|Rear Admiral Phạm Như Xuân, Deputy Commander of the Navy (first left) signs the special flag Trần Đặng Đăng Khoa (second left), the first Vietnamese world traveller by motorbike, carried with him to Trường Sa Archipelago. VNA/VNS Photo Diệp Trương|
HÀ NỘI — Even by Trần Đặng Đăng Khoa's standards, the first Vietnamese person to ride around the world on a motorbike, the trip he took in mid-May was special.
The 35-year-old spent more than 1,000 days riding circumnavigating the globe, setting foot on every continent and meeting many different people with stories and experiences as varied as the places they were from.
But his trip to Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago and DK1 platform in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) brought him a totally different experience, which he described as unique and touching.
Khoa said he was extremely lucky to join the delegation to Trường Sa Island district in south-central Khánh Hòa Province after a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a trip he has been eagerly waiting for, and the last place left in Việt Nam that Khoa dreamed of visiting.
Comfort on the road
Khoa was born in southern Tiền Giang Province. He started his three-year journey around the world on his beloved motorcycle on June 1, 2017 at Mộc Bài Border Gate in Tây Ninh Province.
The young, energetic man spent 20 years dreaming of this journey of his lifetime and more than two years preparing for the trip. He had previously undertaken smaller adventures in Việt Nam and some Southeast Asian countries before starting his way around the world.
On these trips, no matter the size, Khoa would always carry the Vietnamese flag wherever he went.
A keen photographer, Khoa captured snapshots of the places, people and his experience of new cultures. Every present in his photos is the national flag.
Khoa said the sacred yellow star red flag had travelled about 80,000 km with him, through over 65 countries and territories and crossing the equator eight times, everywhere from Europe and North America to Africa, Central America, the Middle East, South America, and Oceania.
The flag even followed him to remote places like the Greenland and Svalbard Island close to the North Pole, down to areas in the Amazon, Patagonia and Antarctica.
The flag was an important companion to him over 1,111 days of travelling around the world and fulfilling his biggest dream.
|Overseas Vietnamese citizens pose with Khoa and his flag on the trip. VNA/VNS Photo Diệp Trương|
On this nine-day trip, Khoa carried a flag he was given by a friend after his trip to Phan Vinh Island – the only island in Trường Sa Archipelago named after Hero of Martyrs Nguyễn Phan Vinh.
The friend gave the flag to Khoa before the trip, hoping he would have the journey full of memories.
Unique, touching voyage
The journey of more than 1,000 nautical miles on Trường Sa 571 Vessel brought him many beautiful and touching memories.
At the cultural exchange event on the deck of the vessel on May 22, Khoa shared his seven-continent motorbike journey. He told stories about the destinations he visited and the people he met over 1,000 days travelling across the world.
Khoa said he had been to many places since he started his trip on June 1, 2017, but the days on board with marine soldiers became the most impressive memory of his adventure trips.
He was impressed by the soldiers and people on Trường Sa Island, who always do their best to fulfil their assigned tasks, overcome difficulties and dedicate themselves to defending the islands.
“After going through all the continents of the world, I’ve finally arrived at Trường Sa Island and carried the flag with me to the country’s sea and islands. I feel very happy and honoured,” Khoa said.
Khoa said he always introduced Việt Nam to international friends when he has the chance. Many people he met by chance invited him over for dinner to have deep talks about Việt Nam, its history and its people.
Now, Khoa has another story to tell, of Trường Sa Island and the soldiers and people protecting it.
At the end of the trip to Trường Sa Island, Khoa said being able to set foot on the island made him satisfied and happy.
“If you have a chance to visit Trường Sa Island and DK1 platform, go for it and see and feel with your own eyes and heart the oath to defend the sovereignty of the sea and sacred islands of the soldiers and people there and their efforts to protect the peace of our country,” he said. — VNS