Viet Nam News
If you want a travel companion, who do you choose? A friend, your partner or lover, or do you choose a family member?
While most young people would choose a friend or their lover, young HCM City resident Phạm Tâm Tuấn Khương chose his maternal grandmother.
Khương was the first grandchild of his grandmother and was raised by her since he was a five-month-old infant.
"My mother got pregnant with my younger brother when I was only five months old. Taking care of a newborn baby plus serious morning sickness was beyond my mother’s capacity at the time, so I was sent to my maternal grandmother to live in the southern coastal city of Vung Tau," Khương said.
His grandmother became his second mother. She was the one who fed Khương every single spoon of milk and stayed awake the whole night through to take care of him when he was sick.
That’s why it’s understandable that when Khương started speaking, his first word ’mom’ was to his grandmother.
"During my childhood, I always called her ’mom’. When I had to part from her and return to my parents in HCM City, I cried everyday because I missed her so much," Khương recalled.
In his memory, his grandmother was an active woman who liked travelling.
His "special mother" always had him with her on almost every trip.
With such a special bond between himself and his grandmother, Khương had always nurtured a dream to take her travelling with him whenever he could earn the money.
"I wanted to show gratitude to the one, who while not giving birth to me, did foster me as a child," Khương said.
After many years, the 24-year-old made his dream come true. He and his grandmother had a wonderful trip together to Phú Quốc Island, located off the southern coast of Việt Nam, in July last year.
His 70-year-old grandmother was very excited when she got the call from her beloved grandchild asking if she could join him for a four-day trip to the island.
"She accepted my offer when she was sure that it would be a low cost trip because she didn’t want me to spend all the money I had earned," Khương said.
Besides the two VNĐ700,000 return tickets, the total expenditure of the trip was only about VNĐ3 million.
"The first criteria my grandmother had was that it must be ’low cost’. It’s hard to convince her to step into a taxi. Instead, she prefers to travel around by rental motorbike. She also prefers to stay in a humble hostel rather than a luxury hotel," Khương said.
During their trip, some people gave him weird looks, like "What? You are travelling with your grandmother?" Khương said he didn’t care, because he just wanted to make his grandmother happy.
As a freelance photographer, Khương didn’t miss the chance to capture all the great moments of their trip. He took hundreds of photos showing how the two of them enjoyed their trip.
Through his lens, his grandmother – with a big smile – immerses herself in clear waters, or looks very cool chasing birds on the beach.
When Khương uploaded his photo collection, entitled Ngoại Ơi, Mình Đi Đâu Thế (Maternal grandmother, where do we go?), to his Facebook page, the young man didn’t expect his photos to receive hundreds of ‘likes’ from his friends.
He said he was very moved when reading the positive comments on his photos because they somehow brought inspiration to some people.
"Many people said they felt regret that their grandmothers had passed away and they didn’t have the chance to do something similar as I’ve done with mine. Others said they would pay more attention to taking care of their family members so they wouldn’t feel this regret in the future," said Khương.
Khương is also founder and leader of the Sharing Kitchen, a charitable group of young volunteers who offer special meals for orphaned children and disadvantaged people.
Last December, Khương and his grandmother made a second trip to Đà Nẵng and Hội An, where his grandmother for the first time experienced riding a 3D horse and watching a 5D movie.
"She is very cool. She doesn’t hesitate to try anything, even a mojito cocktail that she had never sampled before," Khương said.
However, the first try is not always a great experience.
"On our first trip to Phú Quốc, she wanted to join a group of tourists night fishing for squid. But after about 10 minutes on the boat, she got seasick and had to be taken back to shore.
"She wanted to try a mojito when we were in Hội An. After few sips, she turned red from head to toe and looked like a giant lobster. When we got back to our hotel that night, she fell asleep in under three seconds," Khương recalled.
Like on previous trips, all the moments they shared together were posted on his Facebook page, and received warm responses from thousands of viewers. Some online newspapers also ran articles about their wonderful trips.
In an unexpected way, Khương’s grandmother became "famous", so that people recognise her whenever she goes to the morning market.
"I am very happy to see my grandmother receiving so much joy and many smiles during and after our trips," he said.
Khương’s friends now are no longer surprised whenever he tells them about his next travel plans with his grandmother.
"Now they are the ones who tell me about flight promotions so I can schedule a trip for the two of us," the young man said.
The young man now is competing in the ‘Here We Go’ competition for people who like travelling.
"If I win the competition, I will use the cash prize to continue travelling with my special companion – my grandmother. I’m thinking about Singapore or Malaysia, because it is convenient for her to travel to these countries as they are not very far from Việt Nam," Khương said.
At the moment, the only thing Khương wants is his grandmother’s health, so "she can team up with me for our next trips". — VNS