running in Ubon.

Anyone who runs knows that you have to amuse yourself somehow on the longer routes. So I amuse myself with these anecdotes each morning. I give you:

The rules for running in Thailand (at UBU)

1. Run between 5 and 7 am. There’ll be less people to gawk at you. And the sun will already seem as bright as midday, though eerily slanted and dusty-veiled in the humidity. Do not be confused.  This isn’t actually 6 pm. It’s 6 am.

2. Embrace the rain. Cloudy mornings like this with a hint of breeze are absolutely divine, bringing the temperature down to a chill high 80’s F (30 C).

Humidity levels leave something to be desired, though.

3. Stretch at some point. Refer to these helpful illustrations when deciding your stretching regime.

Ten seconds before we start. Choose wisely.

4. Run with your mouth closed. (Sorry Mom and Dad.) It took a breathing specialist, multiple track and cross country coaches, and my parents shouting from the sidelines, “BREATHE JENNIFER!”  to get me to open my mouth when I ran. However, I revert to my younger self’s instincts here. After the first few mornings of swallowing bugs and gagging on spiderwebs, I decided I didn’t care for the taste. Therefore, forest paths will always be run with mouth clamped shut and nostrils flaring proudly in bad running form.

Forest path?

5. Speaking of forest paths, keep an eye out for floating glimmers of light. That spider worked hard on its net and you don’t want to be scraping impossibly strong web from your already sticky, sweaty visage. Still, webs strung up across the road like a finish line are not avoidable. So when going the road less traveled, eyes up, head down, and barrel through (and remember, mouth closed).

See the glimmer? Barrel through. (Mouth closed)


6. Always carry your camera. You never know what you’ll find on your explorations. And it makes running all these flat roads more interesting.

Camera, cleverly disguised as an iPhone


7. Learn how to hold, point, and shoot your camera.

This was supposed to be of something.

8. Beware the dogs that howl at you suspiciously.
*Addendum to rule 5, feel free to carry a rock instead of a camera.

That’s close enough.

9. Be happy for the dogs that just want to play.


10. Be careful of landlubber crabs.

En garde.


11. Ignore the stares of the moped riders.


Well if I’m ignoring them why would I take a picture?

12. Always smile at the guy who gives you a thumbs-up. Learn to use his encouragement.

It was a TWO thumbs-up sort of day!

13. Respect the lessons of the road. And heed the power of ants. Do not stretch next to them!

See the ants on his head? That’s why this picture is relevant. Sorry.

14. And probably don’t run down this tantalizingly mysterious road.

Its gates open as if only for me.

15. And don’t go poking around in other people’s spirit houses.

Even if you admire tiny furniture.

16. THE MOST IMPORTANT. Always be aware of the windmill. It will appear as if by design from all sorts of angles when you’re sure you’ve gone down a new road. This is your only compass in Thailand. Do not ignore its guidance.

So, take a deep breath of that muggy, golden air and enjoy the run.
Jennifer Shannahan

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