I’ve had a super short running week and have covered a total of 16kms, much shorter than my usual daily average! This is due to it being TET holidays and the fact that I am ahead of schedule.
On Monday I was joined by Christine and Brian, who live in Hanoi and I had met at the fundraising event back at the very start of my run. We were also joined by Tung, a Quy Nhon local, who is attempting to cycle through each province in Vietnam.
We ran a very hilly coastal 12kms, up high cliffs and then dropping down again to small bays. Over the last 100 plus kms, I have witnessed stunning scenes and fortunately this run didn’t disappoint. At one point, the four of us jogged down a steep slope to Queens Beach. This is a significant village in Quy Nhon Province as it is a leper colony. The hospital has been closed for many years; however, some villagers are still living with the effects of the disease. There are many statues, plaques and memorials dedicated to doctors and religious folk who set up and worked in the colony when it was at its busiest. Some Vietnamese, who live in the surrounding areas, warned me not to go to this beach as they believe it is haunted. I found it a peaceful, quiet place with the usual friendly, smiling faces.
Our hilly run ended at Bai Xep Beach, a tiny fishing village that is slowly embracing the influx of tourists to this area. Currently, there are a few small hostels and resorts on the beach but the area feels like it could explode and sadly be ruined by huge high end resorts soon. Visit sooner rather than later!
I spent the next couple of days lazing under the shade of palm trees, swimming in the turquoise sea, eating lots of western food and drinking too many local rum cocktails. Christine and Brian were staying in the neighbouring resort to my hostel dorm room and were great company. We pulled ourselves away from the bar and sunloungers, to hike up a waterfall. After clambering barefoot over rocks and boulders, we jumped into a perfect pool at the bottom of the flowing waterfall to cool down. Scrambling further up the rocks we were treated to a stunning view, over the rocky outcrops, down to the sparkling sea, scattered with a few fishing boats.
On Friday, I decided to add a few more kms to my very short week and run along the cliff top road to a bay about 4kms further south. Christine and Brian joined me again, setting a pretty fast pace up and over the steeps hills. We reached a small hostel perched on the side of a cliff above a rocky bay with raging waves. We commented that we could be on the west coast of Ireland, apart from the fact that we were sweating rather than shivering!
After a couple of post-run beers, I jumped in a taxi back to Quy Nhon City as Emily and Greg, two really close Saigon friends, were treating me to a few days of rest and relaxation at a super fancy resort. Upon arrival at Crown Retreat, I felt like an imposter in my sweaty running gear and battered backpack. I was shown to my beachside bungalow and felt like a queen! After showering in the high pressure shower, overlooking the pristine private beach and perfect ocean views, I put on my robe and reclined on the huge, soft bed, surrounded by a choice of pillows. I’m lucky enough to have stayed at a few luxury hotels over the years (living in Abu Dhabi for 5 years previous to Vietnam), but from waking up in a sweaty dorm room in the morning to skipping around my private bungalow has got to be highlight! Thank you Greg and Emily, I feel so swanky!
On the first night, we treated ourselves to a couple of bottles of champagne (interestingly named ‘fat bastard’) and fancy food at the hotel restaurant. Yesterday we ventured out to climb up to a huge Buddha statue that sits at the top of 660 steps. The climb was sweaty but the view and the breeze at the top were absolutely worth it.
After building up our appetites, I remembered a banh xeo stall I had visited when I ran through this area. We sat at plastic tables, ordered a couple of beers and a demolished a heap of Vietnamese pancake rolls, for a total of 3pounds between us. We are experiencing and embracing two different sides of Vietnam!
We have 3 nights of luxury before hitting the road again. Emily and Greg are joining me for a few days and after speaking to some locals and expats in Quy Nhon, I have been assured the the route will lead us to equally stunning locations. I’m super excited to have my generous, kind, funny friends join me for the next part of this journey and hope they love it as much as I do!
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read about my adventures. It is truly a journey of a lifetime and I am so very fortunate to be able to experience the highs and lows that it brings.
I am running to raise awareness and funds for people less fortunate than myself. If a child in Vietnam does not have a birth certificate, they are unable to attend school. The charities I am working with, ensure that the necessary paperwork is secured and the children receive the education that should be their right. The charities are also working tirelessly to end human trafficking. A crime that should never be happening in the year 2020.
To donate or find out more, please visit my website http://www.namrunsnam.com
Love Naomi (aka Nam)