Day 445 – Myanmar 🇲🇲 to Laos 🇱🇦 via Thailand
A simple travel day today, taking me up to 219 flights.
I mentioned yesterday I’d update you all on my three sections of kit and gear I carry with me. Maybe some of you will find it useful. You can see a full list of gear on the website, along with sponsors and brands.
❗️ Camera gear 📷
Canon 5D Mark IV
24mm-105mm f4 lens
50mm f1.8 lens
100mm-400mm f4.5 lens
Go Pro 5, 6, 7
iPhone X, iPhone 7 Plus
Energizer Mobile H5505
Gorilla tripod, Manfrotto large tripod
40+ Sandisk 128gb memory cards
4x 5TB LaCie Rugged hard drive
❗️ Running gear 🏃♂️
Arch Max running belt
Do Sport Live shorts, vest, t-shirt
Various Pro Direct goodies
New Balance cap, Adidas cap
Adidas Ultra Boost trainers
Rehab and compression socks
Garmin Fenix 3 HR watch, Limited Edition Copper Spartan Suunto watch
Multi vitamins, Precision Hydration salt tablets, Juice Plus tablets
Small packets of peanuts
Gu salted caramel emergency gel
❗️ Travel gear ✈️
Running diary, daily diary
Large spare plastic bags
Emergency dollars, euros and pounds
4-plug extension cable, too many iPhone cables
2 world travel adapters, 2 USB travel adapters
Osprey Farpoint 40
Eastpack 120L suitcase
Emergency robust Energizer Mobile phone
Day 446 – Vientiane, Laos 🇱🇦 Marathon 127
Today went a bit like this:
️ 05:00 alarm, spring out of bed (or crawl, with eyes closed)
️ 05:15 start, wait for local runner Carlos to arrive at hotel
️ Carlos doesn’t arrive
️ Start running
️ Double back to check Carlos hasn’t appeared later
️ He hasn’t
️ Run along river front looking out to Thailand
️ 20 minutes later Carlos catches me up (on a moped)
️ Carlos dumps moped
️ Carlos runs with me all the way
️ Reach Buddha Park 28km away
️ Turn around and run back
️ Late for Embassy meeting at 11:00
️ Embassy photos under finish line arch
️ Meet Embassy team at Embassy
️ Photos with the great campaign Tuk-Tuk
️ Lunch with Embassy staff, still sweaty (me, not them)
️ Admin for 4 hours
️ Out to dinner at amazing Pakistani restaurant
️ Watch live music in bar
️ Arrive back at 01:10
️ Pack for early start tomorrow, sightseeing
️ Type this post
️ Sleep at 02:00
️ Alarm at 02:50 for 03:00 taxi
A big thanks to Carlos and the staff at the British Embassy. Carlos deserves a medal for everything he’s doing with the local community and the youth development programmes – a totally selfless guy, and a pleasure to run with. We stopped for water and ice cream, most of which he treated me to, and after catching me up on the moped this morning, he made the run so much more enjoyable – dusty roads, cows crossing, dogs barking and the heat of the sun slowly cooking us as we progressed to the finish line. I hope that the freshly launched 196 Foundation will be able to work with Carlos, the British Embassy and local support to help the country and its young people. Carlos also planted a seed for a run from the north of the country to the south – about 1,000 miles. Maybe I’ll add this to my list for the future.
It’s now time for sleep – only an hour or so before a long day photographing the country.
Day 447 – Laos 🇱🇦
Hot air, and climbing to new heights.
I had managed to doze off after yesterday’s busy day at about 2 this morning, which gave me about an hour of sleep before a pre-booked taxi to Vang Vieng at 3am.
The driver woke me up at about 6.15am. We were parked in a huge, empty, dirt car park in the centre. The light was still dim and the sun hadn’t fully woken up.
In the distance there were two hot air balloons taking off, and so I went to take some photos. To my surprise they still had some places available and I asked to join. They agreed, and for a fraction of the cost of any other balloon ride I’d seen.
The fiery roar of the two huge burners just above my head were intense, hot and loud; the heat and the noise made me jump every time. We nervously bundled into the basket, and before we knew it, we were no longer on the ground. The elegance of the balloon as it lifted into the sky was captivating. The people, cars and buildings shrank, and the mountains grew closer as we passed through the thin layer of hazy clouds to reveal the wonders of Laos below. The view over this region was beautiful. The small dot of another balloon in the valley floor below put the scale of this place into perspective. Gentle, elegant and calm. What a great yet completely mad way to travel.
As we came into land after a 40-minute flight we missed our landing spot and were being pulled into some houses below. The landing aborted, we climbed again, and instead settled down in a local dirt park. The ground team did a great job, so much so that we didn’t even feel the ground meet the basket.
Next stop was a hike to the highest accessible viewpoint in the area. This turned out to be steeper than I’d imagined, and by the time I’d scrambled to the top I was covered in sweat from head to toe. After a slow descent on muddy, slippery terrain we visited a cave and then on to a lagoon. Lunch, a nap in the shade in a hammock, and then the drive back.
Day 448 – Laos 🇱🇦 to Vietnam 🇻🇳 and on to Taiwan 🇹🇼
As of today, every Saturday I’ll be posting two important details – the number of days until I finish, and the total value of donations raised through JustGiving. We have had some very kind chunks of donations come in offline and given directly to Prostate Cancer UK all throughout the trip, which have been a little hard to track, but from now on, every Saturday, we’ll be totalling up the JustGiving donations.
Days till I complete the world – T–225 DAYS – final marathon, Athens, Greece, 10th November 2019. If you’re interested in running with me, or being in Athens for the final celebration, please comment.
JustGiving donations – £23,466 raised out of the target £250,000 – £226,534 still remaining… Please donate using the link in my bio. Or just search ‘NICK BUTTER JUSTGIVING’. This money will go to support a national screening campaign in the UK to allow quick, free and simple screening for prostate cancer nationally. Please help me stop other men like my good friend Kev from dying.
A simple travel day today and a big thank you to La Seine Hotel in Laos. The staff have been looking after me so well over the last few days, and the hotel is stunning and perfectly located. Check them out. Thanks, people.
I ran out of space yesterday to tell you about my final hoorah in the city. My unexpected treat was being asked to speak to a local youth running club in their stadium. The stadium lights were soon to turn off and the ground shut down, but we had time for a quick lap of the track and then a chat sat in a circle on the floor. Great people, and all thanks to Carlos for organising. I will be back to see you all again.
Day 449 – Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 Marathon 128
Are you a wanderer? It’s bloody brilliant, and today was another example of the benefits of exploring a new city by foot. You get to see so much plodding along, getting lost. The more I run, the more I don’t care about the route. Just enjoy adventuring, that’s what I say.
Being on the road for so long is strange. Currently 64 weeks into my 96-week journey to be the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world. Although the end gets closer, the beginning feels so far behind, and with that the pressure builds. Just like my first marathon in Toronto in –25°C I had been waiting to the start line for so long; just like now, the finish line is only 68 countries away. Seems a lot, and I suppose it is, but boy, it feels close. I can smell it.
Today was a full day. A good friend, Andy, who has supported the journey and accompanied me on 13 marathons already, made today number 14. It was warm for him, but only averagely warm for me. The countries are getting colder. It’s no longer 40°C+; instead it’s down to around 29°C.
Dani, aka the legendary laid-back king of the sauna and general beer hound, also risked death by heart attack and accompanied us for 10km. Joking aside, I’m hugely grateful and actually very proud he came along for a ‘jolly’. Needless to say, Dani, you were sweating a little more than us. A brilliant run.
🏧 Please support my journey by donating just £5 to Prostate Cancer UK via my JustGiving page. I hope to reach £250,000 by the time I cross the finish line in Athens, Greece. Thank you for your continuing support.
Day 450 – Taiwan 🇹🇼, rest day
Today was a slow, chilled day, but with one main objective – to find warm clothes. In my haste to pack for the warm countries on this leg of the journey I had forgotten to pack for the –15°C which is coming up in a few days’ time in Mongolia. The ‘Stan’ counties are also opening this leg of the journey and will be even colder at times. So today was about getting kitted out. After scouring the shopping malls and spending money I don’t have, I came away with a fancy new jacket. The rest of the day was spent sleeping and eating. Lovely stuff.
The hotel we are staying in, although grand, is pretty crap in virtually every aspect. The Taiwanese rules and unnecessary processes seem just plain dumb to me.
The Grand Hotel, is indeed, very grand – a huge lobby with flowers and a large staircase. The good bits end there. For £100 a night this place is just not worth it. Nothing is included, breakfast closes early, the staff aren’t helpful, and the rooms are tiny. The swimming pool is actually a decent Olympic-size pool, but detached from the main building and very cold, plus it’s chargeable. Above all, their lovely grand piano in the lobby was under lock and key and they wouldn’t allow me to play it. I’m no professional, but no piano should be locked away. I’ve seen so many lovely hotels ruined by sticking a big padlock on the piano. I am ranting. It’s been one of those days. Tomorrow we travel to Seoul to complete Korea.
Reminder – final marathon and final country – Athens, Greece, November 10th 2019. If you’d like to come along and run or just support, please let me know. Leave a comment.
TEXT TO DONATE – Text NRTW89 £5 to 70070.
❌ Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
❌ Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that’s 129 men every day.
❌ Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer – that’s more than 11,000 men every year.
❌ 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
❌ Over 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.
DAY 451 – Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 to Seoul, South Korea 🇰🇷
Oops, oops and oops 🙈
The closest I’ve come to missing a flight so far. Dani and Andy decided to go out last night. Need I say more? At 4.30am they shuffled back into their rooms and the snoring commenced. At 6.30am my alarm sounded. Snooze, followed by another snooze, only gave us just enough time to reach the airport. Little did I know that Dani (who I’m sharing a room with) was out cold and dead to the world, and not in a great state to start packing. Andy, however, was the ultimate culprit because while we were packing in a mad panic and expecting him to knock on the door at any moment, he was still fast asleep, and not packed. The lesson for today: being teetotal has more than just health benefits. I’m nearly two years with no booze now…
After knocking on the door and Andy answering in his pants still tipsy and mostly asleep, we gathered our things in a haze of confusion (me, the youngest of the three, acting as the adult to two giggly and sleepy children).
The second mistake came when we realised that the airport was, in fact, 45 minutes away and not 10 minutes, which we had been told on arrival at this dreadful hotel. Obviously this was our mistake, and it turned out that there were two international airports in the vicinity. Ours was the furthest. Lesson learned. Credit to the driver for wheel squealing around each corner to get us to the airport with minutes to spare.
The final error came when the check-in girl couldn’t find any trace of Dani’s flight. This was because he wasn’t on our flight. By pure luck his flight was leaving at a similar time, but with a different airline. And all this before breakfast. We eventually boarded without further issue, but it felt rather tense.
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