Vietnamese-American Tran Hung John has quit his job and is preparing for a journey across Vietnam with an empty pocket to prove that its people are generous and friendly.
“Recently, there were many entries by foreign bloggers saying Vietnam is not an ideal place for travel due to its lack of security and the people not being quite friendly,” Hung told news website VnExpress.
He wants to prove this is untrue.
The 23-year-old plans to walk from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City “without carrying money and relying totally on the kindness and generosity of Vietnamese people I meet on the roads.
“They will help me find food, a place to sleep, and transport."
He faced objection from his family and friends, he said.
“My mother is very concerned. She just wants me to stay in the US and help with the family business.
“But I told her I am Vietnamese and I will help more people by living in Vietnam."
His parents have lived in the US since they were young, so little Vietnamese is spoken in his family.
“Only when I visited my grandmother could I hear my mother tongue. She told a lot about the kindness of Vietnamese people. And during the time I studied in Vietnam, I really felt that,” Hung said.
The psychology graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, did four months of “overseas study” in Hanoi. He returned to Vietnam after finishing his program and has worked for Vietnam Television, which he has quit for the journey.
Hung has been practicing eating and drinking less and walking with a 10-kilogram bag.
He has successfully completed a 40-kilometer walk and is next aiming for one of 80 kilometers.
“On June 12 the journey will begin. I don’t know if I will go for two or three months, or more. But during that time, I will not spend money and limit the use of my cell phone.”
He admitted he is nervous about the journey.
“But I accept both: reaching the finish or dying en route.”