A Vietnamese man was rescued by Thai navy forces on Wednesday after he was found paddling an inflatable boat alone toward India to see his wife, from whom he had been separated by COVID-19 for over two years, the Bangkok Post reported.
A fishing boat reported seeing the Vietnamese man paddling at sea at 11:50 am on Wednesday, about 14 kilometers off the Similan Islands and 80 kilometers off the southern Thai province of Phangnga, the Bangkok Post quoted a representative from the Third Fleet as saying.
When sailors and marine park rangers reached the man at 12:45 pm that same day, they found Ho Hoang Hung, 37, on a rubber boat tied to the fishing vessel.
There were a nearly-empty drinking water bottle, a suitcase, and about 10 packets of instant noodles on the 2.5-meter-long rubber boat.
The Vietnamese man told them he was paddling to India to meet his Indian wife in Mumbai.
The two got married two years ago, he said, but were separated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The man said he arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport from Ho Chi Minh City on March 2.
His original plan was to board another flight to India but was unable to obtain a visa.
Instead, he took a bus from Bangkok to Phuket and bought an inflatable boat.
He launched it on March 5 with his sights set on paddling his way to India -- about 2,000 kilometers away.
Fishermen found him after he had spent 18 nights alone at sea.
Thai officials brought him to the office of the Mu Ko Similan National Park in Phangnga to arrange further assistance.
After a two-year suspension, Vietnam has resumed international flights to 20 destinations since February 15, 2022, the third year the Southeast Asian country has struggled with COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, Vietnam had operated flights to 28 destinations.
Eight have yet to agree to the resumption of flights -- namely Brunei, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Macau, Myanmar, and Switzerland.