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Vietnamese man visits 50 countries, and counting, on motorbike

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 10:48 GMT+7
Vietnamese man visits 50 countries, and counting, on motorbike
Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a photo with his motorbike when he arrived in Grand Canyon, Arizona, U.S. in March 2019. Photo: Supplied

A Vietnamese man from southern Vietnam is living his dream, or everyone’s dream: traveling the world by motorbike.

On the 794th day of his journey, Tran Dang Dang Khoa reached Sydney - the two-third mark on his seven-continent motorbike journey.

“Suddenly I opened my eyes and I saw Sydney, an important milestone which marks two-thirds of my world journey on ‘The Memo’ and over two years since my departure,” Khoa shared with his 237,500 Facebook followers on August 3.

A picture capturing nature at a rural area in Australia taken by Dang Khoa has received positive feedback from his Facebook followers

A picture capturing nature in a rural area in Australia taken by Khoa has received positive feedback from his Facebook followers.

“The Memo” is the name of the motorbike he has used for the trip, which began in June 2017, and the vehicle has so far taken him through around 50 countries.

After Australia, the Tien Giang Province native expects to travel to Africa and the South Pole before heading home to Asia.

In the middle of his journey, Khoa met with a Tuoi Tre News correspondent and sat down for an interview on the West Coast of the U.S. before leaving for Australia.

The conversation took place at the uproarious Hard Rock Café on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a photo with his 'The Memo' in the garage at the hotel he stays in Los Angeles. Photo: Dong Nguyen/Tuoi Tre News

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a photo with his 'The Memo' in the garage of a hotel where he stayed in Los Angeles. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

An unexpectedly long journey

On June 1, 2017, Khoa left Vietnam to pursue the dream of his life, but he did not imagine how far he would go.

“At first, I only planned to travel to France,” he admitted.

Khoa reached Paris after a 150-day journey from Vietnam.

“Upon arriving in France on my motorbike, I came up with the idea of continuing to South America because I had already covered such a long distance to this European country,” he said.

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses with his beloved bike at The Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo courtesy of Dang Khoa

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses with his beloved bike at The Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo: Supplied

Khoa made it to South America, where he initially just hoped to see Ecuador, but he wound up visiting Colombia as well.

When he was in Colombia, Khoa drove past the U.S. Embassy and decided that he would take a shot at applying for a U.S. visa from there.

After his visa was approved, he made a trip to New York where he, again, by chance passed by the Canadian Embassy. He applied for a visa, got it, and made the journey to Canada.

However, he arrived in Canada in winter and found the weather was not ideal for a motorbike trip.

Khoa then decided to fly back to Europe where he took motorbike trips to Northern European and Baltic countries before returning to Canada when the weather was better for driving.

“From Canada I planned to go to Australia, but then I thought ‘why not travel the East Coast of the U.S. since I had already made it to the West Coast?’,” he recalled.

“So that’s why I’m in Los Angeles and my plan has definitely changed a lot,” Khoa told the Tuoi Tre News reporter with laughter.

Dang Khoa in Santorini, Greece. Photo: Supplied

Khoa in Santorini, Greece. Photo: Supplied

The man who called himself a “time billionaire” said he had neither ‘deadline pressure” for his trips nor a specific goal for the number of countries he wanted to visit, so he can travel as much as he likes before returning home.

Looking at his schedule, Khoa expects to arrive in Vietnam in June 2020.

How to get visa approval

One of the things Khoa had to spend time preparing for was applying for visas.

There are two ways he often uses to get visa approval to a country, he shared.

Whenever he is in a new country, Khoa tries to find the embassy of the next country he wants to visit and applies for a visa. 

Otherwise, he takes the easier route of applying for a visa online.

“I always try to visit capital cities where there are many embassies,” he said.

“That makes it very convenient for applying for visas to the countries I want to go to.”

Another reason why he always tries to visit capitals is because they reflect the “souls” of their countries, Khoa said.

However, there are some countries where Khoa decided to give up his intention of visiting and re-directed his plans because of the complicated paper requirements or inconvenient waiting times.

Dang Khoa in Mexico. Photo: Supplied

Khoa in Mexico. Photo: Supplied

According to Khoa, paper procedures are complicated but not very difficult.

If someone wants to travel many countries, they just need to spend time researching and considering a reasonable schedule.

Besides carefully preparing documents, Khoa often attaches a letter in his papers which explains his plan, including the reason why he applies for a visa from the country he is in rather than doing so from Vietnam.

Another thing Khoa has to consider is how he will transport his motorbike between countries.

Normally, he just identifies his beginning and ending points on each continent so he knows where to ship and receive his motorbike.

Because it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a month for his motorbike to be shipped from one continent to another, Khoa spends that time discovering the new continent using other transport.

Before departing for his long journey, Khoa already earned two international driving licenses in Vietnam, with one being issued by the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam and another issued by International Automobile Associates.

He also prepares travel documents for his motorbike to pass border gates.

Some countries such as Iran, India and Pakistan required a number of special papers which took Khoa up to two years to prepare.

‘Each person was born with his own path’

At 33 years old, Khoa is making his childhood dream come true, in his own way.

“I think everything has their fate, and everyone was born with their own path,” he said.

“They just need to walk that path.”

To Khoa, his path is spending his days driving the small motorbike through countries, stopping at any place he likes, meeting anyone he wants to, trying new food, experiencing local life, and then opening his heart.

“The more I travel, the more I realize how big this world is, so I open my heart as wide as I can to experience this life, meet more friends, and understand more things,” he said.

“I meet many kinds of people, from good to bad, so I have a more ‘multidimensional’ view of this life and world,” he added.

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a picture with children in Havana, Cuba. Photo: Supplied

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a picture with children in Havana, Cuba. Photo: Supplied

In the mind of the man who has traveled through around 50 countries, the populous big cities are not the things remembered most.

“The most memorable things of this trip were the small beautiful villages; the days I spent discovering every corner of a place I like or enjoying the life of local people,” Khoa explained why he stayed at some places for months.

“Every place has its own positive values regarding landscapes, cuisine, people, lifestyle, tradition, and perspectives on happiness,” he added.

As a traveler, Khoa said his “job” is to open his heart to learn things from the places he visits.

However, there is one thing he sometimes has to suffer being away from home: the craving for Vietnamese food.

In his mid-thirties, 33-year-old Khoa is making his childhood dream come true, in his own way. Photo: Dong Nguyen/Tuoi Tre News

33-year-old Khoa is making his childhood dream come true, in his own way. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

When asked about the funding for his journey, Khoa shared he often writes travel stories for tourism companies and newspapers in Vietnam to earn money. 

The stunning photos he takes on the way are a source of income as they are bought by travel companies.

Khoa also works as an endorser for some brands he has used and trusted.

Not only does he earn enough money for his trip around the world, Khoa said he also supports his family back home as well as the charity work he was involved with in Vietnam before he left.

“I’m the oldest son so I have to take care of my family,” Khoa explained.

“People think I must be very rich to afford such a trip but to be honest, if I could only make enough money for this trip, I would not have started it.

“I go because I can help my family by doing this job.”

To many fans of Tran Dang Dang Khoa, his trip is absolutely fascinating and the photos he took along the way are equally stunning.

Below are some of the photos of the places Khoa visited, which are posted on his Facebook page:

The ancient village of Masuleh in Iran

The ancient village of Masuleh in Iran

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba

Dang Khoa spent two days experiencing a hunting trip with a local hunter in Greenland

Khoa spent two days experiencing a hunting trip with a local hunter in Greenland in November 2018.

Aurora in Greenland taken by Dang Khoa

Aurora in Greenland 

Dang Khoa visited Finland at Christmas time in December 2018

Khoa visited RovaniemiFinland at Christmas in December 2018.

Amazon, Peru

Amazon, Peru

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, U.S.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, U.S.

Route 66, U.S.

Route 66, U.S.

Redwood Highway, California, the U.S.

Redwood Highway, California, U.S.

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a photo with his 'The Memo'  against the background with the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Photo: Supplied

Tran Dang Dang Khoa poses for a photo with his 'The Memo' against the background of the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.

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Dong Nguyen/Tuoi Tre News

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