VietNamNet Bridge – Nine months of traveling with electric bikes, Nguyen Thuy Anh and her Spanish husband went through many countries. Their journey around the world had to stop in Italy because Thuy Anh was pregnant.
Young, beautiful with shot hair, Thuy Anh looks tiny besides her tall Western husband. Having exchanges with partners, sometimes Guim Valls Teruel turned to lovingly look at his wife. After seeing each other for the first time in 2009, the Spanish man returned to Vietnam to see his future wife.
The couple fell in love after Thuy Anh interviewed Guim when he came to Vietnam during his voyage around the world by bicycle. They maintained contact via email then. In 2010, Guim returned to Vietnam and a year later, they got married.
To share with her husband, Thuy Anh decided to join him to travel around the world with an electric bike. They departed Hanoi a few days after Valentine’s Day 2011.
Thuy Anh says that before the trip, she prepared a suitcase of clothes and shoes. Seeing this, her husband yelled and allowed his wife to take three pairs of socks, two pants, three shirts with minimal personal items with her. “In my luggage, the most luxury items were a reformed ao dai, a pair of high heels and a book,” Thuy Anh says.
The couple brought with them pots and a gas stove. They also took laptops and cameras to send clips and pictures to television programs. In every place they visited, the couple held a press conference to encourage people to ride bicycles instead of motorcycles or cars to restrict environmental pollution.
There was a time when Thuy Anh almost gave up because of confusion and arguing with her husband. At the border between Vietnam and Laos, they had to overcome the mountain in freezing weather while their bikes were out of batteries; they were also out of food.
The couple walked on the road with two bikes weighing 60 kg and 80 kg. Standing in the middle of the road to block cars for a few times, they got a ride down the mountain.
In India, their money dried up, Thuy Anh and her husband started quarreling. Going to Asian countries, they spent about $40 dollars a day but in Europe, that number doubled. Thuy Anh lost her direction in the trip. But then the couple talked and they together continued the trip.
Thuy Anh, an editor of the national VTV says that the trip left a lot of memories. They stayed for three months in India even though she had to take a week to adapt to the loud car horn, the streets filled with garbage and hot weather. During that period, Thuy Anh experienced the local life, learned the local culture and meditation.
“Upon arrival in the city of Kolkata, the characteristic smells of incense, curry, sweat and hot weather straightly shocked into my nose. There was no woman on the street. Particularly, the highway was empty but when I stopped, just a few seconds later, a group of men stood around and watched me with curious eyes,” Thuy Anh recalls.
The first time she was surrounded by a group of strange men who standing around her at extremely close range, Thuy Anh was panicked and confused. Later, finding out no danger, she smiled comfortably with them.
Before going to India, the couple was alerted of kidnapping and rape in India and advised to go on the highway instead of footpaths.
Knowing the Ganges River and the water burial in India, Thuy Anh was still shocked when she eye witnessed it.
Renting a room in an inn near the Ganges River, each morning she could observe the daily habits of the natives.
“This river section is the place where the dead ashes is scattered but the next river section is the site where locals bath and wash clothes. The live of the people here is closely connected with beliefs and rituals. For them, death is the beginning of a new life,” she says.
Not used to Indian food, in the early days, Thuy Anh got stomachaches. Learning from experience, the couple only took fried rice with egg. They cycled 100 km per day on average.
After India, they planed to visit Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. But that time Pakistan was instable after the dead of Osama bin Laden and his wife, so the couple flew to Iran. They had two weeks there before going to Greece after Turkey refused to give a visa.
“In Greece, we were warmly welcomed and did not have to pay for hotels. Guim tried to connect to the associations of bikers for exchange and ask for help. So we did not face any difficulty,” Thuy Anh says.
Goodbye to Greece to go to Italy, the couple’s luggage was filled by the gifts of local people. In Italy, Thuy Anh found out that she was pregnant for 8 weeks so she decided to take a train to her husband’s home in Barcelona, Spain. Instead of going with his wife on the train, Guim cycled to “chase” Thuy Anh. After 10 hours on the train, Thuy Anh was picked up by her parents-in-law in Barcelona. Guim came home 45 days later. Thuy Anh stayed there for two months and the couple flew back to Vietnam to live.
More than a year after the trip through eight countries, the couple and their small daughter now living with Thuy Anh’s parents in a house on Xuan Dieu Street, Hanoi. She is still an editor at VTV while her husband is busy with his bar, which is also a destination for bikers.
Referring to her husband, Thuy Anh says happily: “Guim is very dynamic and thoughtful. Sometimes on the road, he sped up and shouted I love you.”
Before coming to Vietnam, Guim was a manager for a restaurant in Beijing, China. Seeing that most people biked, Guim flashed the idea of making a world-around journey to call for the people to protect the environment. The electric bikes that he and his wife used in the trip were sponsored by a UK bike company. The bikes are powered by a lithium battery, which can be rechargeable by solar energy or manually charged. He has opened a bar which is also a bike shop in Hanoi.
Every day, he and his daughter often chat with his parents in Spain. Every year, their small family flies to Spain to visit the family. Guim said his family will have a cycling trip to America in the future.
The couple traveling on the road:
Compiled by Tran Cham
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