Sunday, February 17, 2008

Over Night Train to Lao Cai

I am honored to be a part of Racing the Planet, an extreme endurance race that spans 25oKMs over the course of five days. This year's race takes place throughout the lush terraced rice fields of northern Vietnam. Although I am not competing in the race myself, I am supporting three of my co-workers who are. My main responsibilities will be to document via photos, video, and podcast interviews of how technology is connecting people. Not only will the racers be connected to the Internet via a satelite downlink at each stage in the race but also the rural villagers themselves have enjoyed Internet access for over 10 months, thanks to a pilot program established by my company. It is these stories from the villagers themselves that I look the most forward to capturing.

The first step in preparing for the race was to begin making the journey from Hanoi, Vietnam, via an 8-hour over-night train to Lao Cai, which is in the extreme northern reaches of Vietnam. Lao Cai is so far north that directly across a small river lies the border with China. This northern most province is currently experiencing the coldest winter in over 40 years -- a new challenge for all of us who are taking part in Racing the Planet.

I boarded the train with three fellow volunteers as well as my co-worker Sean. The train compartments were cramped but comfortable and we enjoyed hopping from each others’ cabin to sit down and share stories of travel. Before the train pulled away from the station in Hanoi, Eric was able to purchase a 6-pack of beer from a platform vendor, ensuring that we had some rousingly good stories and also making us sleepy so we could drift off even while the train rocked back and forth.

I'm now looking forward to the start of this race on Monday and getting a chance to meet some truly fascinating individuals both from around the world and here in Vietnam. Stay tuned and check in throughout the race and see how things progress as we Race the Planet.


At 2:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see you back blogging....looking forward to the people and place stories to come from this trip :O)


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