|Natalie Beach Resort, where I am staying|
Four bikes were hired for a 18km journey to a more pleasant beach up the coast, as the one at our resort was strewn with litter and no good for swimming or sunbathing. My driver was John, a fellow Englishman from Morecambe, who had studied in Newcastle and has lived in Saigon for the past eight years, where he has made his living as a furniture designer. He will be running the full half marathon tomorrow. The ride was good fun and I felt more comfortable on the bike than I'd expected to. John drove carefully and not too fast so I felt relatively safe. The view along the journey was very nice and I was sorry I couldn't get any pictures of the peachy red sand dunes and pretty scenes of fishing boats that we passed. Our destination was Jibes, a beach shop and restaurant with a beautiful beach front bar, where we had lunch. The place was very chilled, with almost no other people around besides staff. Several in the group had work to do so we relaxed around the table engaged in our own activities, and I wrote in my notebook. After lunch I went for a swim in the sea, which was a little chilly but refreshing.
|The beach at Jibes|
|L-R: Me, Shoko, Greg, Vincent, John, Daniel|
We stayed at Jibes until the sun began to set, the clouds over the sea turning to deep shades of blue. On the dark ride home we followed the newly-built track that we will be running along tomorrow. It's a hilly route, and so open that there will be no shade from the heat, which will be significant even at 7am when the race starts. Although my 5km is meagre next to the 21km some are doing, I think it will be challenging for me in this climate. I have no interest in being competitive, I'll take it easy and complete the course in my own time to avoid dehydration or heat stroke. I have been pre-warned by Jessica not too rush it. Before she left, she told me "Don't try to be number one. If you come back and say, 'Jessica, Jessica, I was number one!', I will not be happy." And I won't argue with that.
After returning to the hotel it was a quick turn around, as we had to get to the Sea Links hotel before registration for tomorrow's race closed. I handed over a hefty 580,000 dong to register for the 5km, and then the group went out for a pre-race meal at an Italian restaurant to stock up on carbs and salt, as personal trainer Greg had advised. It has been a lovely day and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to come here. It certainly feels like more like a holiday than challenging journalistic work! But the real work will start tomorrow, 7am from the Sea Links hotel...