Vietnamese American who walks through Vietnam without money

VietNamNet Bridge - Tran Hung John, a young Vietnamese American man, is walking from the north to the south of Vietnam without taking any money along to prove to the world the hospitability and friendliness of the Vietnamese people.

Hung John said he was motivated to do this after reading uncomplimentary comments about Vietnam by foreign bloggers.

“These comments are not good for Vietnam’s tourism,” he said.

The 23-year-old left Hanoi on June 12 and estimated it will take him two or three months to get to HCM City.

“I hope local people can support me with food, accommodation and transportation,” he said

Born and brought up in the US, John graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of California last year. Previously, he had spent four months studying at the Hanoi University.

After graduation, John returned to Vietnam and worked as a host on Vietnam Multimedia Corporation’s (VTC) channel VTC10, and then Vietnam Television’s VTV4 channel. He has quit his job to implement the journey though his parents and friends were not in favor of this trip.

John said his mother wants him to live in the US and support his family business, but he wants to be in Vietnam.

He said his love for Vietnam originated from his grandmother’s stories about Vietnam and the kindness of people.

“I am Vietnamese and I want to live in Vietnam to help my fatherland.”

John has received support and encouragement from many people here.

Below is Hung John’s experience during his trans-Vietnam journey:

It’s been nearly a month and half and I’ve finally reached the halfway point of my journey through Vietnam. What an absolutely incredible experience it has been.  

Living and working alongside Vietnamese people I feel the true essence and spirit of Vietnam and its people.

I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life, listen to their stories, and begin to understand the beauty of my homeland. But I’m sad to say that despite all the beauty and goodness, I can’t ignore the ugly truth: Being divided has allowed imperialism which supposedly ended many years ago, to resurrect and become as strong as ever.

We fantasize about foreigners as though they are above us. Every time we eat at fast food places such as KFC, Lotteria, etc.. and the more we buy foreign products just because its “foreign”, the more our country and the people loses money. Small sacrifices need to be made to protect and preserve our country.  
Language centers are another example where we are taken advantage of. They hire foreigners not based on their qualifications, but on the fact that they look “foreign.” “You have yellow hair and blue eyes, but don’t have teaching qualification or experience. No problem; Vietnamese people don’t know the difference.” Many language centers hire foreigners from countries where English isn’t even their native language. And we all ask why many of us study English for so many years and can’t improve.

Our youth is so infatuated with American, Korean, and other pop culture that many don’t even care about Vietnamese culture and traditions. Our television and music is littered with foreign programming or replicates of foreign style.

Why am I treated so differently when Vietnamese people think I’m a foreigner as opposed to a Vietnamese. Like many people have said to me, this journey is much easier for you because you’re still American, but if you were Vietnamese like us it would be so hard.

That is very sad to hear. Sad because despite the countless number of people who have helped me on my journey, giving me a place to stay, food to eat, sharing their life with me, the majority did not have faith in other Vietnamese people.

As a people we have grown divided and the sense of community that made us so strong before is fading, even in the countryside. In Ha Tinh, I visited two communes that were right next to one another, with the same environment, but while one commune was well off, the other was considerably poorer and many people struggled to feed their family.

In Hanoi, it was very common for people, even old ladies, to fall off their motorbikes with no one stopping to help. How could this be?

United we stand, divided we fall, and in my opinion, our divide and disconnect from one another is leading to our demise. Along my journey I’ve never once heard compliments being given, only criticism and putdowns about my neighbor or the other commune or province, or people in this region is like this or that. Its time for us to stop and realize that we are only contributing more to each other’s suffering and hardship.

It’s never too late to start, but we must start now. I envision a strong and beautiful Vietnam notorious around the world for being a great country, but the only way to accomplish this is if we work together as a community. It’s time to put all our differences aside and unite for a common goal, protecting and preserving Vietnam for future generations. No more discrimination against where you are from because we are all a part of Vietnam. My hope is to connect and unite Vietnamese people all around the world and in Vietnam so we can work towards this ultimate goal.

Despite being born in America, Vietnam is my home country, my blood is Vietnamese and my heart lies with the Vietnamese people. So I’m calling on everyone who truly loves and cares this country to come together, united as one, so we can build a better Vietnam for the future.

Compiled by Thanh Van