You gotta get up early to get a run in in Ho Chi Minh City. So by 6am we headed out onto the Vietnamese capital’s streets, hoping to avoid the day’s heat and the city’s mad traffic.
The city is full of a French colonial past. Saigon was captured by the French in 1859 and was under their rule until 1954. During their century’s stay, the French constructed wide boulevards and tree-lined streets littered with impressive neoclassical buildings. Thankfully, they also left the country fresh baguettes and great coffee for perfect post-run breakfasts.
Our morning run first took in the Opera House, then on down Le Loi Street towards the already busy Ben Thanh Market.
From there, we did a couple of loops of the 23/9 park hiding from the mounting heat under patches of cool tree shade. Many of the locals had a similar idea and were out for their regular morning exercise. There were elderly women doing sets of slow stretching exercises, whilst the younger generation seemed oddly enamoured with playing badminton on the park’s paths.
The Street Nguyen Thai Hoc cuts through the park we were encircling. With each loop of the park, we had to cross over this road, and with each passing minute, more and more motorbikes seemed to flood into this section. Crossing the city’s streets is an exercise in timing and skill, each step needing to be done resolutely at an even pace so that motorbikes can swerve and swarm around you. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
By 7am, the heat was mounting and the sweat was already streaming, so we decided to call it a day. We sauntered back home via the Hotel de Ville, now the home of the Ho Chi Minh People’s Committee.
The day starts early for everyone in Ho Chi Minh, not just for runners. Even by 7am, the shops and street vendors were already starting to sell their wares. Everything from Vietnamese style T-Shirts…
To top of the line international chic…
Ho Chi Minh really is a bustling, happening city. Hopefully though, we’ll get a chance to pop out of the city soon and have a bit of run around the surrounding countryside: I hear there is less chance of getting knocked over by motorbikes there!