When wanderlust met pandemic: Vietnamese adventurer cuts short world tour

By Lan Huong    April 24, 2020 | 11:04 pm PT
When wanderlust met pandemic: Vietnamese adventurer cuts short world tour
At Morogoro Town, Tanzania, Tran Dang Khoa got into trouble due to the early onset of rain, 1000 days into his journey. Photo courtesy of Khoa.
The three-year around-the-world journey of Tran Dang Dang Khoa was unexpectedly cut short by the novel coronavirus.

The final chapter of Khoa’s diary should have been titled ‘Way Back Home’, but now it is ‘Stuck in Africa’.

He said, given the Covid-19 pandemic, he would be glad to return home soon, ending his journey ahead of schedule.

Khoa had left Vietnam on June 1, 2017, from Moc Bai in Tay Ninh Province which borders Cambodia, embarking on a journey around the world on his old motorbike.

Over the next 1,000 days he crossed 62 nations on all seven continents, including Antarctica which he reached through a tour service.

Many of his compatriots following his trip on social media, irrespective of age, were inspired by his resilience and adventurous spirit.

Tran Le Hung, a retired engineer, was in fact inspired so much he traveled 45,000 kilometers by motorbike across 39 countries in Eurasia from winter 2018 to summer 2019.

Khoa intended to end his journey on June 1 this year, exactly three years after departure. However, his journey was suspended by Covid-19 due to border closures.

In January, he hit Madagascar, waiting for his motorbike to be sent from Australia to continue the journey. However, Khoa was forced to relocate to Mozambique, from where evacuation would be easier amid the spreading virus. Here, power outages are rare, and daily necessities are more readily available.

Khoa reached Mozambique on March 23, three days before it completely closed its borders. Tourists like Khoa were only required to undergo temperature checks at the border, without having to follow strict social distancing. Additionally, Mozambique’s government extended visas for all international visitors to June 30.

Receiving less income from advertizing contracts in Vietnam due to the pandemic, Khoa luckily found affordable lodging, while cooking for himself, spending approximately 1200 MZN ($17) a day.

In Mozambique, from where all test samples are sent to South Africa for analysis, the risk of undetected infections are high. Across the country, hand sanitizers are available at public places and temperature checks are common at supermarkets, leaving Khoa more concerned about local socio-political contentions that often flare up into violence.

In Africa, on top of the language barrier, he faced motorbike breakdowns, road dangers and power outages. Additionally, information was limited, and everything cost much more than expected.

"Honestly, I have fulfilled my wish to visit every continent so I’m partially satisfied," Khoa said.

After a week of thinking he decided to call off his trip one month shy of a full three years.

On April 20, Khoa announced he had sent his motorbike back to Vietnam from Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, before boarding a plane himself.

This has been the hardest decision in his life, Khoa said. But with his dream partially fulfilled, he is ready to come home.

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