Grandpa walks the length of Vietnam

By Ma Lum   April 15, 2017 | 09:43 pm PT
Grandpa walks the length of Vietnam
Tran Ngoc Cong (C) poses for photo with young people he met in his trip. Photo courtesy of Tran Ngoc Cong
'I choose to make the journey on foot to slowly enjoy every moment of it.'

In Vietnam, a trip across the country is a dream for many young people. When it comes to this trans-Vietnam trip, most youths turn to motorbikes, but some even take bicycles.

Now meet 64-year-old Tran Ngoc Cong. He decided to up the ante by walking.

Cong began his adventure on February 2 after testing himself with a six-day, 170km (105 miles) walk from Huu Nghi Border Gate in the northern province of Lang Son to his home in the capital early this year.

His family disapproved of his plan at first, but the determined grandfather would not take no for an answer.

For the past two months, the old man has been walking 30km every day in all kinds of weather on his journey of self-discovery.

Cong said he spends approximately VND300,000 ($13.2) per day and always carries fresh water, hats and raincoats.

Most of his journey has taken him down National Highway 1, but he sometimes follows Google Maps to stroll along picturesque seaside roads.

“Young people trek, climb mountains and even cross Vietnam on bicycles. I chose to walk from north to south to make the most of my trip,” the old man said.

Having already visited several different countries, Cong said there are still many beautiful places in Vietnam that he wanted to see. He said he does not regret his decision because it has given him many memorable experiences like any other “normal” tourists, such as visiting museums and natural heritage sites, or spending the night in Hoi An and having a mud-bath in Nha Trang.

The image of an old man walking alone on the streets has made local people curious. Some even stop to offer him a lift or a place to stay for the night.

“Around 39 people have offered me a free ride. Two young people even thought that I didn't have money and insisted on giving some for a bus fare,” Cong recalls.

Sometimes he had to lie and say he was undergoing treatment that requires him to walk 30km each day so that people would let him continue his trip.

He also ran into bad people. On the Co Ma Pass in the central province of Khanh Hoa, a young man drove up to him on a motorbike intending to rob him.

Cong gave him his old backpack, which had some clothes and a bottle of water inside. "It made the robber think that I had mental health issues and was just wandering around,” he said.

Given all ups and downs of his journey, Cong has finally reached the finish line in Ca Mau Province in mid-April as scheduled.

For him, the support he received from family, friends and strangers is the most valuable thing he got out of the adventure, which many would consider too risky for an old man.

Watch this video, filmed by a young traveler, to see why many people dream about traveling Vietnam.

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