Sunday, July 22, 2012

Good Morning Vietnam

I think I have finally found a scenario for which my Soft Star Run Amocs are not suitable for running in.

It was so incredibly hot and humid when I set of for a run this morning around the West Lake in Hanoi that, apart from it being knackering, my feet (as well as the rest of me) got so sweaty that I was slipping around in my shoes. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem - even running on ice is quite possible as long as you don't have to make sudden changes of direction. In Vietnam the rule (if this is the appropriate word) seems to be that everyone should carry on going in the direction they are going in unless they can see that they are about to hit someone else, in which case they will stop or go around them. In cases when both parties can see each other and it is not clear who should take evasive action, there is a pecking order which appears to be based on the person who would come off worst from any collision making the first move. As a runner, this puts you above a pedestrian but below everyone else.

It became so dangerous to run in my shoes that I decided I would run home barefoot. You can imagine that one of the few ways to attract attention as a foreigner running barefoot around Hanoi is to be a foreigner running barefoot with bright red feet. This is the drawback of using natural dyes to give the shoes their distinctive red colour.

It is always important to study local customs beforehand and I was aware that spitting in public (as runners sometimes do) was considered to be antisocial, so I imagined that peeing in public wouldn't go down too well either. I found a park where, for some strange reason no one was walking and I very discretely let it out. I was just putting things away when I heard a whistle and saw a policemen waving frantically at me so I started running again (don't they say that this is a sure sign of guilt?) but he kept on blowing his whistle. It turned out that there was no one else around because no one was supposed to walk on the lawn in front of Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum. Given that many Vietnamese people queue up to see him (there was already a sizable queue at 7:30 am) and that he is considered something of a national hero having fended off the French and then the Americans, I could have ended up in a serious spot of bother had the policemen seen my indiscretion.

When I got back to the hotel I was faced with the dilemma of entering barefoot - which being a five star hotel, I didn't think would be appreciated - or to don my drenched shoes and hope they didn't make too much of a mess. Unfortunately, they did. If you ever find yourself in a hotel room with red footprints on the carpet, you'll know where they came from.

I just overheard one of the hotel guests saying to a friend, "Man, you should have seen it this morning. I got in the lift around 8 o clock this morning and there was all this blood everywhere. It was like a horror movie." I decided not to spoil his anecdote but he may have spotted my red feet in the swimming pool and put two and two together.

I just hope they manage to get the stains out of the carpet. I already admitted my guilt although it would have been hard to avoid it as I am literally red handed (and footed).

No comments:

Post a Comment