Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Can the Land of the Blue Dragon Be as Wonderful as I Can Remember?

Good Morning Vietnam!

Now say that out loud like Robin Williams did in the film! After what has been 18 years since my last visit to this country. I was looking forward to this stop. It had been touch and go with regards to whether we'd make it here in time due to the issues that were keeping us in Japan (see last blog) but eventually we sailed from Yokosuka leaving finally the Land of the Rising Sun and on our way to the Land of the Blue Dragon. Vietnam isn't called the the Land of the Blue Dragon because of it's shape but because it was one of 4 countries that were known as Asia's Dragons. 

My first ever run in Vietnam!
Before we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City formally known as Saigon we had some national tasking to do by order of the Government. This would mean we'd have our lovely little friend back shadowing us as we sailed around. It also meant spending some more time in Defence Watches during that period. The silver lining to this meant I was able to get into the gym when it was really quiet! I had the gym often to myself and I was able to put in some good sessions. I was pretty pleased how my runs went. Yes it meant the dreadmill once more, however I found an app that made it more interesting/enjoyable. Is that even possible?

It's called RunSocial, and it allows me to run in various countries and various events such as the London Marathon. You can run either a section of the race or the entire section. As you run you are either over taken buy other users who are running faster at that point or you may even over take others. During the London Marathon you hear all the cheers and atmosphere as you pass the crowds. 
New motivation on the treadmill!
It has given me a little bit of an incentive to use on the treadmill, I will admit I have slightly enjoyed using the app. Although all the runs have been going well, I may have over pushed it slightly and caused a slightly niggle in my right calf on the inside of the leg. A couple of rests days should now hopefully see it alright, before I go for a run in Vietnam. 

If I'm not on the upperdeck at sea, I'm on the treadmill FML
So we came alongside the port in Ho Chi Minh City, the same one I visited 18 years ago. Much has changed though. At night now it's a beautiful looking sky line, compared to 18 years ago when it wasn't so. It appears to have changed for the better in my opinion. 

As I was planning on heading out early with others from the mess, I went for a run as soon as I could. Now after reading up on running around in Vietnam, most comments mention it's too difficult, so use a gym. Well I thought I'd find out for my self. I looked on google roughly where we were so I had an idea of my out and back route. 

This trip has aged me going by this pic from the gym
Off I went, off the ship, out through the port gate with many locals laughing saying "exercise, exercise" mainly because I was saying this as I didn't need their moped taxi rides (that is a must do experience lol). I turned right and remembered from the map the road followed the river. So I did exactly that followed the river. 

I saw many locals fishing as I passed by, all looking at me as if I was some weirdo. To be fair I probably did look very weird to them. The heavens opened and soon it was raining, lightly at first. I continued on my route, not having to many issues. The road crossings were a bit hairy but to be honest, as long as you have your wits about you,  it's not that hard. 

I eventually got to my turn around point and headed back. The loudest thunder crack I have ever heard (louder than Concorde breaking the sound barrier) followed a bright flash of light and it then rained heavier. 

I ran along despite the rain, as it cooled down the temperature. I took in as much of the atmosphere as possible. I still had my niggle in the calf, so I took the run easy. Not wanting to aggravate it too much, which seem to do the trick. I strapped it up with rock tape once I got back. 

The streets of Ho Chi Minh
I finished back at the port, and I really enjoyed my run. It really wasn't as bad as they made out on the internet to be honest. Like I said as long as you have your wits about you and happy to take your time when it comes to the crossing, then all is good. Yes they are lunatics, red lights mean nothing to them but it's doable. 

So I went out that night had a few too many drinks and had a good time. Visited an old haunt called "Apocalypse Now" which was like I remembered. Suffered the morning after as expected. The following day I went out to the market it area where there was the biggest market of "genuine" goods I've ever seen. You name it they have it, and the quality is getting far better than it used to be. 

On the third day I went off on a trip I did 18 years ago. I visited the Chu Chi Tunnels. it's tunnel system used by the Viet Cong during the war with the Americans. Our tour guide's Grandfather served with the South Vietnam army as a Lieutenant. He was a really good tour guide with a great sense of humour. It was a just as I remembered i.e bloody brill. Highly recommended for sure. It was so interesting and you understand why they were so good at Gorilla warfare compared to the Yanks. 

These trails would be awesome to run on!
As I was walking around with the group, it go me thinking how great it would be to have a little trail race around the area of that Jungle. I reckon they would make a great 5k or 10K route there if not more. 

I also got to fire an M1 Garand rifle, the last time I did this trip I fired an AK47 and M16. This time I wanted something different and it was ace. What a rifle! I can see why it was a legend of a WW2 weapon that continued long after. 

So that brings me to the end of this blog once more. I hope you enjoyed a brief insight to Vietnam. For a communist country apart from all the flags and military dotted about, you wouldn't have known, considering how much this place has changed. it has a lot of western brands and products now, so it's communism has moved on a lot compared to the communism of say North Korea. The people seem happy, it's very tourist attractive now and it appears to be receiving a lot of investment. 
The 18 years difference! (Yep I had hair once)
Thank you all for reading and the continued support. I will be releasing a video of my run around Vietnam in the near future so please pop over to my youtube channel and subscribe. Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition for their continue support. Until Next time!


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Didn't know Tony Stark lived in Vietnam???

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