Take it easy: Trần Đặng Đăng Khoa poses in Piacenza.
Viet Nam News
By Minh Thu
A voyager who dares to dream, dares to make dreams come true, who owns true patience and keeps to his chosen path.
That’s how people talk about Trần Đặng Đăng Khoa. Right now, the 30-year-old is on his way around the world, travelling by motorbike.
He spent 20 years dreaming of this journey and two years preparing to make the dream come true. Now he intends to travel 50,000km through 35 countries and territories over the course of two years. His passion is epic and inspires many young people.
“Never give up on your dreams, because nothing is impossible,” said Khoa. “One only lives their life once. That’s enough belief and motivation for me to go.”
Khoa posts a number of photos and stories on his Facebook page everyday, attracting thousands of followers.
He captured photos of the places he visited, people he met and his experience of new cultures.
Recently, when he arrived in Hamburg (Germany), he posted a livestream, giving details of the trip and how he prepared for it.
Khoa was born in the Mekong Delta province of Tiền Giang. Since his childhood, he spent a lot of time reading books on adventure. He dreamed of journeys around the world where he could feel free to discover new lands without adhering to a schedule.
He loves travelling. The trips he took along Việt Nam and other Southeast Asian countries can be considered preparation for the journey of a lifetime around the world. That journey started on June 1 this year.
Khoa said the most difficult part was applying for visas to various countries and the Carnet de Passage en Douane (CPD), an international customs document which covers the temporary admission of a motor vehicle, the passport for his motorbike, nicknamed Memo.
“I couldn’t apply for the CPD in Việt Nam so I had to acquire it in Malaysia,” he said.
“You think travelling abroad is cool and easy, right? It’s definitely not. I have to work hard to get travel visas to many countries, especially when I don’t have information of hotel bookings and flight tickets.”
Khoa submitted detailed plans of his trip, and through sheer determination managed to get permission to enter most countries.
“I can apply for visas to several countries in Việt Nam, such as India and the members of the European Union. Some countries like Georgia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey allow electronic visa applications.”
There are deadlines to apply for visas. That’s why Khoa considered the process like a real job.
“If I don’t meet the deadline, a chance to discover a dream land would slip out of my hands,” he said.
That’s why for some countries where acquiring a visa is not easy, Khoa started the procedure when he was close to the countries. For example, he applied for a visa to Iran when he arrived in Pakistan, to Argentina and other Latin American countries when he arrived France, to Australia when he arrived in Chile.
“English speaking ability is the deciding factor,” Khoa said.
“I prepare the documents and motivation letter carefully and politely to present the plan and convince the authorities to support me.”
“My English knowledge also helps me learn from other travellers around the world.”
“It might require a lot of effort and complicated preparation, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible,” he said.
He also packed carefully for the trip. The first thing was to keep personal papers in waterproof bags.
“Once when I was on the way to leave Athens, I was caught in the rain but I couldn’t stop because I was riding on the highway,” Khoa said.
“Thanks to the habit of keeping papers in waterproof bags, they were still dry while I was soaked.”
Khoa also carried cash, bank cards, portable water filters and three phones.
“I use one phone to take photos and get in touch, one GPS-enabled phone glued to my motorcycle handlebars and one phone switched-off in my bag to use in case the two other phones are broken.”
The trip has helped him to “eat dishes [he’s] never tried before, play games [he’d] never thought of, witness castles, world heritage sites and landscapes [he] only saw on TV before or had never even heard of.”
It also gave him the opportunity to meet interesting people, and other travellers and riders.
“I had a chance to visit the places with stunning beauty, learn about different cultures and religions. I took so many photos.”
Latin style: Trần Đặng Đăng Khoa at Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile.
Looking cool: Khoa and his bike Memo on the snow-capped Alps in Switzerland.
However, there were also times when he felt scared and depressed, such as when he rode through Iran’s scorching hot desert on roads that seemed endless.
Memo has broken down multiple times but Khoa has always managed to put it back together.
Though he certainly had ups and downs, Khoa said the journey had given him some remarkable experiences.
“One thing I felt lucky about was that I never had any serious accidents or illnesses while on the road,” he said.
Khoa reached the halfway point of his journey to “explore the world” by motorbike in October.
The first half of Khoa’s journey was 20,000km, costing him 500 litres of gasoline and 25 bottles of motor oil, and taking him through 23 countries and territories: Việt Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France.
After arriving in Paris, Khoa spent time planning his onward route, expected to include northern Europe, South, Central and maybe North America, and Australia, before returning to Southeast Asia and Việt Nam in the next 365 days.
Currently he’s in Chile learning Spanish, with the aim of exploring Latin America.
"A journey is not measured by the number of kilometres covered but by the number of friends made. Only now do I fully understand that statement," Khoa said.
Khoa estimated the trip will cost a total of VNĐ1 billion (US$500,000). The money will come from his savings, a salary from writing travel blogs, news and advertisements, and money from sponsors.
After the trip around the world, he will have a short break before planning another trip to the South Pole. VNS