Rita Rasimaite may have pedaled her beloved bike across Vietnam only to have it stolen during her first night in Ho Chi Minh City, but the outpouring of sympathy and generosity she received after sharing her story with locals was beyond her expectations.
Rasimaite, a Lithuanian based in the UK, cycled more than 3,600km across Vietnam on her north-to-south trip to reach the southern metropolis on Tuesday.
While the 26-year-old expected to be able to celebrate completing her trip, she instead wound up “[crying] on [Wednesday] morning as someone stole [her] bicycle from the front of [her] hostel” in District 1, Rasimaite wrote on her Facebook.
Rasimaite said the bike, a Cannondale Quick 5 equipped with a small computer and phone holder, is “more like a friend and has very sentimental meaning” to her, and she badly needs to see her buddy again.
The call for help was quickly shared in Facebook groups and to the wider local community before Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper contacted Rasimaite and helped share her situation to its Vietnamese readers on Thursday.
Rasimaite said the lost bike and accompanying accessories cost around US$800, but she “[doesn’t] need money now.”
“I just want my bicycle as it is really a good bike and lasted me very well. I was supposed to take it with me when leaving the country for my future adventures,” she told Tuoi Tre.
Rita Rasimaite's bike, which she calls "[her] baby" is seen in this photo posted on her Facebook page.
Shortly after the story was published, a number of Vietnamese readers posted apologies to the cyclist for the ordeal she has been put through at the hands of thieves in their country.
Other readers extended their wishes and hopes that Rasimaite will soon find her beloved bike, with a few saying they would like to gift the girl a brand new one.
The girl is understandably overwhelmed by such unexpected reactions from people she has never met.
“People! I never expected it would get so viral!” she wrote in the latest Facebook update on Friday.
Rasimaite expressed her thanks to “all the messages and the support [she is] receiving,” before joking that she may “employ a press assistant to help [her] out to reply to all of the messages [she is] receiving.”
The traveler asserted in the Facebook post that she fell in love with Vietnam and its people long time ago, and that a few bad individuals will not change her opinion about the country and its people.
“I found Vietnamese to be such a welcoming and amazing people but now I am left speechless!” she said.
“You give me hope that I will get my beloved bike back… Thank you for sharing and caring!”
In a separate talk with Tuoi Tre, Rasimaite said she appreciates all offers to ‘compensate’ her with a new bike, but she is “still hoping [she] will be able to get [hers] back first.”
She also applauded the staff at her hostel for being so supportive and helpful.
“Not everyone would care about their guest the way they did. I really appreciate it with all my heart,” she said. “I promised myself to return here soon."
‘I will come back’
Rasimaite told Tuoi Tre she arrived in Hanoi on May 10, and started cycling one week later, pedaling alone through northern Vietnam and past popular towns and cities such as Mai Chau, Moc Chau, Ha Giang, and Ha Long.
She was then joined by a friend and they cycled together until they reached Ho Chi Minh City.
Even though she lost her mobile phone in Nha Trang, Rasimaite said she really “fell in love with this country and the people, the lifestyle, the nature, and of course the food.”
While she acknowledges that it is disappointing that the bike theft happened at the end of her amazing trip, she said those things happen everywhere in the world and she still loves Vietnam “as much as [she] did before.”
“You can’t judge all the amazing people that I met based on a few bad experiences,” she told Tuoi Tre.
Rasimaite is scheduled to leave for Bali to meet her family on Friday afternoon, but “[she] already made [herself] promise to come back as soon as [she] can.”
“I would love to live and work in Vietnam and keep exploring the country by bicycle," she said.
“I learned that I need to be more careful, but it won't change my opinion about Vietnam.
“I met too many amazing, very kind and welcoming people here and it was the best experience of my life."