by Hoai Nam
(VNS) After winning the 2012 GoPro Hero Da Nang Triathlon, Todd Gilmore has no intention of leaving Viet Nam.
Pedal power: Todd cycles in a triathlon race in Viet Nam. He won the 2012 GoPro Hero Da Nang Triathlon in September.
|Running man: Todd trains for a triathlon in HCM City, where the Canadian has lived for seven years. He has trained for the sport for four years. — VNS Photos courtesy Todd Gilmore
The Canadian, who works as an engineer for British Premier Oil, has been living in HCM City for seven years. Although he grew up on a farm in a small town more like mountainous SaPa than the southern city, he enjoys life in the country's commercial hub.
"In the early 1990s when I came here for the first time, I really enjoyed the lifestyle," Todd says. "The food, people and weather are all great. I also married a Vietnamese local, which is why I have been back so often recently."
The Canadian has only studied Vietnamese for about six months, but he has learned enough to get around and be polite – although not enough to have a real conversation. The language is difficult, he says, but likely no harder than other tonal languages like Chinese.
As for the people, they are often quite friendly and kind, he says, although "some parts of the lifestyle can be challenging to foreigners". While going out for coffee with friends can be great, spending time "at home, with an extended family in one crowded room" can be difficult for foreigners to adapt to.
Todd also enjoys traditional Vietnamese food-his favourite dish is thit heo kho to (braised pork) – although some local flavours still elude him. "My least favourite is mam tom (shrimp paste)," he says.
The Canadian started triathlon training four years ago, but training in HCM City is not easy. Swimming pools are all over, but the traffic in the city makes running and biking difficult.
"I drive a motorbike and a car with little difficulty in Viet Nam. However, I have to be super cautious on a bike. A bike is silent with no horn and too many people do things on the road without looking. That is a dangerous situation. So I ride on a spinning bike or indoor trainer during the week and on the weekends go out early to ride my bike," he said.
Todd has participated in many charity sporting events in Viet Nam.
Last June he competed in a full Ironman event in the US, which included a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run (full marathon).
The race organisers offered each participant the opportunity to nominate a charity and raise money for their cause. Todd chose www.heartbeatvietnam.org because he wanted to help underprivileged children in the country. His efforts ultimately raised US$16,200 for the organisation, which he said will give 16 children the chance to have potentially lifesaving heart surgery.
He plans to further promote this charity by wearing a special uniform to all of his events and telling everyone about it.
When he's not training, he spends time with his wife and their sons, ages 10 and eight. "Family time is my happiest time," Todd says. "We take in movies and enjoy the odd bike ride and swim."
Todd said he would like to live in Viet Nam for a longer period of time as he enjoys the benefits of both Western and Vietnamese lifestyles daily. — VNS