giovedì 26 dicembre 2013

sabato 18 maggio 2013

Road to Boston

I'm shipping up to Boston. To find my wooden leg.

One month ago I was in Singapore. It was 3 in the morning and couldn't sleep. I opened randomly an Italian news website, and got the news.

A bomb at the Boston Marathon. At the arrival.

Who hasn't seen or run a marathon cannot understand. The arrival of a marathon is a sacred moment.

The father of Martin, one of the victims, probably had waken up at 5 am, four times a week, for the previous 6 months. Or maybe had sacrificed moments with his family. Everything to run for 42k 195m. To finish a 4h and something run. To see his son and his wife, proud of him.

The bombing did not just kill people. It was a terrorist attack. They attacked our world, the runners' world.

They told every Martin's father "do not run a marathon, do not bring your beloved ones with you".

My first thought was "we shall overcome". We shall overcome because we are soldiers.

The first marathon man was a soldier, announcing the defeat of the enemies. The war is over.

We, now, we are soldiers of peace. We announce our joy to the world. The relief of struggling, fighting, and reaching our goal.

Our joy is in the overcome of the pain. In the arrival which closes our journey. Our joy is in those who came to see us. Those who are just there and look at us like aliens.

I decided to run a marathon the day of the bombing. I'm going to Buffalo next weekend.

Today I'm in Boston. I had to come here and leave a flower. It's May 18, 2013, and I am visiting Boston to talk about my future.

My next future is the Buffalo marathon. Because we shall overcome.

mercoledì 1 maggio 2013

Lombok-Gili: Finding Nemo

It is so hard to fish in Gili Trawangan.

I spent two days bargaining for a decent price.

The first day I got prices and conditions I wanted. It turned out to be a scam. The guy took my money and went back to Lombok mainland.

I got my money back from the thief's friends, those who introduced the thief to me. Money and complimentary mask and fin for a day (you do not mess with Sicilians). But I was back to square one.

The second day, I found again price and conditions I wanted. And no upfront payment this time. Dealt straight with the owner of the boat, no agencies. The day after the fisherman chickened out. Someone told him he was mad to accept that price, tourists usually pay much more. He got nothing.

That was so sad, because I really wanted to fish Nemo.

Gili Trawangan is the biggest of the Gili Islands, three small rounded pieces of land lying in the sea at northwest of Lombok. They are surrounded by coral reefs, which make them perfect for surfing, diving and snorkeling. And fishing of course.

They were the flattest piece of land my friend and I could find in Indonesia. Perfect to recover after Mount Rinjani (see previous post).

Five days four nights of tough relax. The first day we lied on the beach all day and celebrated fullmoon at night: our homestay offered free flow of fried and grilled fish, with palm wine as drink.

The second day we lied on the beach all day. No fullmoon to celebrate.

The third day we went snorkeling around the three islands. We found Nemo, but I could not eat him. So sad.

The fourth day we lied on the beach all day.

Someone may find strange that we lied on the beach all day. But that is what you usually do in Gili. You lie on the beach all day.

The fourth day was special, though. A horse landed on our beach from the sea. Such a special day.

I decided to add some spice to all this lying on the beach all day.

52k run in three days. 7k fast, 30k slow split between sunrise and sunset, 15k interval training. Everything thanks to the proteins of the friends of our friend Nemo. I could not fish him but at least I could have other kinds of fish for lunch and dinner. Barracuda included.

The fifth day I left to Kuta, Bali. A journey called nightmare. A nightmare called Indonesia. Traffic jam, scams, stoned backpackers, greedy car drivers. Everything awful of this beautiful country squeezed in 11 hours of cars and boats.

Lucky them, I was so relaxed.

venerdì 26 aprile 2013

Lombok-Rinjani: Fighting my Volcano

"Why are you climbing Rinjani?"
"To see the real Bali"
(A guy we met on the way up)

[First Part: Reaching the Summit]

You do not want to wake up at 5.50 am while you are on holiday. Unless you know that your base camp is 9 hour far from your hotel.

We had an energetic breakfast. Banana pancake, banana and pineapple.

At 7, after the last briefing we sit in the pickup, thrilled about our new adventure. I slept for the following hour.

A very last briefing about how not to fall in the crater and we are ready to go.

We had one guide and two porters. Straight from colonialism to the XXI century. We had to carry only our personal things. Everything else, from stoves to camping chairs, was on the porters' shoulders.

Yes, we had chairs.

We left at 1000m above the sea. By the end of the day we were at 2700m above the sea. One long way up.

Now, those who have read "The Freaking Volcano" here on Piovono Runners already know that height scares my ass off.

I love mountaineering, just it would be better if mountains were flat.

So why do you climb volcanos? Someone may ask. Well, first for the fatigue. The work out. The sense of completeness you experience when every little part of your body hurts.

Second, the challenge. We will see who wins the fight, if the scared man or the scaring volcano!

When my friend and I decided to climb Mount Rinjani, we knew what we were going to face. She is not super fit for climbing. As for me, my body is fit. Just the mind does not follow (or lead).

To challenge ourselves, and to see paradise (see pictures below) we agreed to went through hell. Four days, three nights of climbing and camping. At least we had de luxe service. Which means we had chairs.

When we reached the top, the very first day at 6 pm, paradise was there, before our eyes.

Segara Anak Lake, 2000m above the sea, the huge crater of Mount Rinjani.  Astonishing it's view from 2700m above the sea, where we were. You just pass the rim of the volcano and the crater with the lake is there.

We just passed the rim and I started freaking  out. We camped on the rim, our chairs facing the lake. Dinner and quickly to sleep at 8 pm. At 2 am we had to wake up and start the further climbing up to 3726m: the summit.

When the alarm rang I was awake. Smoked two cigarettes to relax. Had breakfast. Started the climbing.

The moon was almost full and enlightened everything: our trail, the summit above, the crater below. 5 minutes of walking and the trail has a hole. I needed to do just one long step to overcome it. Easy for everyone. If it weren't for the 800m jump on the right.

I had to take a quick decision. Seven hours of that mental pain to reach a summit from where I will not be able to see anything? Or I go back to sleep?

Under my request our guide shouted at one of the porters. And the porter came to pick me up.

I was shaking when we reached the tent. But sure about one thing: I quit, I will not move forward. I take a porter and go back to the hotel.

[Second Part: Decisions]

My friend showed up at 4am. She also could not make it. What the guide did not tell us was that 2/3 of the climbing was on the sand. Two steps forward, one step backward.

She had to take a quick decision. Seven hours of that physical pain to reach the summit? Or go back to sleep?

We skipped the sunrise and slept until 8. We had our second breakfast and I explained the guide my decision.

The second day we were supposed to camp by the lake. To go down from 2700 to 2000m above the sea, along the steep wall of the crater. The third day all the way up to the other side. Two days of hiking facing the void. I could not make it. I had to go back.

He understood. But immediately clarified it was my decision, my fault, and I had to pay for that decision.

A car had to pick me and the porter up at Sembalung, and I had to pay the accommodation for the extra days in Senaru. He mentioned some figures. With the bargaining I could get to 50USD.

Should I risk my life going down and up from the crater? Or should I just pay 50USD and sleep in Senaru until my friend comes back?

At 10 am we took the way down to the lake.

Three hours of pain before me. I kept praying "Padre Nostro" (christian prayer from the gospel) and figuring positive thoughts. All the way down.

Half way the enlightening moment. I looked at my right and felt no fear. It's gone, it's over. I can do it, I will not jump in the void this time.

I asked the guide if there was only one trail. Yes, he said. I ran down happy as ever, jumping on rocks and avoiding last second turns.

The lake was just amazing. We fished, read, took a nap. Just relaxed and watched that magnificent view.

The third day, when the sun was already up, we visited the hot spring. Had a quick swim and got ready to climb up.

It was worse than expected. The trail was slippery. Some parts were walls of rock that required basic climbing skills. Easy for everyone, if it weren't for the 600m jump on the back. All the way up had the left side straight to the crater.

My fear was just equal to the patience of my companions. Three hours of that hiking, but I never stopped. I paused, but did not stop.

Passed the rim everything was easy. A steep trail down from 2700m to 1000m. But the first part was in the cloud. And the second part in the forest.

We stopped for the night at the beginning of the forest, at 2000m above the sea.

I could not sleep for the excitement. And when I did, my friend could not sleep for my snorting.

The final day was pure poetry. The sounds of the forest, grey and black monkeys, jungle trees the blocked the view of the mountain.

Half way I asked the guide how long we had to walk for. Two hours, he said. One trail? One trail. See you at the arrival.

Forty minutes of run and the journey was over for me.

Time to wait for the others. Time to think about life and death. Time to take important decisions: should I order a beer now, or wait to be in Sengigi to celebrate?

lunedì 22 aprile 2013

Lombok - Senaru

First day: flying to Lombok.

A whole day to fly to Lombok? Yes, the whole day. 

I left at 10.40 from Singapore. We arrived in Senaru at 21. We is Marie-Lea and I. Marie-Lea is a friend from university. She's French. (Yeah, French. Don't tell me about it)

Senaru is the starting point if you want to climb Rinjani, Lombok's 3700m high volcano. 

So, yesterday was a whole day of just travel. An airplane, then waiting in Bali, then another airplane to Lombok (Payar), then a 3 hour drive from Payar to Senaru, shared with a Dutch couple. 

No running, no climbing, no snorkeling.

So what's remarkable about the day?

The plane. Pictures below.

The company. We shared some stories and pretended to laugh at the Dutch guy annoying jokes.

Senaru. This tiny village is a steep street with houses on both sides. Kids, dogs, workers. All of them are nice and welcoming. Of course there are swindlers, like the guy who rented us the room for the night. But the impression of Senaru is very positive.

This morning, the second day, I woke up at 6 and had a pleasant 7.5k run.  Tried to reach the waterfalls. But my run was stopped by bunch of dogs first. Then by a bunch of monkeys.

Persuaded by the wild animals of Senaru, I went up and down the village. I saw the school, the most romantic football pitch, and some land for sale.

After a cold shower (thanks jerk swindler) we booked the trek of the next four days. And we moved to a much better room.

We spent the afternoon hiking to two gorgeous waterfalls (I finally reached them). An amuse bouche of what we will be doing for the next four days.

Everything we did, of course, was under the gaze of the wise Mount Rinjani. Our next destination.

Lombok - Senaru

First day: flying to Lombok.

A whole day to fly to Lombok? Yes, the whole day. 

I left at 10.40 from Singapore. We arrived in Senaru at 21. We is Marie-Lea and I. Marie-Lea is a friend from university. She's French. (Yeah, French. Don't tell me about it)

Senaru is the starting point if you want to climb Rinjani, Lombok's 3700m high volcano. 

So, yesterday was a whole day of just travel. An airplane, then waiting in Bali, then another airplane to Lombok (Payar), then a 3 hour drive from Payar to Senaru, shared with a Dutch couple. 

No running, no climbing, no snorkeling.

So what's remarkable about the day?

The plane. Pictures below.

The company. We shared some stories and pretended to laugh at the Dutch guy annoying jokes.

Senaru. This tiny village is a steep street with houses on both sides. Kids, dogs, workers. All of them are nice and welcoming. Of course there are swindlers, like the guy who rented us the room for the night. But the impression of Senaru is very positive.

This morning I woke up at 6 and had a pleasant 7.5k run.  Tried to reach the waterfalls, but a bunch of dogs first, and of monkeys then, persuaded me not to.

Instead, I went up and down the village. I saw the school, the most romantic football pitch, and some land for sale.

We spent the afternoon trekking  to two gorgeous waterfalls. An amuse bouche of what we will be doing for the next four days.

Everything we did, of course, was under the gaze of the wise Mount Rinjani. Our next destination.

domenica 14 aprile 2013


I did not know how to introduce the new #piovonontheroad series.

Then this happened.

I am flying from Bali to Lombok by Lion Air. Next Sunday 21 April. The plan is to run in Lombok and in Gili Islands. And to climb up to the 3700m high top of Mount Rinjani.

Fool me that I thought climbing the volcano was the riskiest part.

sabato 13 aprile 2013


Here we go, again. It's raining gentlemen.

(Just to remember that Piovono Runners was the first Italian blog to go Gangnam) with

venerdì 22 marzo 2013

La gestione del caso Maro, Mennea, e “l’orgoglio di essere italiani”

A Singapore gioco anche a calcio. Sempre meno, da quando ho iniziato a lavorare. Durante la settimana, quando posso, prendo parte a un torneo di calcio a 5 con la squadra "Italians in Singapore". Un torneo serissimo, con classifiche marcatori e tabellini di ogni partita. Ogni squadra invia un report con un giudizio personale sulla partita.

Il report di una squadra che battemmo 4-2 cominciava con “bene, da dove cominciamo...? 8 settembre 1943”. Erano inglesi. Avevano giocato una partita scorrettissima, commettendo ogni fallo possibile, solo metà dei quali fischiati, e rompendo un dito al nostro migliore giocatore. Erano molto più grossi di noi, le avevano prese e non sapevano darsene una ragione. Reagirono con la stizza di chi sa di avere torto. Derisero il nostro paese per farci inalberare (ovviamente nel report c’erano anche riferimenti a Berlusconi).

Ci riuscirono, ci inalberammo, ma la cosa finì lì, perché alla fine siamo signori (io avrei voluto spaccare loro la faccia, i signori erano altri nella squadra).

Bene. Premesso che quei tizi sono dei cafoni, per usare parole leggere. Perché il governo del nostro paese, qualunque esso sia, riesce sempre a trovare un motivo per farci vergognare in contesti internazionali?

Avevamo i tecnici, porca paletta, persone che avrebbero dovuto rappresentare l'Italia migliore. E hanno fatto la porcheria che hanno fatto. Qui la porcheria che hanno fatto, se non fosse chiara a tutti:

I danni collaterali di questi sciagurati alla guida di Esteri e Difesa sono enormi. Non oso immaginare il prossimo report del torneo.

E allora che fare?

Appellarsi all'Italia migliore. Trovare altri modelli. Il nostro destino è segnato dai pregiudizi creati (e ostinatamente sostenuti) da chi ci governa. Ma niente paura. Mennea e Baldini due uomini straordinariamente normali, ce l’hanno fatta. Con determinazione e lavoro. A loro dobbiamo ispirarci.

E nel mio piccolo, alla prossima partita del torneo contro quella squadra, quando supererò in corsa il colosso inglese per insaccarla nella sua porta, penserò a Mennea che supera l’inglese a Mosca e vince l’oro olimpico. E in onore alla Freccia del Sud, dopo aver segnato, mi volterò, guarderò l’inglese negli  occhi e gli dirò, con accento di Barletta: pigghia chist’ figghiebucchin’.

sabato 23 febbraio 2013

Non scriviamo minchiate

Un avvertimento importante. Questa minchiata l’ho scritta io da solo ed esprime solo il mio punto di vista. È così per tutte le minchiate che scrivo su Piovono Runners. Questa volta, però, ci tenevo a precisarlo.

Ecco, per l'appunto.

Vi parlo di corsa. Sì perché questa domenica corro. Domenica 24 febbraio 2013, c’è una corsa importante a Singapore. Sono 15 km + 30 piani di un grattacielo. Non mi sono allenato tantissimo ultimamente. Il mio obbiettivo sarà arrivare senza un infarto quantomeno al 20esimo piano. Per dire, se l’infarto ce l’ho al 21esimo piano sono comunque contento. Come sempre porterò con me la bandiera dei Podisti da Marte, da sventolare in cima al grattacielo.

Sarà un momento particolare. Un anno fa, in questo periodo, sventolavo la bandiera marziana a Vigevano, per celebrare l’arrivo di Andrea “Biscottino” al traguardo della sua prima e faticosa mezza maratona. Quest’anno Biscottino non c’è più e molti marziani correranno domenica a Vigevano per ricordarlo. Ecco, quindi speriamo proprio di arrivarci al 30esimo piano a sventolare la bandiera.

Ma non è di me che voglio parlare. O dei Podisti da Marte. Domenica correranno altre persone. Meglio, altre squadre, in una gara particolare.

C’è una squadra guidata da un tipo di una certa età. Gente tendenzialmente mediocre, che corre solo perché lui glielo consente. Lui è un tipo strano. Dicono c’abbia parecchi vizietti, il che non è il massimo per il leader di una squadra. Ma soprattutto è uno che vede la corsa solo in quanto finalizzata a vincere la gara. Una competizione fine a se stessa. Onanistica. Per mesi sonnecchia,vivacchia, si dedica ai suoi vizietti. Nel periodo subito prima della corsa si dopa, pesantemente, chiama alle armi tutti i suoi scagnozzi, e inizia ad abusare psicologicamente di chi sosterrebbe anche i suoi avversari. Non c’è niente di male per se, solo che finita la gara scompare. Si dedica ai suoi vizietti e manda in malora il mondo della corsa. E il mondo ha bisogno della corsa. Quelli che corrono con lui sono contenti di stargli dietro. Grazie alla sua guida spericolata arrivano per primi e possono mangiare tutto il cibo del rinfresco.

C’è un’altra squadra, guidata da un anziano signore. Non anziano come il primo. Lui si è spesso dedicato alla corsa, ma come attività secondaria, finalizzata ad altri sport. Faceva il Professore di educazione fisica. Di recente fu chiamato a occuparsi di corsa perché la squadra di prima, che aveva vinto la gara, aveva poi mandato tutto in vacca rischiando di far fallire gli organizzatori della gara. Nella sua squadra c’è gente molto brava, ma un po’ altezzosa. C’è anche gente parecchio discutibile, che prima correva col vecchio malvissuto di cui sopra. Questa squadra probabilmente non vincerà. Ha avuto poco tempo per allenarsi, ed è stata pesantemente attaccata dalla squadra del vecchio malvissuto.

C’è una squadra che non è proprio una squadra. Il tipo che la guida non corre, guarda soltanto. Ha detto a tutti come dovevano allenarsi, ha stabilito le modalità, i tempi. È una squadra che fa tanto rumore, perché il tipo che la guida fa tanto rumore. La gente che la compone è molto variegata. C’è chi corre da tempo e chi ha mosso i primi passi qualche mese fa. Tutti con una gran voglia di vincere la gara per il bene della corsa. Il problema è che non si sa che farà questa squadra una volta finita la gara. Alcuni andranno a destra, altri a sinistra. Qualcuno resterà fedele al capo qualcun altro no. Qualcun altro dopo un po’ si stancherà di correre e si dedicherà ad altro, con i soldi degli organizzatori della gara.

Di due squadre non so se sia il caso di parlare. Accenno brevemente ai capifila delle due squadre. Uno corre da tanto tempo, con vestiti sgargianti, ma non ha mai partecipato a una gara. È un eccentrico corridore che si diverte a menare il can per l’aia. Di recente ha perso credibilità perché han scoperto che millantava di certificati di merito conseguiti in Italia e all’estero. E di capacità canore riconosciutegli sin da piccolo. L’altro capofila avrebbe sempre voluto correre, ma è finito a fare lo schermidore. È stato allievo di un grande schermidore prematuramente scomparso. Sulle sue capacità di schermidore molti nutrono qualche dubbio. Dicono fosse piuttosto scorretto, non seguisse le regole del gioco pur di colpire gli avversari. Ed era un appassionato di storia della scherma, alla quale dedicava tante risorse della federazione della scherma. Adesso guida una squadra composta da gente che sarebbe meglio si guardasse la corsa da casa.

Infine, ma non per importanza, c’è una squadra alla quale sono molto affezionato. E’ una squadra nata qualche anno fa da due squadre con una grande storia, ma con poco successo. Al suo interno correvano tante persone che forse avrebbero potuto lasciare spazio a qualcuno con energie più fresche. E alla fine l’hanno fatto, hanno mollato l'osso. Non tanto per merito loro, quanto per merito di chi queste energie più fresche ce le aveva. È una squadra guidata da un tipo istintivamente simpatico, apparentemente bonario. Ma uno che da giovanissimo faceva certe corse che neanche ce le immaginiamo. Tipo guidare la "regione con i migliori asili nido d'Europa". Da qualche tempo ha deciso di guidare questa squadra. Per un po’ si era fidato di un professore (di liceo) che correva da tempo e aveva vinto una gara provinciale. Sembrava una brava persona, ma lo accusarono di doparsi e fu umanamente lasciato a casa. Come lui altri sono stati lasciati a casa, perché’ la squadra non fosse coinvolta dai loro scandali (altre squadre se ne sono infischiate altamente, per dire). Il leader di questa squadra non è un leader come ce lo immaginiamo. Non urla, non si agita. Parla pane al pane e vino al vino. Cerca di convincere con la ragionevolezza, a volte con il tempo. A volte con troppo tempo. Gli altri che corrono in questa squadra sono, per lo più, gente per bene. Gente che crede nella corsa. A volte anche troppo. Non è detto che conti per vincere le gare, ma può contare per fare apprezzare la corsa. Molti sostenitori di questa squadra volevano correre la gara, ma non c’era spazio per tutti. I sostenitori, tutti, hanno dedicato molto tempo a scegliere chi mandare a correre la gara. Anche il leader è stato scelto da tutti, al contrario che nelle altre squadre. È una cosa che, credo andrebbe apprezzata. Forse la squadra è un po’ ingenua, al suo interno ci sono delle teste matte, andrebbe aiutata dal Professore. Ma forse ce la fa da sola. Ha tanta voglia di vincere, e dice, speriamo sia vero, che lo fa per migliorare il mondo della corsa dopo anni di barbarie. Sicuramente ha migliorato se stessa negli ultimi anni, gliene si deve dare atto.

Ecco, se potessi assistere a questa gara, tiferei questa squadra. A gran voce. Se lo merita. Me la sento vicina.

Ma sono a Singapore, a correre 15km + 30 piani di un grattacielo. Quindi chiedo a te che leggi, se avevi intenzione di non andare a vedere la gara, o di andare per tifare per un’altra squadra, se, per favore, puoi andare e tifare per questa squadra a nome mio. Li riconoscerai perché indossano i colori della bandiera italiana.



P.s. Che poi 30 piani, dopo 15k, ma sono scemi?!? Io mi ero iscritto che dicevano 15k+climb. Senza precisare. Poi vado a ritirare il pettorale: "Scusi, how much climb?" "thirty stories" "thirty steps?" "thirty stories" "30 steps?" "30 piani" "XXX pioli?" "XXX piani" "no, mi scusi, forse non ho capito bene. Trenta scale tipo 1 rampa con XXX scalini?" "no, tipo trenta piani con 30 rampe con XXX scalini"

"Mmm secondo me intendeva 30 scalini"

mercoledì 20 febbraio 2013

Zerg Rush

I ran 10k this evening, in Singapore. After 10 days without running. Starting at 10 pm.

Before running I was thinking about writing a post about the next race, next Sunday.

Then, while running, I thought about a serious post to write. Something about disability and running. It was all in my mind at the end of the 10k. Something deep.

Then I had dinner at Adam's Food Court. Noodles with prawns and pork meat, followed by the "Special Italian" fruit juice.

Here's a good advice. It's an old feature, but I found it out only today. (Thanks Mix!)

Google => Zerg Rush => Search


sabato 12 gennaio 2013

Fourteenth and Fifteenth Days, Dulcis in Fundo

The sweet is at the end. Or also, take the dessert at the end. Dulcis in fundo. This ancient saying applies also to sticky rice cooked in the bamboo on the fire at night in an elephant camp in the middle of the jungle. The sweeter part is at the end.

Let's go in order.

The last two days of of the #piovonontheroad trip were mainly spent in the jungle.
We were a group of eleven people plus two guides: six girls from Ireland, a couple from Germany, a Belgium, a French, and an awesome Sicilian.

We were picked up at the hostel and carried far far away. First stop at a waterfall, where we had a short glacial bath. Then to some pools of thermal water, where we had a long warm bath.

From the thermal poos we left for a 9k trek in the middle of the jungle. Up and Down three gorgeous steep hills. The first slope left me with a tremendous will to run. The second slope I didn't resist and started. Adrien (Belgium), Guillaume (France) and Nu (one of the guides) followed straight away. Somewhere on Facebook there must be videos of these fast downhill runs. Guillaume is on a 8 months journey around the world, has uploaded over 5000 pictures and videos so far.

On the way we stopped at two villages. We were supposed cross villages of the Karen Tribe. If you check on Google, Karen Tribe is the hills tribe where women have long necks after the rings which were applied since the were kids.

No trace of long necks. Better for them, I must say. The reason was, as always, religion. Karen tribes used to be all animist. As it was explained to me by Loso (the other guide), who is from the Karen tribe, when people got sick they sacrified a chicken to nature. Then a missionary came from France, 50 years ago, and he brought medicines. Now the six villages of the Karen Tribe of that area are catholic. No more long necks.
Villages were quite amazing anyway, for us people from the cities. No electricity, terrace rice fields, and animals hanging around undisturbed. What do you think when you see a big black pig lying peacefully on the ground? I got hungry.

We reached the base camp. Five buildings where two men, one woman and a baby waited for trekkers. Our dorm, like all the buildings we had seen on the way, was in a palafitte.

It was already a little bit cold. The bravest (or the dirtiest) took a cold shower with the water pumped from the river nearby. A piece of fabric avoided debris to fall with the water.

Our dinner was luxurious. Three main meals with steam rice. For the joy of the Irish girls, there were also some potatoes, floating in the chicken curry.

We warmed up at the fire with Adrien playing any kind of unknown song (including Tryo "Hymne de mon Compaignes" and the main theme of 1970s Italian tv show Pinocchio). A good help for warming up came from the "happy water", a home made methanol rich rice liqueur. And of course the sticky rice: rice coconut milk and sugar stuffed in a bamboo, closed on top with a banana leaf, and cooked on the fire.

We went to bed at 22. At midnight I woke up. The cold night was barely stopped by the thin cover we had been provided with. The humidity had wetted the mattress. I woke up again at 1. At 2. At. 3. At 4. At 5... At 6.30 I thought it was enough. There was enough light to understand where my frozen feet where. Went out of the dorm and walked around the camp. Everything was under a thick fog. Surely thicker than our cover. The river streamed placid. Everyone and everything was asleep. I missed my running shoes.

At 7 the first human beings showed up. At 8.30 we were all awake, having a massive breakfast around the fire with eggs, toasts, tea and coffee. And sticky rice, of course.

Then came the elephants. Two, big, calm. Guided by two skinny and skilled locals.

We collected our stuff and divided in two groups: the girls left with the elephants. The other five and the guides left with a long bamboo raft, and the will to ride the elephants.

After 45 minutes we changed means of transportation. Me and Adrien went on an elephant, Guillaume, Nikol and Antja went on the other.

I was against riding elephants. But they're treated with a lot of care in Thailand. There are governmental programs to protect them, and when they get too old to carry people they are brought to specific camps.
Riding an elephant in an organized trip is like when you were a kid and they made you ride a pony. With the difference that an elephant can squeeze you.

There are two places when you can stay, on an elephant. On the comfortable chair safely tied to its back, or directly on the elephant's neck, keeping your knees behind its ears.
I stood on the neck. And found out muscles of my legs I didn't know to exist (I would have been happy also if I remained ignorant).

The elephants carried us along the river. Often crossing the river and sometimes climbing up and down of scary hills.

After 45 minutes of childhood I had to leave the elephant's neck. It was extremely painful. Emotionally: to come back to a life without an elephant. Phisically: to have my inner legs devastated John Wayne style.
We took another raft and all together navigated the river for another 2 hours. It was very funny, with some rafting and some race. Everything in the quiet and placid streaming of the river in the forest. Some poop of elephant floating from time to time (they are huge).

After two hours we reached the final camp, had lunch and headed back to the hostel.

I was full of energy for the days spent in such a great atmosphere. There was only one thing I could do: run.
Old Chiang Mai is surrounded by a squared canal and some remainings of the walls which protected the city. The whole perimeter is 6,4k, I found out. Started and never stopped. The elephants, the rafting, the new friends. The humid and cold night. Altogether there with me and my legs. I climbed the walls, where it was possible. And came back at the hostel tired and fully satisfied.

The evening went on with a solitary dinner in a restaurant which served typical northern Thai food. It was advised by the guide. The first meal was a raw sausage with fresh salad. Very good. And I'm still alive, chances are I won't die even this time.

After the dinner, a goodbye drink with the adventurous mates of the jungle trip.

Piovonontheroad is at the end.

Pictures of these two days will be posted later, on a Picasa album attached to this post. [Done on 17 January 2013]

The very last day, the sixteenth one, was spent in four airports. Chiang Mai International, Kuala Lumpur Budget Terminal, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and Changi Airport Singapore.

Not much to say about it, apart that it left me with a great desire of home. And of running. Well, for the second thing it's easy. Just need to upload this post, share it, and I'm ready to hit the road of Botanic Garden, Singapore.

See you soon on Piovono Runners.