Sunday, 30/07/2023 08:52

Boy bikes 2,800km across Southeast Asia

Nông Quang Anh has made two long trips at the age of 10. He biked across Việt Nam in 2022 and travelled around four ASEAN countries in 2023. Photo courtesy of Nông Quang Duy

  Thanh Hà

Travelling through four countries and overcoming 2,800km by bike in just a month, 10-year-old Nông Quang Anh has made an incredible journey that he will never forget.

The trip began when Anh finished his school for his summer holiday. His father Nông Quang Duy decided to "design a trip that would help him to face challenges and never give up because of difficulties".

"I was suggested about the trip by a friend after we had had a cross-country journey last year. After searching, I found that a route from Việt Nam to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand was suitable for us. I spoke with Quang Anh and he was very responsive," Duy said.

Memorable journey

The father and son spent nearly one year for the trip and in the last two months preparing documents, passports, personal belongings and knowledge about the cultures, customs and traditions of the countries they were visiting.

Their journey began on June 1 from their home town of Lạng Sơn Province with a target of 100km per day in 30 days. They first came to Hà Nội and entered Laos' capital Vientiane through the Cầu Treo Border Gate in Hà Tĩnh Province. They then moved to Bangkok of Thailand before Phnom Penh of Cambodia and ended their trip in HCM City.

"Although it was a long trip, my father and I just took simple stuff, including five sets of clothes, a bike repair kit, spare inner tubes, medicine, personal items and documents. I also practised cycling every day to improve my fitness," Anh told Việt Nam News.

Nông Quang Anh and his father check in at the Patuxai monument in Vientiane, Laos, during their 30-day trip. — Photo courtesy of Nông Quang Duy

 "We also learned some common words and simple communication sentences in the Lao language so that we could speak with the locals. However, we were a little lazy, so we didn't remember much. As a result, we used body language and gestures, and sometimes a little English to speak with local people.

“In Laos, I met a man and an old lady who spoke Vietnamese really well. And I was happy to speak with them and learnt much interesting information."

After 11 days from the start of their trip, the duo arrived in Vientiane where Anh visited the Patuxai monument, the Vientiane Public Library and the Presidential Palace before having a walk along the Mekong River.

“I visited Pha That Luang in the city. This was the first time I saw such a massive gold-covered large Buddhist stupa," said Quang Anh who has practised cycling since he was five.

“Vientiane is a beautiful and ancient city with friendly people. But it is pretty hard to find a restaurant. There are few inns and street vendors, which is different from Hà Nội." 

After two days visiting the Lao capital, they went on their trip, and it took them six days to arrive in Bangkok. Quang Anh also admired the city's renowned destinations such as Wat Pho, one of the largest and oldest pagodas, the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings and the well-known floating market.

“I am overwhelmed with Bangkok, a modern and developed city. The traffic system is complicated, with many overpasses and elevated railways, very different from HCM City and Hà Nội," he said. 

Nông Quang Anh poses when he is in Bangkok, Thailand. — Photo courtesy of Nông Quang Duy

On the 27th day, they arrived in Phnom Penh. It was rich and modern, far beyond his imagination, with many skyscrapers, hotels and restaurants.

In Cambodia, apart from its iconic landmarks such as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and cable-stayed Neak Loeung Bridge, Anh also checked in at Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. 

On the afternoon of June 30, Anh and his father got to HCM City, ending their 30-day trip.

Travelling to mature

“I have had a wonderful summer holiday. Many people followed our trip and encouraged me, worrying about my health. Cycling is tiring, but I feel very happy. Having my dad by my side, I met almost no difficulty. I was really fine," said Anh.

Nông Quang Anh visits the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. — Photo courtesy of Nông Quang Duy

 "Before and during the trip, sometimes I felt a little nervous and tired, but I never thought of returning home at all. My father told me that if I thought and acted positively I would finish the job, but if my mind was sluggish, afraid, and wanted to give up, my limbs would immediately give up.

"Through the trip, I had a chance to know new customs and traditions while enjoying delicious foods of different areas. I also visited buildings and architectural works that I only saw on TV and in books before. I am really proud of what I have done and overcome. Not only that, but I have learnt many things, which many friends at my age could not."

It was Anh's second long trip with his father. In 2022, he travelled 2,400km across Việt Nam, cycling from Lạng Sơn to Cà Mau Province in 27 days.

Through these days, he explored the national beauty, history and geography and saw many things on his way through many provinces.

Duy said he wanted to make a meaningful summer for his son, and to accomplish something a bit different.

The little boy is in HCM City after 30 days cycling over 2,800km through four countries. — Photo courtesy of Nông Quang Duy

"I can take him to travel by a coach, but he will not have real experience like when he cycles. On the bike, he can see clearly all the surroundings, smell the fragrance of the rice fields, feel how hard it is to overcome a steep slope, and stop at any point when he wants," said Duy.

He also believes that his son will become more mature after each trip, as "he is confident and knows how to handle things when something goes wrong, and also to help people in difficult circumstances."

Duy said he would arrange more trips for his son in the future. It would be in different formats but still brought him interesting and useful experience. VNS

Comments (0)

Related content