VietNamNet Bridge – With little money from part-time jobs, a Hanoian man – Nguyen Van Thai, has traveled to the little known lands of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, during the 8 years of study in France.
Graduating from high school, Nguyen Van Thai studied in France. He both studied and worked to save every penny to cover the cost of living and for traveling. He took advantage of 3 months of summer and winter holidays and any vacation to travel to many countries.
“For me, time for friends, watching movies or going to night clubs… was very expensive. I like working and reading books. Reading to learn about countries before going there is the foundation for having good trips,” Van Thai said.
Discovering the Sognefjord Bay in Norway.
After six years of study and two years working for a number of tour operators in France, Nguyen Van Thai went to 30 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The lands he visited are the remote areas that not many tourists set foot to. Thai explained that he visited these remote places first because he still had health and time.
In his first trip, Thai spent the night in the Plitvice National Park in Croatia. At first he was worried about safety, but the night in the wild brought him a very interesting feeling. After that, Thai was no longer afraid to go to new lands.
“Traveling is to experience and learn. Success of the trip is not only to go there, to take good photos, but to experience and learn from the trip,” Thai said.
The trekking trip in Corsica (France) is also an unforgettable experience with Thai. In the low tourism season, the island was like a deserted city because the local residents traveled and all restaurants and hotels were closed. In cold and rain, he wandered to find a place to sleep. Fortunately, he found a hotel that was being repaired and took shelter there. A few days later, he met a beggar and that man showed him a deserted hospital to sleep.
“When I told my friends about it, they said I might face danger to sleep in the deserted hospital with the beggar. But based on my feeling, I trusted that person. Based on popular tourist criteria (taking lots of pictures, good weather), the trip to Corsica Island could be seen as a failure because it rained badly. But on personal experience, it is one of the most amazing trips because I had the opportunity to communicate with the local people more,” he said.
In most of his trips, Thai stayed in dorms (bunk room) at the cost of only $5 per night in motels and made friends with other tourists around the world to together explore the places. Before the trips, Thai did not make any detailed plan. If the destination was interesting, he stayed there for a longer few days, otherwise he shortened the journey. Each trip usually lasted from a week to several months.
In each place, Thai tried to taste local cuisines, learned local languages and talked with the locals.
Thai still remembers the sense of excitement to explore the Sahara desert, the fluttered feeling when he said goodbye to the romantic island of Santorini, the fresh feeling when sipping tapas in a bar in Barcelona, the feeling of being small before the pyramids in Egypt…
Van Thai explores the island of Tenerife (Spain).
Like other backpackers, Thai many times had uncertainties on the road. In Greece, his credit card was swallowed up by an ATM and he could not buy ship ticket back to Italy. Thanks to his good communication skills and his fluency in the three foreign languages of English, French and Italian, two Canadian tourists bought a ship ticket for him and gave him Eur50. From there he went to Milan (Italy) and the island of Tenerife (Spain).
“Practical experience is very different from what you imagine. Desert is not only arid, with only sand, but the landscapes are diverse. Amid the desert are rocks, valleys or oasis, and even old cities in the hillsides like Petra in Jordan,” Thai said.
Thai also said that the Muslims are not extremists as people think. Many Muslims in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey were quite open. They do not always wear a scarf. In many cities, they dress like Europeans.
Unlike many backpackers who travel to challenge yourself and to face danger, Thai traveled only identifying himself as a traveler who travels to cultivate his knowledge. He came to different lands to learn the nature and culture. Trekking through a mountain, Thai learned of the tectonic and the plants there.
Having a passion for travel, Thai also wants to inspire the people. After 8 years studying and working in France, Thai returned to Vietnam when he was 27 years old. He is implementing a tourism project in a remote area in Vietnam.
Compiled by Mai Lan