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Vung Ro Bay To Cam Ranh

Wow, another absolute belter of a week! Running friends, fancy hotels, free hotels, birthday, free drinks, free breakfasts, my first marathon and loads of generous donations…

I was fortunate enough to have Mikey for company for most of this week. Leaving stunning Vung Ro Bay behind us, we faced two days of highway hell. Running on the highway is never a nice experience but it is sometimes the only option. It was much better with a friend, we chatted for endless hours and competed against each other to ‘guess the namrunsnam playlist song’.

The highlight of our highway days were these baby ducks!

Baby ducks!

At the end of a second long highway day, we arrived in Ninh Hoa. Kelly (who is cycling around the world), had recommended a homestay just outside the town. We were welcomed by Khiem, who runs the nha nghi and has brilliant English. I told him that Kelly had recommended his place and he promptly insisted we have our 2 rooms free of charge, in lieu of a charity donation. The kindness of strangers continues.

Khiem’s homestay in Ninh Hoa

The following day was my birthday! We had an awesome breakfast of Cocopops and strong coffee and headed off into the mountains. We planned to run 21kms to a small fishing village where we would find a local bar to celebrate my 36 year. The fishing village was beautiful but lacked the nha nghi we hoped for. We ordered some fried rice and grilled pork and hatched a new plan. We would run 10 additional kms up and over a mountain pass that would take us into the outskirts of Nha Trang. It was the best idea we’d had all week! The pass was absolutely incredible! As the sun beamed down on us, we made our way up and up around winding roads. Each turn treating us to another stunner of a view. At the highest point was a drinks stop with an outstanding location.

Simply stunning
Running buddies

After the tough accent, the decent back down the mountain was delightful. I felt like I was running on air. 2km from our stopping point was a super fancy 5 star resort that Mikey had secretly found on the map earlier that day. We ran in, hot and sweaty and were greeted with confused stares. I was treated to a couple of delicious cocktails overlooking the sea, the mountains and islands of Nha Trang Bay. As the light faded we jogged, slightly wobbly, into the outskirts of Nha Trang.

Birthday drinks

The birthday delights didn’t end there. Our cheap hotel was a few 100 meters up the road from a scuba dive bar. So we spent the rest of the evening drinking cocktails on the house (after explaining it was my birthday and that I was running from Hanoi to HCMC), singing along to cheesy songs and eating an obscene amount of pizza. Mikey also suprised me with a chocopie birthday cake! When running further north, I often had to eat these for dinner as I couldnt find anything else.

Chocopie birthday cake!

The following morning was Mikey’s last day on the road and we had a comfy 8km run along the seafront into central Nha Trang. Just before we reached our hotel, Mikey suggested ‘Last Km, Fast Km’, so we ended our time together with my quickest km of the run so far. I was once again treated to an absolutely stunning hotel on the beachfront, courtesy of Mikey’s hotel points.

Infinity pool @SheratonNhaTrang

The Sheraton Nha Trang, is a beautiful hotel. The colour of the infinity pool matched the perfect ocean. Our spacious twin room gave us a perfect view along the beach front, down the busy Nha Trang promenade.

View from our balcony

After introducing myself and my challenge, we were offered complimentary breakfast and some free drinks on the glamorous rooftop bar. Thank you to the Sheraton for a luxurious stay.

I couldn’t resist Cocopops at the Sheraton

As Mikey prepared for his final night, we welcomed Nick to the run! Nick is a running friend from Saigon and we have completed many races together in Vietnam. I was super excited for him to experience life on the road with me. We fueled ourselves with pizza, as is our tradition before any race. Mikey attempted to fill us with beer and wine as Nick and I had discussed attempting a 40km day, which would beat Mikey’s record of 38km.

Mikey and Nick- legends

We waved goodbye to Mikey and set off along the Nha Trang seafront. We had decided that if we were going to run 40km, we might as well attempt a marathon at 42.2km. Neither of us had run this distance before. The weather was overcast and there was a cooling sea breeze. My legs felt strong after a rest day and the first 10kms flew past in a flurry of catch up conversations and running stories.

Fitness friends

At kilometre 20, after a brutal uphill mountain climb we spotted the Mia Resort and shuffled our way inside. We were met by a smiling security guard who excitedly explained that he had driven past us on his way to work. After some high fives, he showed us the way to the stunning bar area that looked down over the dramatic cliffs into the bay.

After a sugar hit of soft drinks, we hit the road again and ran comfortably down the other side of the winding mountain pass towards Cam Ranh Airport. We had soon reached the 30km mark and I was feeling strong, as though I could keep running (slowly) forever. This was Nick’s furthest run to date and he was beginning to feel the distance. However, he assured me that he wanted to push onwards to reach our marathon goal. At 33km, we heard the shout of a loud, American accent and a flash of stars and stripes sunglasses… it was Mikey! He was on his way to the airport and had been looking out for us. He handed over ice cold bottles of fizzy drinks and water and jumped back into his air-conditioned taxi. What a lovely, thoughtful surprise! Nick who was attempting to stick plasters on his chaffing nipples was delighted!

About 10km to go

After 41.5kms we reached our hotel for the evening. But we ran straight past, there was no way we were not going to reach our marathon target now! We ended our day at 42.36km, running up the hotel steps, like a slow motion scene from rocky. High fives and hugs, we had made it! Technically unltrarunners now!

Chuffed!

We celebrated with a huge pile of fried rice, pork ribs, beef stew, beer and haribo! We were both elated with our achievement and I am so happy to have completed my first marathon with Nick. He showed amazing mental strength and kept me laughing the entire journey. We spent the rest of the evening discussing various aches and pains and which races we are going to sign up to next!

Today’s run was a chilled 12km into Cam Ranh town. My hotel is next door to a massage spa, so we dumped our bags, showered and treated ourselves to an excellent 90minute, full body massage. What a way to end an incredible week!

Recovery run

I’ve just waved Nick off in a taxi and am buzzing from this week’s adventures and achievements. I can feel a huge difference with my endurance, stamina and fitness and am already considering when I am going to attempt my first 50km run.

A huge thank you to both Mikey and Nick for being outstanding running partners and wonderful, kind, generous friends.

Thank you for reading. My fundraising total has now reached an incredible £14265 of my £15000 target! Thank you for all the birthday donations and the incredible total raised by my parent’s quiz.

https://namrunsnam.com/donate/

Love Naomi (aka Nam)

XXX

Namrunsnam Quiz Night

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents are my biggest supporters. When I first told them about my idea to run 2200km from Hanoi to HCMC for Vietnamese charities, they understood. Instead of trying to talk me out of it, they asked questions and helped me with planning and finding equipment that I needed. I am so lucky to be a Skinner!

Lynne and Dave Skinner.

After weeks of planning and hard work, last Saturday night, mum and dad hosted a fundraising quiz for namrunsnam. The Westbough School Hall was packed with teams ready to quiz! Tables were made up of family members, friends and colleagues. I was blown away by the amount of support we received. 

Thank you to Westbough school for hosting

As well as the quiz, there was a raffle. I contacted some Maidstone businesses via email and was excited to be offered a variety of prizes. A special thank you to Freedom Fitness, Maidstone Fixings, Fredricks, Sue Spiel Therapies and the Curious Eatery for their prize donations. Thank you also to family friends, Maureen and Colin, who donated a bottle of whisky to the prize draw.

Raffle prizes

Woven Vietnam, run by my selfless friend Natasha, who I played netball with in Saigon, had a stall at the event. Woven’s beautiful products are handcrafted by Vietnamese women. Natasha is striving to empower these weavers to get a fair price for their skills and ensure their craft and communities can continue to thrive. Natasha kindly donated 5% of her sales to namrunsnam. Thank you Natasha! Find out more about woven by following their Instagram page @wovenvietnam

Woven Vietnam

The quiz night and raffle raised an outstanding £670!!! This amount of money will truly change lives here in Vietnam. It could be used to rescue a victim of trafficking from slavery, reunite her with her family and prosecute the traffickers. It could ensure kids are no longer sleeping rough on the big city streets and are instead attending school with full bellies and a head full of knowledge.

My brother Grant was on the winning team (not a fix)

I’d like to finish with expressing my gratitude to everyone who came to the event to support namrunsnam and most importantly my incredible parents who are simply awesome! I cannot wait to see them on the finish line next month!

https://namrunsnam.com/donate/

Can you answer some of the quiz questions?

1. Which Graham Greene novel is set in Vietnam?

2. Tom Cruise was nominated for an Oscar for which 1989 film, where he played a returning Vietnam war veteran?

3. The musical Miss Saigon, was based in which opera?

Thank you for reading

Naomi (aka Nam)

XXX

South Quy Nhon to Vung Ro Bay.

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.

The view from Ocean Beach Hostel

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.

Coracle boats
Drying shrimp for paste

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.

We were told there was a cafe here!

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!’.

Vietnam’s longest bamboo bridge
Greg

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.

Greg cooking up some delicious BBQ pork

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!

Such a great week with these two legends

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.

Rosa Alba Resort, Tuy Hoa

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.

Beach camping buddies
Bai Mon Beach

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.

The first sunrise in Vietnam
Mui Dien Lighthouse was destroyed by bombs during the war
To the beach!

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.

Unknown ship memorial

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.

Vung Ro Bay from above

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.

Perfect for selfies
Feed the fish your rubbish!
Mikey posing in his hammock

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.

https://namrunsnam.com/donate/

Thank you.

Love Naomi (aka Nam)

XXX

Quy Nhon to South Quy Nhon!

Hi everyone,

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.

From Quy Nhon to Bai Xep.

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.

The old leper hospital at Queen’s Beach.

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!

Bai Xep Beach.

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!

Feeling like a queen at Crown Retreat.

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.

Fitness friends!

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!

Banh Xeo lady.

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!

Feeling so fancy in my clean clothes!

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

Thank you

Love Naomi (aka Nam)

Fresh Water Bay to Quy Nhon

This week has been a week of incredible views! This run is getting more and more beautiful every week.

On Monday, I left Fresh Water Bay to run up and over 2 more mountain passes. The going was tough but absolutely worth the hard hill climbs. At each turn of the winding, empty mountain roads, I was greeted by beauty. Sparkling blue seas, pine forests, golden sand, tiny villages…

Traditional fishing boats called coracles.

From one mountain peak, I could see an idealic beach resort far below. I saw secluded, wooden beach huts and an infinity pool reaching the sea. As I looked on in envy, I noticed the name of the resort and was delighted to note that it is the place that Saigon friends, Greg and Emily have booked for us to stay in over the TET (Chinese New year) long weekend. I am particularly looking forward to the buffet breakfast!

The week, I have almost halfed my milage, going from between 120- 150km to just 80km, it has felt like a holiday! The reason for this, it that I’m ahead of schedule to meet Emily and Greg and it has given me a great excuse to explore some of the more hidden beaches and villages that are not on the most direct route.

I arrived at Nhon Ly fishing village and set about exploring the narrow streets with their close together jumble of wooden houses. The village was a hive of activity with people sewing fishing nets, mending boats, drying shrimps in the hot sunshine or cooking over an open fire. I was lucky enough to be able to see all of this in exchange for a smile and a wave.

Nhon Ly fishing village

The following day was a rest day, so I hired a bike and drove up an incredibly steep mountain pass to Ky Co Beach. I was glad I wasn’t running it! On reaching the top of the peak, I was transferred into an off road golf buggy for the very steep ascent down to the bay. Seeing the beach from above for the first time made me gasp, it was picture postcard stunning. I’ve been to more than my fair share of beaches and Ky Co is possibly the most perfect I have ever seen. Pictures and videos do not do this place justice. I urge you to visit before the tourists invade and sadly leave more than their footprints behind.

From Nhon Ly village, I ran to Nhon Hai village. Up and over more rolling sand dunes and mountain passes, but again it was worth the effort. I had read about a hostel nestled amongst the rocks at the far end of the beach. I had decided to brave my first dorm to save a bit of money but on arrival was informed that I was the only guest! I had my own private 10 bed dorm room, personal chef and bar tender. I felt like an expat princess on my own luxury island! I spent my days reading my book, in a hammock, under the shade of a coconut tree and my evenings working my way through the delicious food menu.

Nhon Hai beach

After dragging myself away from the paradise that is Nhon Hai, I headed towards Quy Nhon City. Whilst at the beach, I had met travellers, Dani and MiMi, who were based in the city and they had recommended the homestay they were staying in, so that took away the normal Google maps, hotel search. To reach the city, I had to run over Thi Nai Bridge, which is the longest oversea bridge in Vietnam. As I was running the 2.5km bridge I noticed my pace was quicker than it has been for the entire run so far. I was running my ‘pre namrunsnam’ pace but with a 6kg backpack and with the midday sun beating down on me. This shows how important rest and decent nutrition is.

Thi Nai Bridge

The final 7km of my run to the homestay was along the beachfront promenade. The kms flew by as I took in the sparkling sea, litter free, golden sand and mountains in the distance.

Quy Nhon from above

After checking into the emaculate hotel, (definately a great recommendation) I headed to Quy Nhon Sports Bar to meet a few locals and expats for a beer and a chat. I met Thanh, a Quy Nhon resident, who spent the last three months cycling half of the provinces in Vietnam. He intends to cycle the remaining ones at the next oppertunity. We were joined by Dani and MiMi and spent the evening travel chatting, playing pool and sampling the local rice wine. As I write this, my head is still a little sore. Tomorrow, I am leaving Quy Nhon for a backpacker beach a little further south and am hoping to be joined by a few of the people I’ve met over the last couple of days. Friends of Chris from Hanoi, are also flying in to run with me! Once again the kindness of strangers has been evident this week as I have been welcomed into this friendly community.

As always, thank you for reading. Please share this blog and tell people about the crazy running lady. My trip is 100% self funded with every penny donated going towards helping children access the education they deserve and to end human trafficking.

https://namrunsnam.com/donate/

Love Naomi (aka Nam)

XXX

Maria writes about her namrunsnam experience!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of running with two of my former netball team mates, Grant and Maria. Go Nguyenners!

Maria works at BIS and has written an article about her time on the road last weekend.

Click on the below link to find out more.

https://www.nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city/bis/article/2020/1/16/nam-runs-nam-update-more-than-half-way-from-hanoi-to-ho-chi-minh-city

Quang Ngai to Fresh Water Bay

Hi everyone!

I’d like to start today’s blog with a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We have now raised in excess of £11000!

This is the equivalent of ensuring 550 street kids eat 3 healthy meals a day for a month. Or one street kid being able to eat for the next 42 years! With a full belly, these kids are able to engage with school and access the education they deserve for a brighter future. It could also mean a minimum of 36 women are rescued from human slavery overseas and can be reunited with their families. As the Vietnamese government is now working hard to stop human trafficking, this money will also help to prosecute the criminals behind these heinous crimes.

After waving goodbye to the runners from Quang Ngai running club at the start of the week, I was faced with two boring highway days. Sometimes there is just no other option. However, the road was surrounded by rice paddies, freshwater lakes and rolling mountains so at least I had good views to keep me distracted.

An Khe freshwater lake.

On Wednesday, I was joined by Dzung from Quang Ngai runners club. He had been unable to join us for our weekend run out of the city so instead took the morning off work, jumped on a bus down the highway and led me on one of the most beautiful runs of the route so far! The run took us from Quang Ngai Province into Binh Dinh.

Dzung and I at a deserted beach in the south of Quang Ngai Province.

After trudging up a steep hill, we entered Binh Dinh Province. Dzung explained that alongside Ben Tre (down in the Mekong Delta), Binh Dinh is a successful coconut producing province. We ran over many rivers and I noticed the physical similarities between the two regions. Many coconut trees were growing on the side of the river banks, with their fruit hanging heavily from the branches. There were also mangroves trees springing out of the water, bearing fruit that I didn’t recognise and Dzung didn’t know the English name for. (Edit- they were mangrove crabapples). After ordering 2 well needed revive drinks (full of electrolytes), during a drinks break, I was once again treated to the kindness of strangers. Instead of telling us that they only sold coffee, the young man running the cafe, jumped on his bike and returned 2 minutes later with a box of our requested drink and a bag of ice. Outstanding service!

Beautiful riverside trails lined with coconut trees.

By 11am, we had completed 24kms and Dzung treated me to a delicious lunch of pork pho and ran back to the highway to catch his bus! I hope he made it back to work on time without his boss realising where’d he been!

Thursday, was a short, hot day. Luckily, I had planned this in advance, as from the moment I stepped out to run, I knew it was not going to be fun! Again, the route was beautiful, following the coast with the crash of the waves as my soundtrack. However, I couldn’t get myself in the zone, my legs felt like lead and my mind told me to just get it over with. It could have been to do with nutrition or my mind tricking me into thinking that a short day should be easy. Eitherway, I didn’t enjoy the run and was really glad to check into my cheap hotel, knowing that I didn’t have to leave the following day. The view from my hotel was an absolute stunner, I had a word with myself and reminded myself what a privilege it is that I can experience this journey.

A hotel with a view (and it only cost £4 a night!)

My rest day was spent eating. I discovered the plastic table and chairs restaurant next door to my hotel specialised in fresh prawns. Over the course of 36 hours, I think I ate around 60 prawns! Some cooked with lemon grass and chilli, others with fried rice and crunchy vegetables. As well as the prawns, I visited the same ice cream shop 4 times, much to the continued suprise of the lady who worked there.

After finishing their busy working weeks, Maria and Grant both headed to the airport to come and run with me for the weekend. When living in Saigon, I played on the same netball team as them and was excited to spend time with them off court. (Go Nguynners!)

Cafe sua da- the ultimate caffine kick.

Maria and Grant couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to come running. Every moment of our Saturday run was fantastic. The landscape changed rapidly from paddy fields to mountains to beach to desolate wasteland to small, friendly villages. Maria absolutely smashed her distance personal best and ran a whopping 30km. Her positivity, joy and perseverance was a pleasure to be part of. One of the best things about having guests running with me, are the running chats. Over the course of the day we covered a multitude of topics and got to know each other so much more than during the 3 years we played netball together. On Saturday evening, Maria hopped in a taxi and headed back to Quy Nhon to catch her flight back to Saigon.

Maria smiled the whole day. This was taken 29.5kms into a 30km day!

After waving Maria off, Grant and I cracked open a beer to celebrate an awesome day and Maria’s achievements. As we looked out on the stunning mountains surrounding us, the beer flowed and before we knew it, it was midnight and way past my bedtime! After agreeing on a civilised meeting time we headed off to bed. The sore heads of this morning were quickly seen off by a huge portion of pho and a couple of cafe sua da’s. Grant is a very quick marathon runner and has done loads of ultra races, his furthest being 128km through the temples of Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It would be true to say that I was a little intimidated by this and worried I would be unable to keep up with him, with just the two of us running. As it turned out, I was utterly wrong, Grant was the perfect, inspirational buddy! The kms flew by as we chatted about fitness events that we have been part of. Grant told stories of 100km races around a 1km track, helicopter rescues off Swiss mountain ranges and his team 300km run in 30 hours in aid of Newborns Vietnam. Without even realising it, we had covered 17kms and the pace was the quickest I’ve run since starting my namrunsnam challenge.

A typical village Vietnamese kitchen (and Grant!)

For lunch, we were readying ourselves for the usual noodle soup but to our absolute joy of joys we spotted a fried chicken shop! We skipped in and ordered 2 very large fried chicken meals with huge sugary drinks. Full of protein, the remaining 12kms flew past at an equally speedy pace. At points, the scenery was so stunningly beautiful that it looked almost like a painting. The wind was blowing through the paddy fields making the luscious green plants sway in the breeze, the tiny river inlets were sparkling under the perfect blue sky, all under the watch of the peaceful mountain ranges surrounding us.

An idealic place to call home
Stunning views to complete a perfect day

We finished the day after 29km to complete a weekend distance of 59km. My self belief at an all time high, I broached the subject of attempting a 42km day at some point on my run. “Why do a marathon, when you can do 50km?”, replied Grant. So watch this space!

Grant is a truly inspirational running buddy

As always, thank you so much for reading (I think it was a long one this week!)

This week’s blog is dedicated to the memory of my bright pink trainers. They helped me to cover 1182km of this insanely wonderful journey.

Thank you!

On a more serious note, please re-read paragraph two of this blog to see how you can help change the lives of women and children in this wonderful, but sometimes unfair, country. My target is £15000 and we are getting closer to reaching it every week. Please consider donating as little or as much as you can afford.

Thank you again

Love Naomi (aka Nam)

xxx

Hoi An to Quang Ngai

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.

Tam Thanh Art Village.

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 crossing over 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!

A door to nowhere!

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.

Survival mode! (It wasn’t as bad as it sounds mum!)

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.

Ly Son Island

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.

Thank you for dinner!

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!

Perfect preparation for a 24km run!

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!

Fitness friends!

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!

Running buddies!

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.

Much love,

Naomi (aka Nam)

xxx

The kindness of strangers

This year I had decided that I would simply ignore Christmas. I planned to either run through it or give myself a rest day on the beach. However, that all changed after I reached out to the running community of DaNang.

After running with Ross and Jodi from DaNang to Hoi An, they invited me to spend Christmas Eve with them and a merry crew of expats and locals. We went to a cute, little cafe in the back streets of DaNang, for a ‘potluck dinner’ and I spent a lovely evening chatting to a variety of interesting people from all over the world.

Potluck christmas eve dinner.

On Christmas morning, I took myself to the beach for a coffee and looked out across the beautiful golden sand onto the sparkling blue sea beyond. I watched surfers riding the waves and travellers sipping beers in the shade of the coconut trees. I finished my coffee and jumped onto the back of a Grab bike (motorbike taxi) and headed to the local market, as I had been invited to spend Christmas day with another lovely crew of expats. In exchange for a bag of oranges from the market, Em cooked the most delicious Christmas dinner! We ate turkey with all the trimmings, drank freshly squeezed orange juice and feasted on loads of Christmas chocolates! For the second day in a row, I looked around the table at the smiling faces of these people I had just met. Yet again, the kindness of strangers on this trip is blowing my mind. How lucky am I!?

A proper Christmas day!

On Boxing Day morning, I hopped out of bed and headed to a yoga class at Em Yoga. I’m definitely not a yogi but I know it does me good and helps with my recovery on this journey, so I tried to go most days during my stay in the city. After the class, I had coffee and cake with a couple of the girls and received a couple of offline donations towards my amazing charities.

Full of cake, I decided to stick to Boxing Day tradition and go for a walk. Whenever I’m back in the UK with the Skinners, we usually head to the seaside for a brisk walk along the front, eat fish and chips and play in the penny arcades. The Son Tra Peninsula with the huge, marble-white lady Buddha had been beconing me towards her over the last couple of days. I decided to go for a hike up to the Buddha, I reached her after about 5kms of winding uphills roads. After consulting my map, I noticed that here were many smaller trails all over the peninsula. Ignoring the fact that I should be resting, I ploughed on up into the mountains. The scenery was stunning, exposed cliff edges with sweeping views across DaNang beach and the towering city buildings beyond.

View from the Son Tra Peninsula.

Em (my Christmas buddy), had told me about the endangered Langar monkeys that are found on Son Tra, I didn’t expect to see any as they are so rare. However, I turned a corner and was greeted by the sound of these animals chatting away to each other and I soon spotted about 3 or 4 of the endangered monkeys up in the trees.

Lucky to spot a Langar Monkey.

After 13kms of very steep terrain, I reached the end of a trail, which was home to an 800 year old Banyan tree. The tree had been a shelter/look out for soldiers during conflicts here. I sat under the branches and tried to imagine what it might have been like to spend days, weeks, months up on this isolated mountain. I concluded, that I would have been terrified and terribly lonely.

800 year old Banyan tree.

On the steep descents, I couldn’t resist having a little run and letting gravity pull me downwards. Without the weight of my backpack, I felt like I was flying!

“rest day”

On the 27th, it was time to head to Hoi An beach, to restart the run. I was treated to a delicious, Greek souvlaki lunch by Em, who had been out cycling, and we chatted about future adventures and how great it is to meet like minded people.

Fitness friends..

After lunch, I went back to the exact point where I had stopped running the previous week and set off into Hoi An old town. I ran next to rice paddies and the stunning yellow buildings of Hoi An ancient town, I even managed to ensure that my route took me over the iconic Japanese Bridge.

Hoi An ancient town.

Today was time to get back on the road properly, I was lucky enough to be joined my Jude and Fiorella, friends and fellow teachers who had flown up from Saigon. We were joined my Chris and Gabs (who are currently cycling around the world), who I had previously met in DaNang. As we jogged through the bustling streets and over high bridges out into the countryside, Chris flew his drone over head and has kindly offered to put the footage together to raise awareness for my charities. More random acts of kindness from people I’ve just met!

Running friends.

We waved Chris and Gabs off at the 10km point but I’m sure we will catch up later down the road towards Saigon. Jude, Fiorella and I headed towards the coast. We ran through tiny villages and soon were hearing the familiar shouts of ‘HELLO!’ and waving at many a friendly local. The day ended with 2kms along a beautifully sandy beach and a couple of delicious passion fruit juices. At 24kms, this was Jude’s longest ever run day and she smashed it! It was just another training run for Fiore, who is tackling a mountain marathon in a couple of weeks! I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to restart this challenge with.

Running buddies!

Thank you for spending your time reading about my adventures.

I’m having the most amazing time but the real reason I’m doing this is for the kids and women of this amazing country who need a bit of support to get back on their feet. Without a birth certificate, children are unable to attend school, my chosen charities sort out this very important paperwork. The fact that human trafficking still exists as we are heading into 2020, is simply wrong. We can all help to make this change and improve the future for thousands of kids and women.

Please help by donating as little or as much as you can, sharing my page, telling people about the running lady or coming to experience some of this journey with me.

Much love and happy new year!

Naomi (aka Nam)

XXX

Hue to Hoi An.

Wow, what an incredible week! Both for on the road experiences and donations! Thank you!!!

This week I have spent the majority of the week running through beautiful scenery with not a highway in sight. The air quality has been great and I’ve had some fabulous company along the way.

Soon after leaving Hue, I spent a couple of days navigating around Tam Giang Lagoon. It is the biggest lagoon in South East Asian, surrounded by mountains and is home to many fishing villages and hundreds of smiling, waving Vietnamese.

A stunning place to run.

Access to food on this part of my journey, through central Vietnam, has become much easier. On most streets I see huge signs advertising ‘COM Binh Dan’. This is a traditional lunch option and consists of a huge pile of rice topped with a variety of different proteins and veges, chosen from a selection. A bit like a savoury pick and mix. A few days of eating well and I can feel my body responding and feeling strong again.

Everything I need on one plate.

After coming to the end of the lagoon, I had to highway run for a couple of kms and quickly saw a huge tunnel looming in front of me. It very clearly had a sign saying no cyclists or people on foot… This meant that I would have to retrace my steps, adding at least another 10km to an already long 30km day. As people who know me well know, I love rules and the idea of breaking them worries me. However, not as much as the throught of an extra 10km of highway hell. So, after a quick look around for anyone official looking, I sprinted through the tunnel. Possibly clocking up the quickest km of the trip so far!

Uh oh!

On successfully completing my tunnel sprint, I heading back towards the coast where I would spend the night at what appeared to be a busy, touristy bay.

Chan May Bay is stunning! However, definately not the bustling beach spot I was hoping for. Due to it being off season, I was, yet again, the only guest in the beach side hotel, luckily managing to find the one open beach restaurant. I had another huge plate of rice and loads of fresh seafood. The next morning, as I jogged along the pristine beach, I watched the locals building wooden beach huts and bars, ready for the high season. Chan May Bay is somewhere I highly recommend visiting (when it’s actually open!)

Chan May Bay.
My only friends on Chan May Bay.

From Chan May Bay, it was a nice 18km day, alongside the beach and through pine forests, to Lang Co, which is at the foot of the Hai Van Pass (a mountain road that separates Hue and Da Nang Provinces). I was to meet Chris in Lang Co and we would tackle the pass together. Chris has been an amazing supporter of my journey and the gym he part owns, The Fitness Village, hosted a charity day for namrunsnam and it is where we begin the very start of this run. Once Chris arrived, we caught up over a great meal, in a seafood restaurant that stretched out over Lang Co lagoon. I talked about the highs and lows of my adventure so far and Chris lectured me on nutrition. Apparently chocopies are not a good food source!

A fisherman on Lang Co.

The night before starting the Hai Van Pass, I didn’t sleep very well as I was nervous of the steep ascent. In reality it was by far the best day of the trip so far!

We woke early and were greeted by heavy rain and thick clouds. When I rode the Pass, with my parents, it had been terrible weather so I hoped for a clearer day this time. We waited for the bad weather to pass and then begun the climb. The clouds soon closed in again and we were battered with some pretty heavy rain. Nethertheless, spirits were high as we jogged, chatted and hiked up the steeper sections. After 13kms of up we reached the summit, soaking wet but smiling and proud.

We made it to the top of the Hai Van Pass.

The 13km down the Pass, flew by as we let gravity take control. The clouds began to part and the sun tried it’s best to shine on us. We were treated to some lovely views and many offers of lifts on motorbikes (which we happily declined!)

Chris adding a few filters to his photos!
On the Da Nang side of the Pass.

The run into Da Nang city was beautiful; palm trees, blue skies and sparkling seas. An absolute stunner of a welcome. To celebrate we jumped into a cab (after carefully pinpointing the exact spot where I had stopped running) and heading into Hoi An to meet a couple of Chris’ mates who were in town. Thanks for letting us stay!

Life is good with beer and friends.

During a rest day back in Da Nang, which included yoga, a two hour massage and lots of great Italian food, I had contacted the local expat and running groups to see if anyone wanted to join me for my run from Da Nang into Hoi An. On Sunday morning, I was greated by 3 runners and 2 cyclists- who are cycling around the world, crossing all 7 continents, for the next 7 years. After a coffee, we hit the coastal road that leads to An Bang beach, near Hoi An. After 7kms we waved goodbye to Ross and Jodi, who headed back to Da Nang, as well as Chris and Gabriella, who cycled on ahead into Hoi An. That left me and Tuan, who set off at a pretty quick pace! I spent the next 14kms chasing him to the beach. It was my quickest run this whole trip but I was really pleased that I was still able to hit a decent pace, all whilst wearing my 6kg backpack and sweating in the midday heat. (Next step, a sub 2hr half marathon) (not whilst on this trip!)

Thanks everyone for coming out and joining me!

Now for a few days rest over Christmas and a quick visa run (on a bus) to Laos. I’ve kindly been invited to a Christmas Eve get together with some of the DaNang expats, so that will keep me busy and I’m hoping for a sunshine beach day on the 25th.

I will run from An Bang beach into Hoi An old town on the 28th December and will be joined by friends, Fiorella and Jude on the 29th for the run out of Hoi An.

As always, thank you so much for reading. Please share this page and tell everyone you know about the crazy girl who is running from Hanoi to HCMC.

Please donate as little or as much as you can. It truly will make a huge difference to the lives of kids and women, who need our support to help them get back on their feet.

Go on, it’s Christmas! https://namrunsnam.com/donate/

Lots of love

Naomi XXX (aka Nam)