Saturday, August 09, 2008

Backpacker Jogging in Saigon

My plan, the reason I've dragged my running shoes around the world with me, was to run every other day or so, during my entire trip. My running shoes came out of my bag for the second time in the last month today, to try out a little jogging in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. 

My bed and breakfast is conveniently located only a few blocks from one of the biggest parks in the city, and after 3 iced Vietnamese coffees I was ready to run. Have I mentioned that there are over 5 million motorbikes in this city? Venturing into the street is both risky and tons of fun. It's not uncommon to have the lanes be packed 10 to 15 bikes across, traveling at high speeds, disobeying every posted sign and stop light. I surged through them "Life in Technicolor" drifting soothingly from my ear buds. Although I took a different route than originally planned, I made it to the park and began running laps, counter clockwise with the flow of Saigonese, power-walking their way around the pretty park circle. I seemed to be the only one running, which was ok with me, it just showed off the might of my stride, for all to see. As dusk fell, I decided to head back to my hostel, through old women resting lazily on their mopeds, youth, playing a sort of hacky-sack darts, couples, ballroom dancing and a game of soccer. But it became clear, very quickly, that I was lost. 

I'd had the clarity of mind to stuff some Vietnamese bills in my pocket, but not to write down the address of my hostel. I walked around for about an hour, pouring sweat, in the dark, before my pride was finally defeated and I raised my hand for a cab. I wrote down what I thought was the address and handed it to the driver, who then proceeded to take off at high speed, in the wrong direction. After a few minutes, I asked him to stop at an internet kiosk. 20 minutes later, my gmail homepage finally loaded and I was able to copy down the address to my hostel. Two and a half hours after I began my run, I was finally back home. The driver was demanding a wad of money, it seems he left the meter running while I was waiting on the slowest internet connection I've yet experienced. So I paid the man.

It felt good to run, but it's hard to stay on any kind of schedule when you're backpacking. In short, forgive me for not posting videos, they'll come soon enough.


Laura said...

Sarah and I did a 3-mile run together tonight. We were thinking about ya and are glad to hear that you were able to get a run in too. Next time write down your address though, k?

Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow. always an adventure :)

Cara said...

It's the mishaps like that that really make traveling... real. Thanks for sharing.