After a fabulous weekend with Jules, Ellie and Hazel it was time to hit the road again solo.
After consulting my map, which is my best friend on the road, I realised I was going to have to put in some serious kms, unless I wanted to sleep on a mountain road the next night.
So, last Monday, I officially became an ultra runner. I covered a brutal 46.5kms through a desert and over a huge mountain pass whilst tackling some serious crosswinds that battered me and my backpack for hours. The route was also really desolate with not many cafes or places to get water. So not only was it my longest run, it was also the heaviest my pack had ever been. As I lay aching in my hotel room later that evening, I felt a great sense of achievement. I’m considering attempting a 50km day but it’s very hot at the moment and will continue to get hotter, so maybe the next ultra will wait until it’s a bit cooler…
The day following my ultra run was 26kms of highway hell. I spent the day listening to music, waving at tourists on bikes and trying to push out kms until the end of the day. As I was running alongside salt flats and a power station, 3 western girls on the back of big bikes rumbled past, as always I gave them a cheery wave. However, this time one of the bikes did a U-turn and one of the girls jumped off. I knew her! It was Jess, who I had previously worked with at BIS, who now lives in Thailand. What an absolute coincidence! After a roadside chat and a hug we went in our separate directions. This chance meetings gave me the boost that I needed to get me through a tough day.
In the evening, during my usual search for food, I was frog marched (with a smile) by a local lady into her house. On which she promptly feed me grapefruit and tea. After I had exhausted my very, very limited Vietnamese, she called her son’s to come and see the foreign lady she had found in the village. It turned out the two sons, both in their twenties, had excellent English and were attending university in HCMC to become pharmacists. They were back in their home town as their university was closed due to the Corona virus. After more tea and grapefruit, the three of us headed out for street food. I was told that Hoa Phu, was the home of banh xeo (pancakes with seafood and beansprouts) and that they were taking me to the lady who made the best in the whole of Vietnam. On arriving at the street food stand, we were welcomed like long lost friends and I was handed a bowl of sardines as a welcome snack! The boys were not wrong, the banh xeo really were delicious. This was another example, of the kindness of strangers and how welcome I have been made by the citizens of this wonderful country.
The following day promised to be another brutal desert day. I would be running through the famous white sand dunes north of Mui Ne. I once again stocked up on food and water and headed off into the desert. It was a beautiful run, although very hilly as the road followed the path of the dunes. Having lived in Abu Dhabi previous to moving to Vietnam, I thought I had seen the best of the desert. I wasnt prepared for the scale or the beauty of the white sand dunes. They were stunning!
After a weird homestay, in what I can only describe as a stable, I was heading into Mui Ne. A stretch of beach that is famous for kite surfing. As I ran down from the dunes, I was once again battered by strong winds but they helped to keep me cool from the scorching sun so I really didn’t mind. My legs were crying out for a rest day and I knew I only had a short, 14km day to get through until I could stop for 36hours. I had chosen to stay at a kitesurfing hostel and was pretty sure the price of a dorm room was a misprint on their website. For 22k a night (72p), I could apparently stay in a beachside dorm room, where the sounds of the sea lulled me to sleep.
I checked in for 2 nights at Longson Beach Camp and ate as much western food as I could whilst listening to a really interesting podcast about an incident of human trafficking in Sapa, Vietnam.
Sisters for Sale: Every Stranger’s Eyes: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/835984.rss
On the Friday evening, I ended up in a beer pong tournament. As anyone who knows me from Abu Dhabi will know, this is one of my secret talents. My very American teammate and I, won the tournament and received a bucket of rum and coke for our efforts. So much for my chilled out rest day! On check out, I was charged 46000vnd for 2 nights accommodation! The price really was correct!
Today, I was to run into central Mui Ne, via the Fairy Stream that Jules had recommended when she visited last weekend. The road into Mui Ne once again followed the sand dunes up and down. My legs didn’t feel totally rested after just one day off and have clearly had enough of hills! After 12kms I paused to visit the stream.
The Fairy Stream is a shallow stream that runs through white and orange sand dunes and rock formations. You splash barefoot through the 1km stream and end up at a waterfall at the end. As I arrived around lunchtime, the stream was very quiet and I was able to soak in the magical atmosphere.
Feeling rejuvenated after my spot of tourism, I enjoyed a cafe sua da next to the stream and headed off for the final 6km into Mui Ne. On arrival at another cute hostel, I headed straight for a massage. It was delightful and my legs now feel somewhat normal! There is a Turkish restaurant next door and I fully intend to make a spectacle of myself there this evening by eating enough for a small family.
This week was a really important week for fundraising. We hit £15000!!! An absolutely incredible figure and it will change the lives of many vunerable children and women here in Vietnam. I am humbled by people’s generosity and the kind words that I wake up to and receive on a daily basis. Thank you.
As always, thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this, please share it with friends and family. My main aim is to raise awareness of the existence of human trafficking and the fact that without a birth certificate, children are unable to attend school here.
Here’s the donation link, if you would like to contribute. https://namrunsnam.com/donate/
I am currently in the process of making plans for my return to HCMC… Watch this space!
Love Naomi (aka Nam)