After a day of trail running, I went outside the bamboo house in Lahu village to see the first sunlight and to get some fresh air. I immediately found myself in a warm hug of awakening nature and looked around. My jaw dropped immediately and I held my breath. The abundance of changing colour palettes in front of me had a hypnotising effect. The mountain forest surrounding the village was filled with giant pine trees, mixed with the bright chartreuse green leaves and intense bluish foliage plants. I spotted a tiny river flowing between two mountains covered with mist and tried to guess the distance between us.
Then I looked down at my feet and found multiple blisters, all competing with each other to grow bigger and faster, while three of my toenails slowly blackened only to later detach themselves. Trail running had taken its toll. I shrugged and kept looking at the forest. There I stood at 5 am in the morning, fully awake and smiling, accompanied by the birds and the village roosters. A simple thought made me smile harder. Why would I even care about those blisters and toenails? Shouldn’t it be normal after trail running in the beautiful mountains for the entire day? As a reward, I had my bamboo house with the stunning view, I had my singing roosters and complex scents of the flowers and plants nearby, so perfect to be a normal morning.
Nothing of it looked like my usual morning indeed, rather quite the opposite. My morning would usually start with a sprint for the Hong Kong MTR, only to get stuck behind the slow walking people. They occasionally stepped on my feet but not enough to cause blisters. I never really had the time and energy to meditate or stay outside my tiny apartment, barefoot and smiling. The last time I saw a rooster was during the Chinese New Year.
I’ve immersed myself in big cities ever since I left home, a place in the Ural Mountains, and couldn’t imagine living this close to nature anytime soon. But last year I moved to Hong Kong and changed my concept of big city living. With the World’s highest land prices, Hong Kong has something majestic and free for everyone: the abundance of hiking and opportunities for trail running all over its territory. Many of them are only two to three MTR stops away no matter where you are! I couldn’t refuse such a generous gift and very quickly started exploring those scenic trails for fitness and fun.
And then I went on a three-day trail running retreat to Thailand, with complete strangers, all of them experienced Hong Kong and Singapore runners. I’m pretty sure it was one of the most illogical and insane decisions I’ve made this year. The closer the trip was, the more nervous I got, waking up from nightmares. The scenes of being lost, devastated and injured became my normal dreams but, luckily, never a reality. That morning in Lahu was the first time I’d awoken without having had any dreams at all. I was well rested and ready for the upcoming day, full of new challenges, new surprises and more scenic views.
No, it wasn’t all as sweet and fun as it might sound. There were moments when I was thinking: “Why am I doing this to myself?”. And the best answer was to keep on moving and appreciating nature for every large and small masterpiece it created for us along the way. Jumping like a mountain goat, climbing up and down, falling and running again. Isn’t it the best way to reconnect with our true selves? To stretch our limits? And to get that inner strength that we need to keep on moving in our ‘real’ life? I wasn’t properly prepared for that trail running trip, to my liking at least… but is there any time when we feel well prepared for the things that happen in our life? As long as we listen to ourselves and take a full responsibility over our decisions, there should be no physical barriers, no excuses to run towards our dreams.
That morning in Lahu village, I fully reconnected with my true self, a girl who was born and raised in the mountains, remaining a part of them in every corner of the World.