Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Running and Orienteering in Vietnam

I have now been in Vietnam for about four weeks, and I'll be here for another two months.  I am staying in a small community in the mountains of Hoa Binh province, called Dong Chua.  The view from here is stunning and when I first saw the hills and mountains I could not wait to get out for a run.  When I went for my first run, I ran up into the mountains, on a winding dirt road along the top of a ravine.  I ran through another, even smaller community farther up in the mountains. I got a lot of strange looks from all the villagers, but I guess that's understandable.

The road I ran along.
Imagine.  You live in a small community with less than 100 houses in the mountains of Vietnam.  You have to boil all your water to drink.  You have to boil water if you want to have a hot shower.  You do your laundry by hand in a large metal bowl.  You've probably never seen a person running just for the sake of it.  You've never seen a person with blonde hair.  You've never seen a Canadian. And suddenly there's this blonde haired girl, running through the one street in your community, wearing a very Canadian running top.  Personally, I understand why they were surprised.
This is the kind view I had on my run.
Unfortunately, when I was returning from my run, the Vietnamese supervisor of the group I'm with saw me and questioned what I had been doing.  When he realized that I had been out running in the mountains on my own (with a cell phone and on a road that never split so I couldn't possibly get lost), he told me that I can't do that again because it's dangerous.  Looks like I'm not going to be orienteering any time soon.
Another view from my run.
I have, however, convinced a few other members of the group to come running with me occasionally, so at least that won't be given up completely for the next two months.

I also spent some time talking to other members of the group about orienteering and there are a few of them that seem quite interested in trying it out.  I'm hoping that once we get to Port Alberni, BC, for the second part of the trip that we will have access to some maps and I can spend a day teaching orienteering to the nine other Canadians and the ten Vietnamese.

I am going to miss orienteering very much over the next couple of months, but I know that even just the occasional run or hike in the mountains will absolutely phenomenal!
The view from the Cultural House in the village. Don't you just want to running in those mountains?

It's quite typical to see water buffalo being herded down the street.
Orienteering is a wonderful sport!

Laura Teustch


  1. Sounds like an amazing experience Laura! Thanks for the post.