast forward to 3am and we are drinking our 10th (ish) cheap pirate rum cocktails and playing smash ball for free shots.
The following day started very late start for the namrunsnam team. We finally dragged ourselves onto the winding coastal path around midday. The following 24kms were beautiful but we were all pretty quiet! We finally reached Ocean Beach Hostel as the sun was setting, and to my suprise, I heard my name being called. I looked up to see a couple who I’d met a week earlier in Quy Nhon City who had recommended the hostel to me. It didn’t disappoint. The rooms and the bar/restaurant are right on the beach and you can hear the sound of the waves lapping the shore as you fall asleep.
On Tuesday, we waved goodbye to Emily and after a huge breakfast on the beach, Greg and I hit the road again. We followed the Song Cau coastline through small fishing villages built around natural harbours. We waved at the local fisherman paddling their coracle boats and attempted to chat to a group of women who were drying tiny shrimp in huge piles of salt.
Our day ended at a cheap nha nghi (Vietnamese homestay), eating street noodles with a crowd of local onlookers.
Thursday was our final day together, our route took us through more tiny villages alongside the rough, crashing sea. Sadly, the beaches were full of rubbish and we quickly passed on by. Litter has been prevalent everywhere throughout this run and education is the key to change.
The highlight of the day was crossing the longest bamboo bridge in Vietnam. It was roughly 1km long and took us across an estuary. As we wobbled along the bridge, that swayed in the breeze, motorbikes zoomed passed with the usual friendly shouts of ‘HELLO!’.
My journey with Greg ended in the small town of Chi Thanh, which happened to be the end of the bus route where he could catch a ride back to Quy Nhon for his flight back to Saigon the following day. On our last evening, we found a ‘cook your own’, street BBQ restaurant and sampled many of the local dishes as well as the local beer, Bivida.
Friday morning started with a street coffee and a ‘hen gap lai’ to Greg. He had learnt this Vietnamese phrase for ‘see you later’, whilst on his namrunsnam journey and was using it at every opportunity.
It is always such a motivation to run with friends and I am super grateful to Emily and Greg for sacrificing their Tet holidays to come and run with me. Such kindness, generousity, fun and enthusiasm!
Friday’s run was a hilly, highway route into Tuy Hoa where I was to meet Mikey. He is the first person brave (or silly) enough to be joining namrunsnam for the second time! Last time it was cold, rainy and highway focussed the whole time. I assured him it would be prettier second time around. Mikey sent me a confirmation for a hotel he had booked using hotel points and I was thrilled to arrive at Rosa Alba. A beautifully quiet, luxury resort, that once again had me skipping around the room feeling like a queen. After washing my sweaty, running clothes in the scorching, rainfall, power shower, I relaxed on the huge balcony chairs, overlooking the palm tree lined swimming pools, ate the free fruit platter and waited for Mikey to arrive.
On Saturday, Mikey set another namrunsnam record as we ran 34kms to Bai Mon Beach. This is the second longest distance I have covered with a friend. Mikey was there for the 38km longest distance too! This time, instead of following busy highways, we headed into the mountains. Climbing up steep, curving roads, passing huge sand dunes, to stunning view points, above the dramatic rocky coastline far below. Eventually, we dropped down towards Bai Mon Beach, at the end of a triangular bay set between two headlands. We arrived just before sunset, hired a tent and headed down to the sand.
Unfortunately, our need for an early night after the long run, was somewhat ruined by several groups of young locals who turned up to party! By 1am, the thumping techno music, mixed with karaoke finally came to an end and I managed to catch a few hours sleep before a 5am sunrise alarm call. We sleepily hiked up to the Mui Dien Lighthouse, where you can witness the first sunrise in Vietnam. It is the second most eastern point of this country and the most easterly point of my journey. Sunrise was blocked by a few clouds but I was still glad to have visited this stunning area. I would recommend a visit here but maybe try and avoid weekends, unless you are a techno/karaoke fan.
After our early start, we hit the mountain road again. This time to cover a much more civilized 23kms to Bai Bien Dai Lanh Beach. For most of the day we hiked up steep roads that navigated around Vung Ro Bay. During the Vietnam/American War a ship, delivering ammunition, was sunk on the Bay and there is now a museum and memorial to remember the event.
Vung Ro Bay is simply stunning, turquoise water, surrounded by mountainous forest. The rumour is, that this area is primed for huge development. I can’t decide if this is a positive or negative move.
I am writing this from a sunbed at a cheap, cosy beach resort, watching the locals take selfie after selfie, whilst Mikey reclines in his hammock. There are signs scattered around the resort instructing you to dispose of litter correctly and there is even a fish structure on the sand that encourages people to keep the beach clean. At the moment, is is beautiful white sand, I hope it continues.
My legs are hurting but my heart is full! I have the best friends and supporters!
Thank you so much for reading about my challenge. Please consider donating as much or as little as you can to help children in Vietnam access education and to prevent human trafficking. I am currently just under £2000 away from my target of £15000. I am humbled and so so appreciative of this generosity. It will truly change so many lives.
Love Naomi (aka Nam)