Doug and I have the same passion, keeping fit. We are not talking about hard core athletic prowess or winning races but it’s about keeping a sustainable lifestyle of being fit and in return enjoy the activities we love to do. We are both in an age where changes occur and aging is a continuous process in life. Yes, there are many changes that happen after the mid-40’s, physically and mentally which affects emotions. So far, we are grateful to be healthy to travel but it’s also hard work to keep such a lifestyle. No amount of money or material possessions or even a perfect career can replace good health.
We don’t have a problem of getting up at 4am to get ready to race a 30K or 50K and be running for 4-6 hours. Waking up and getting out to run or go to the gym to workout is a habit hard to break. We are always motivated to trek or hike up mountains for 3-4 hours because we love the mountains. We get excited to race whether it’s cycling or trail running. We enjoy training for fitness goals we come up with during our travels.
Our life have become, sleep-eat-train-eat-sleep…repeat. In between, we explore places.
We can’t wait to head back to Leh, India and train in high altitude. We also, can’t wait to return to Chamonix which in my opinion is a playground for climbers, hikers, runners and many more. These two places are places we like to return to every year.
We discovered that Thailand has a good gym close to the old city and we signed up for a month’s membership to keep training. It feels good to have a gym close by to workout. We are now exploring some gyms available in Ho Chi Minh City and since we aren’t going for a long there month long trek in Nepal next year, we have to find a substitute.
The earliest time we would want to go back to Leh, India would be around May and it will still be a bit cool at 11,800 ft. The last time we were there at the end of April, we rode our mountain bikes above 12,000 ft with snow flurries and it was very cold on the descent. We lived in Leh, India until the end of July then headed to the French Alps. The French Alps is on it’s winter season right now. Luckily, with a 3 month visa in India and 3 months exempt visa to Europe, we are able to lock down our destination from May through mid-October in 2016.
South East Asia’s trail system is not really easy to figure out. Most of the trails in the mountains are dirt roads villages use to move from one place to another. Some are used for vehicles to get to the villages. It’s not marked and most of the time would be bushwhacking through the jungle. The other challenge is the heat. There won’t be much access to water so going for long runs or treks would require packing enough hydration. This is how it is in Thailand and I would imagine in Vietnam as well. Trail running is growing tremendously in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore but those places are beyond our travel budgets right now. Hong Kong have many islands and it also costs a lot to find good lodging.
Honestly, if we can get 6 months visa for Europe there is no question that we would live in the French Alps for 6 months of the year. In Ladakh, India or in Leh there is only a short window of good trekking weather which is from June through early September.
Clearly, we want to stay in places where we can train.
Why? You might ask.
This is our life. This is how we started our life together. This is how we want our life to be.
We want to maximize the time we have to keep doing what we love to do.
Going back to Thailand and Vietnam, it’s a bit challenging. We’ve signed up for a half marathon in Ho Chi Minh City because we already had planned to go to Vietnam. We purchased a plane ticket months ago. The question is, where in Vietnam? We will have about 4-5 months in Vietnam and will have to extend our visa because we only get 3 months at a time. Vietnam is a country that is much more accepting to tourists to their country and we can stay in Vietnam 3 months, go out of the country 24 hours then get back in with another 3 months visa. Compared to Thailand, Vietnam is a good deal. We could always go back to Thailand as a visa run but it will cost us a plane ticket and lodging to do that. More on visa run plans later…
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We found a really nice gym in District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon Sports Club is a gym we are looking for and would meet our needs to get fitter. There is Star Fitness Bitexco about 2-3 miles from Saigon Sports Club which offers similar classes but both have good reviews. Earlier this year, we got to experience a Muay Thai Training Camp in Pai, Thailand and we really loved it. It was invigorating but really hard work. We like that. In our short experience and also overdoing ourselves the first few sessions we would love to do something similar because it really does make a huge difference in feeling like a good workout! It’s also fun doing it together.
Clearly, we love that type of training because while here in Chiang Mai we’ve gone to 8 Body Combat classes in just 3 weeks. As a couple, we did it together and it’s something we love to do together.
Saigon Sports Club and Star Fitness Bitexco offer just that, training for strength and conditioning like a fighter for fitness. We don’t have a goal of fighting, we just like how it keeps us fit and strong. The sessions of Body Combat and some of the HIIT sessions I did on the treadmill really helped on my 30km trail run race. We didn’t get to run outdoors to prepare for it but my joints felt so much better than the other races in the past. Yes, my running muscles were sore but it’s a normal sore which cleared about three days later. I felt strong and very stable in my run on the trails. I really like that feeling.
It will be a good preparation for our bodies before we head up to higher altitude in Ladakh, India then focus on trekking and running more there. District 7 is also a newer part of Ho Chi Minh and there is a running club that meets up in the same district a few times a week. The HCMC Run, the race we signed up for also starts there. Once we get settled in HCMC, we would learn more about what the city offers for us.
If we can find a place to stay like an affordable apartment close to a good gym, that would be a good start.