Tran Viet Anh is taking a trip across Southeast Asia by bicycle in order to raise money for charity.
The funds collected will be used to purchase five tons of rice to help the Vietnamese community living in floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the upcoming occasion of the Lunar New Year.
Beginning on February 16, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year is the biggest celebration in a year.
The 25-year-old, who started the journey on December 1 in Hat Yai, Thailand, has arrived in Bandung, Indonesia, completing about one-third of his trip. He plans to travel around Southeast Asia for 60 days.
For a guy on the road with a bicycle, the places he stays at night vary.
“I’ll sleep there as long as there is a roof, In Malaysia, I sleep at Islamic mosques. In Indonesia, I sleep at the desa [an administrative village] to get to know the villagers, or look for those who could let me camp.”
|Anh and his old bicycle that he bought in Thailand. Photo: Anh's Facebook page|
Anh shared one recent story involving staying at a person’s house.
“Mama and Papa run a cafeteria. I was having a meal, talking to them and letting them know that I planned to stay at the desa,” he said.
“‘Stay here! Stay here!’ Papa Jono said. So I stayed.
“Papa was hospitable. I showed him the photos I took from Vietnam to Indonesia.
“Mama told the people there that I was Korean. I had to correct her: ‘Vietnamese Mama!’
“Then she said ‘Ah! Vietnaaam!’
|Anh camps at night. Photo: Anh's Facebook page|
“The people in the countryside of Indonesia were so lovely.”
Indonesia seems to have left a good impression on the Vietnamese man.
“Indonesia is all hills and mountains. It was tiring to ride a bicycle during the first days here,” Anh said.
“But now it’s not the issue anymore. I can just walk with the bicycle.
“At Christmas, I chose a super good view, set up a tent outside, set a fire, cooked and watched the city down below.”
Anh has a thirst for adventure, but he also a heart for his family.
|Anh and local people. Photo: Anh's Facebook page|
“My parents are okay with me leaving like this, but still worried. That’s why I keep in touch with them frequently. The first thing I do when I come to a new place is to find a way to let them know.”
The backstory of this journey actually took place during Anh’s trip to Tonle Sap Lake in 2015.
“The households there were poor and their houses were a couple meters wide. Some people even lived on small fishing boats,” he recounted.
“People left early in the morning to go fishing. Some came back at noon. Others one or two days later.
“They exchanged fish for rice. When there were few fish, they just tried to make it through the day.
“I stayed there just one night, but that’s enough to make me want to do something, even if it is little.”
|Anh stops to take a photo. Photo: Anh's Facebook page|
After that, Anh stopped at Siem Riep for seven days and called on the Vietnamese community there to contribute.
VND12 million (US$529) was what he received and it was used to purchase one ton of rice that was then given to the 200 lowest-income families.
Talking about his current trip, Anh explained the origin of his bike.
“Actually, I planned to travel by bus. Then I met a friend from Tonle Sap Lake in Bangkok. I recalled the journey back then and the feelings came back. I had to do something,” he said.
So Anh decided to buy an old bicycle in Thailand and resumed his trip in 2015.
“I am a travel blogger. I have things I want to try.
|Anh fixes his bicycle. Photo: Anh's Facebook page|
“But all I want to do now is travel safely, live fully each day, and raise enough funds for the Vietnamese community in Tonle Sap Lake.
“One ton of rice and VND4.5 million [$199] has been collected.”
Anh will now gather an additional 3.6 tons to distribute to 500 people in Tonle Sap Lake.
“I will do what I can. It is not much, but better than nothing.
“But that is not a long-term solution. I want people to know about Tonle Sap Lake through my journey and some of them may actually do something.”