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Vietnamese-Japanese couple on 20-nation journey after wife’s recovery from COVID-19

Vietnamese-Japanese couple on 20-nation journey after wife’s recovery from COVID-19

Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 09:15 GMT+7
Vietnamese-Japanese couple on 20-nation journey after wife’s recovery from COVID-19
A wefie photo taken by Chiaki, the 28-year-old Japanese wife of Ngo Quang Dung (C), a 29-year-old Vietnamese man, during a trip as part of their plan to travel to 20 countries in one year. Photo: Supplied.

A young Vietnamese-Japanese couple decided to spend a year of their youth to travel to 20 countries after the wife recovered from COVID-19, during which she trod a thin line between life and death.

The husband, Ngo Quang Dung, a 29-year-old Vietnamese information technology engineer, discussed the plan with her wife Chiaki, a Japanese consultant, 28, after she overcame the life and death moment caused by the disease.

They then agreed to implement the plan five months ago to give a temporary end to a long period during which they often worked from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm every day.

Vietnamese man Ngo Quang Dung and his Japanese wife are seen in a salt field of Uyuni, a city in Bolivia. Photo: Supplied.

Vietnamese man Ngo Quang Dung and his Japanese wife are seen in a salt field in Uyuni, a city in Bolivia. Photo: Supplied

Up to this point, they find themselves in the fifth month of their extensive journey, having explored 14 countries, among them the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Brazil.

The couple's most recent stop is Madagascar, marking their inaugural visit to Africa.

Decision after life-and-death moment

Dung recounted that immediately following their wedding in Vietnam in October 2021, Chiaki fell seriously ill with COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized, struggling to breathe.

For two weeks, Chiaki underwent treatment, during which Dung witnessed her wife teetering on the brink of life and death before ultimately recovering.

Afterward, Chiaki returned to Japan to resume her work.

A photo of an Amazon forest area in South America, taken by Ngo Quang Dung, who visited the place along with his Japanese wife Chiaki.  Photo: Supplied.

A photo of an Amazon forest area in South America, taken by Ngo Quang Dung, who visited the place along with his Japanese wife Chiaki. Photo: Supplied

Reflecting on their past, Dung realized that year after year, the couple had been consumed by work, seemingly oblivious to everything else around them, until Chiaki contracted COVID-19 and faced her critical condition.

This serious incident prompted Dung to reassess the life they had constructed, leading them to a decision to pause their work and embark on travels using their savings.

“We decided to stop working for one year to enjoy our youth,” Dung said.

The couple proceeded with their travel plan instead of continuing to work and save money to purchase houses or other assets, diverging from the path taken by many others of their age.

They calculated the total estimated costs for a year of travel and structured a budget to sustain themselves for up to one year following the conclusion of their travel plan.

They also set aside a small amount for unforeseen expenses that may arise during their journey.

This image taken by Chiaki shows her husband Ngo Quang Dung amidst the majestic scene of the Death Valley in the state of California, the U.S.  Photo: Supplied.

This image, taken by Chiaki, shows her husband Ngo Quang Dung amidst the majestic scene of the Death Valley in the U.S. state of California. Photo: Supplied

"Neither my wife nor I require luxurious possessions," the husband emphasized.

"A house and a car are acquisitions we can pursue later, and our travel plans won't significantly affect such purchases.

"However, our youth and energy, once spent, cannot be reclaimed with money.

Furthermore, Dung shared that he and his wife had previously embarked on two- or three-hour walks or ventured into remote areas for exploration, activities they believed they could only experience once in a lifetime.

They recognized that as they age, perhaps ten or twenty years from now, they might not possess the same level of health to engage in such adventures.

Gratitude and best place to live  

Dung confided that the most valuable treasures the couple have gained during their ongoing journey are the expansion of knowledge, rich experiences, and a profound sense of gratitude.

The man said they have gleaned a wealth of knowledge, spanning from history to culture and interpersonal connections, in the places they have visited.

They have deepened their understanding of the challenges confronting indigenous communities, including racism and gender discrimination.

“‘A picture is worth a thousand words,' Dung said.

"Witnessing what local residents do every day helps us understand them more clearly than what is described in books or videos.”

This image shows a beautiful valley in Peru, whose name is not remembered by the Vietnamese-Japanese couple, Ngo Quang Dung and Chiaki, who visited the attraction. Photo: Supplied.

This captivating image captures a picturesque valley in Peru, a destination cherished by the Vietnamese-Japanese couple, Ngo Quang Dung and Chiaki, during their visit to the area. Photo: Supplied

During their travels, the couple often reflected on their previous lives in Japan and Vietnam, realizing that they were "luckier than millions and billions of people in other places in the world."

"Each of us is grateful for being born in a stable society where we've had the opportunity to attend school, go to work, and pursue our aspirations," Dung said.

The couple also conveyed their appreciation for the kindness of strangers who had selflessly assisted them during their travels, without expecting anything in return.

Dung emphasized that these encounters had enriched their journey with exceptional experiences.

Both Dung and Chiaki have compiled a list of memorable experiences from their journey, including the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains, towering over 6,000 meters high in South America.

Yet, they have also identified numerous places they deem as ideal for living.

When asked ‘what makes a place worth living in?” Dung said it is the people there.

The Vietnamese-Japanese couple, Ngo Quang Dung and Chiaki, are seen in an area in Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona, the U.S. Photo: Supplied.

The Vietnamese-Japanese couple, Ngo Quang Dung and Chiaki, are seen in an area in Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S. state of Arizona. Photo: Supplied.

During their travels through 14 countries thus far, in addition to marveling at breathtaking landscapes, the couple have cherished warm encounters with friendly and hospitable people, the man recounted.

While in Brazil, they were frequently aided by locals, ranging from the owner of a lodging facility who provided them with a complimentary night's stay to a taxi driver who escorted them to a public hospital where free medical services were available to residents and tourists alike.

They shared an indelible memory when their lost camera was returned to them after accidentally leaving it behind on a bus during one of their excursions.

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Vinh Tho - Vu Thuy / Tuoi Tre News

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