Our names are Marine and Antoine. We are a French couple, and last year, we decided to make a trip around the world over the course of 12 months. We left France on November 28th last year.
Gang’s all here: Antoine (middle) and his French friends in the Mekong Delta. — Photos courtesy of Antoine
Our first destination was Nepal. We stayed there one month. The second step was Việt Nam. We were very touched by the kindness of Vietnamese people we met. We want to use this article to tell you about our meetings and wonderful memories of these encounters.
When we arrived in HCM City, we were really surprised by the good energy of the town and the people. It was really difficult to cross the road at the beginning, so we followed the local people. We slept five nights in a Vietnamese girl’s apartment, thanks to Couchsurfing, the website that lets you find people willing to host you for free. This girl is a Vietnamese English teacher, and she proposed the couch surfers join her for the English lesson. She’s really sensitive about the difficulties of Vietnamese students working on their English and she wants to help them. At the same time, the students can meet travelers from around the world to share different cultures. So, we ate some dinners with this teacher and her students and we celebrated the New Year’s Eve together.
Visiting the visitors: Antoine and his family on a junk in Ha Long Bay.
Local family with generous heart
Some days after, we bought a motorbike in HCM City to travel around Việt Nam and Cambodia. So we took the road to the Mekong Delta. On the road, I lost my little bag with my passport, my phone, and my credit cards... We returned to the same road to see if the bag was there, but no luck. So, we drove until we reached the next town, and we met a man. His name is Nam. Nguyễn Thành Nam. This man gave us WiFi to call the Embassy. On the phone, the woman said to us, "You need to go back to HCM City to make another passport". So we were really moody and frustrated.
Then, Nam asked us if we tried to call my phone on Facebook messenger, using Marine’s phone. No answer. A few minutes later, Marine’s phone rang with a call from my Facebook account. We answered, and handed the phone to Nam. Because we don’t speak Vietnamese, Nam spoke with the man on the phone and set up a meeting to recover the bag. But this person asked for 2 million đồng, like a ransom. We asked to pay just one million, but it was not possible.
Nam brought me to the bank to withdraw money. Then, he drove me to the meeting. On the road, Nam paid for my cigarettes and a bottle of water. During this time, other people were paying for Marine to have some coffees and coconut juice, for free. Then, Nam and I did the exchange. When we went back to Nam’s business after the exchange, we took some pictures, and we paid for some beers to say thank you, and I gave him a football shirt. But it’s not the end of the story.
Then Nam’s father arrived, his mother too, and gave us food. So we bought another package of beer to share together. After some time together, Nam’s father said to us, "I offer you charity".
Waoooooh! So we stayed one night with the family, and we shared some beers, food and karaoke until 3pm I think. The next morning at 6 am, a new day started, again with karaoke, this time with Nam’s son.
We took a shower, ate again, drank beers and sang. We needed to take the road to go to Cambodia quickly because of Marina’s visa, but it was really difficult to leave this family. So we exchanged some shirts with Nam, and we drove south to the border. We want to share this experience because its reflects the Vietnamese mentality. For us, it’s important to share this experience because Nam and his family need to be famous. Thank you Nam, and thank you Nam’s family.
Great time: Antoine (left) and Marine pose with Nam and his son.
And other interesting meetings
After this great moment, we crossed the border to go to Cambodia. One month later, still on our motorbikes, we crossed the border to return to Viet Nam because we wanted more Viet Nam. We went to Huế, where we met Mỹ Thê, who worked for the charity association "Bretagne Vietnam". For Tết, Mỹ Thê and her family invited us to eat with them. It was an honour for us. Then, my parents joined us for a tour of Việt Nam. We had Lợi as our Vietnamese guide in the Imperial City. Lợi organised a wonderful trip for us. In one night, he did it all. Really impressive! So, the day after our first meeting, we took the road to Sapa with him.
We passed a few days there, where we met Kiều and her family, who are Black Mong. We did some treks in the mountain. Fantastic! Then, we took the road to Hạ Long Bay with my parents. We were in paradise. Lợi create for us a tour on a junk over three days and two nights. He impressed us with his profound knowledge of Việt Nam, his kindness and generosity.
We had a lot of wonderful memories of your country, your culture, your smile, your generosity and all you can give.
We hope we will come back to your country another time, after our road trip. Thank you to Nam, Nam’s family, Mỹ Thê, Lợi and some other people for permitting us to discover your fabulous country. Thank you Việt Nam! — VNS