Runs around the world #11

Bangkok, Thailand

First things first. Bangkok isn’t any less hot and humid than Hong Kong. Ok, well, maybe a teeny tiny bit. But not much. Second, night time temperatures are not that much different to day time ones. Which means any run is going to be on the warm side. But, well, I’m used to it now. Aren’t I?

Either way, I haven’t got a choice. If I want to run, I have to run. After a quick internet search and conversations with a few people, I’d been pointed towards Lumphini Park as a good place to run in Bangkok. A park with large open spaces and paths around the outside totalling 2.5km, it was an obvious choice for either a morning or evening run. I chose evening. I’ve mainly been running in the morning so wanted to mix it up a bit, and decided to go at about 7pm. Technically I figured it might be at least one or two degrees cooler. So, I hopped on the sky train and hopped off at the park.

There’s some kind of protest going on there at the moment although I’m not sure exactly what it’s about as all the banners and speeches and things are all in Thai. Something about justice though. I weaved my way through all the people gathered at the main gates listening to some speeches and music on a big stage and started my run, alongside other joggers. Following the path round the outside of the park, the first thing I noticed was that it was flat. No hills here. This was welcome.

I didn’t have a set distance in mind, but wanted to do at least 4 miles. I knew I could still run 6 miles after Hong Kong, so knocking out a 10K was probably an unconscious goal. I kept to a nice and steady pace, which back in the UK I’d consider slow, and actually would have struggled to run at (around 10 mins/mile). It still frustrates me that I’m running so slow, but, I know that it’s because it’s hot and I’m not as fit as I was. Dammit. And I still overtook some people, so I guess I’m not that slow.

As runs go, it was good. I managed to do 6 miles in total. The park was pretty at night, especially the reflections of the skyscrapers on the lake. There were many other joggers, including other westerners. I felt like part of a bit of an exclusive club. My legs generally felt good (although they started to get a bit tired at about 5 miles) and I guess I’d sum it up as a nice, easy jog with no major dramas. A very sweaty, nice easy jog. When humidity is high, it’s a bit like running in a steam room. The sweat just pours off. In some ways I quite like this; it feels like you’re actually doing something. Someone I know once said to me about running and exercise “if you’re not sweating with snot coming out your nose and feeling like you’re about to die then there’s no point in doing it”. And he’s got a point. And if you care what people think, then you’re screwed from the get go. The whole point of exercise is to get your body working. To push it. To keep going. Not to worry about what you look like or what other people think of you.

But, being sweaty doesn’t help your money stay in your pocket. At some point near the end when I pulled a wet, sweaty iphone out my arm holder to check my distance, I also pulled out the only money (a 100 baht note) I had on me. Unfortunately I didn’t notice, but luckily for me, a park ranger did, and cycled back after me to give it back. I could have kissed him; that was the only money I had to buy some much-needed water and food after my run. That water and the boiled egg off the man on the street never tasted so good.

I enjoyed that run so much I went back the next night to do it all over again. Only the next time I only ran 4.5 miles, and the boiled egg was replaced with the most amazing rice-chilli pork-fried egg combo street food. That meal, my friends, was one of the best meals I have had. Whether it’s because it was after a run or whether it was just mega tasty, I don’t know. And I don’t care.

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Technology and travelling.

Over the last few days I’ve been pondering about travelling and technology. How interlinked they are. Do we need technology to travel?

Obviously, most tech that people use while travelling has only been around for a short while, but people have been travelling for years. So what did they used to do? How did they do it? That’s a question I asked myself. Because, I don’t know. I don’t think I could. In the short time I’ve been travelling, I’ve relied on my technology a HUGE amount. For all kinds of different reasons; booking accommodation and transport, keeping in touch with people,   entertainment, checking the weather, finding out things to do, places to go, where to eat, whether I’m in the right place, and so on. Now, OK, I’ve not used it for everything. There’s been many a time over the last few weeks that I’ve looked at a paper map, or asked people where I need to go, or what to do, or read things in a book.

The few days I had in Shimla were [mainly] without internet access. I admit, I felt weird. Disconnected. Out of the loop. Unable to just check things. Cut off.

Surely this is crazy? Surely being ‘connected’ with the world through the internet can mean that actually you’re not ‘connected’ with the place you’re in? I’m conflicted on this. On one hand, yes. I know myself that I can miss things in the moment because of a need to see what’s going on elsewhere, and I have to remind myself to bring myself back to where I am. And concentrate. I know I made more of an effort with this in the UK in the few months before I left. Such as, leaving my phone in my bag if I was out for a meal with a friend, that kind of thing.

But, on the other hand, I like to share stuff. I like that people share things with me. I’m nosy, I like to see what people are up to, share in their good times, be a part of their lives and marvel at all the cool things that are going on. My mates are one of the most important things to me and I want to keep in touch with them. I’m away from a year; I can’t go without speaking or communicating in some way with all my friends and family. Would you want to?

I’ve met people while I’ve been away who aren’t travelling with any technology. But, they admit to having to use internet cafes to source and book things like accommodation and transport. I’ve met people who have been travelling over the last 30+ years and told me about how they would keep in touch (or not, much was the case) years ago while on the road.

I’m also using technology to branch out into things I don’t normally do. To make contacts with people all across the world, some of who in countries I will be visiting. To start building networks. To contribute to projects. To perhaps start building a new career. Maybe even start applying for jobs. And of course, to keep you, my family and friends, updated. I do, naturally, recognise the irony of sitting typing this on my laptop.

So, for me, technology while travelling is really important. And no, I couldn’t travel without it. But, I am going to try to make sure I really immerse myself in the places I visit and the things I do and the experiences I have, and live in the moment. Use technology where it should be used. Hopefully the weird, disconnected feeling with reduce with time and I’ll get used to not being connected 24/7. If one of my plans pans out, I may be spending 10 days in the very near future without access to anything. Perhaps that will be the ultimate test!


TPAD. It didn’t last long.

Well, it’s official. My travel photo a day is no more. It’s just not going to work. It’s too difficult to keep on top of while I’m out here. I can’t upload my photos easily, I have photos on both my phone and my camera, and I don’t always have time to write about each one, and blog as well. It was getting WAY too confusing!

And also, I have to say, I have fond memories of my Photo a Day for 2012 and doing it again (albeit for a different purpose) just wasn’t the same. In fact, it was almost tarring my great memories of last year’s project and why I did it.

So, after realising I hadn’t taken any pictures for a couple of days, I realised it was nail in the coffin time for TPAD. Already. I know, I know, I’m a bit disappointed in myself. But, I’ve decided I’m just going to blog and post as many pictures as I can on here, and then put pictures on Facebook when I can. I might look at something like Flickr or some other online photo account and post a link but I haven’t got time at the moment to look into it. Well, I’ve got a year so it will give me something to do at some point.

So, many apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it. But, I hope the blog and what pictures I can post here will be enough. And don’t worry, when I get back you can always sit through the whole year’s worth of pictures in one go with me providing running commentary…. No? I’ll bring cake. No? Beer? No? Oh. Ok then.

Travel goodies.

I’ve been given a few presents for my travels recently by my pals. Really thoughtful ones. One was a fully loaded ready-to-go tram card for Melbourne so I can have fun riding around on the trams of the city (thanks Moz). I got a notepad and pens from Jane to write in (in case I didn’t have wifi or battery on my laptop and wanted to write). And the last was ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ by Enid Blyton from Nick today. He was given it by a friend of his to read when he went on his travels. He read it on a beach in Goa and has written in the front of the book. The condition of me having it was that I have to write in the front and then pass it on to someone else on their travels. Hopefully it will make it’s way around the world. I’m going to save it to read when I’m near a beach I think. It just wouldn’t feel right reading about an island not near water. And then find someone to pass it onto that would keep it going.

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Meeting with Nick today, that book and Film Club tonight has made me think about my travels a bit. It’s not long until I go, but I’m sure you already know that. I probably mention it enough. Sorry, but it’s pretty much mostly what my time is taken up with although I do a good job at procrastinating and not actually thinking or doing anything I need to do until the last minute. But, I digress.

I was thinking about some things that I’m looking forward to. I mean, there’s hundreds of things really, but these are a few little things I’ve remembered that I’ve thought about in the last day or so (hundreds of things CANNOT stay in my brain all at the same time; I have the concentration span of a pea).

#1: Running whenever I want. Like, in the daytime rather than after work or first thing before work (although to be fair, I’ve only done that once this year so that’s not so valid). It will be like a weekend every day. I can choose when to go. YAY! Might not sound like a lot, but it will make a big difference. Imagine not having to plan stuff around 9-5 Monday to Friday. All that time to play with. Frickin’ awesome. I’ve also been following something called Write This Run on twitter. I know I’m not strictly a running blogger but I would have loved to have gone but I couldn’t. Next year. When I’m back in the UK, I’m in. I’m really fired up at the minute for my running. I’m enjoying it big style. So while I’m away not only am I going to to do my Runs Around the World but I’m also going to try and find other runners or running clubs. Run with as many people as I can. Enter races if I can. See what worldwide running is like. SO EXCITED.

#2: Hangouts with Film Club. We tried a google hangout tonight. Donna and Karl on their tablets and me on my phone (Sharron can’t join in until she gets her new phone. We made her sit in the corner and face the wall. Not really.). OK, so we were all in the same room. But still. Oh, actually, Karl went into the kitchen for pizza cam. So still all in the same house. But it worked and so we all know what to do when I’m away. We are SO going to still have Film Club throughout the year. They cannot escape my talking through films and stupid questions. Muhahahaha.

#3: Throwing most of my work clothes away. Most of them are knackered but there was no point in getting new stuff because I’m off. So I look like a tramp most days but I can live with that. Pretty much everything apart from a pair of trousers and one jumper is going. Corporate work-smartish clothes, and by extension, corporate work life, be gone! Hello unemployed travelling hobo life 😀

Fucking hell. I can’t wait.