Impressed by Vietnam's mystery, Russian man conquers tourist route on motorbike
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A photo of terraced rice fields in the northern Yen Bai Province, 2020. Photo by Ivan Os.
After growing accustomed to Vietnamese traffic, Ivan Os had spent the past six years traveling to many parts of the country before the new Covid wave sprang up.
"Before visiting Vietnam, I thought the country was not impressive and maybe similar to many other places. However, I completely changed my mind after my trips and now want to tell the world about interesting things of Vietnam," the 53-year-old Russian said.
Os came to Vietnam in 2015 and settled down in the south central province of Binh Thuan. At first, it was not easy for him to immediately adapt to the lifestyle, culture, cuisine or even traffic in Vietnam.
Although he had previously driven large displacement motorcycles in other Asian countries, he said learning to ride a motorbike and getting accustomed to traffic in Vietnam took him much longer.
In his early years in Vietnam, he spent time exploring the sand dunes, famous beaches and Champa temples of Binh Thuan, home to famous resort town Mui Ne, much loved by Russian expats.
Then, he drove his motorbike to famous tourist towns like Da Lat, Nha Trang and Phan Rang. The more he learned about the country and its people, the more attracted he became.
During summer last year, he traveled by motorbike from Mui Ne to Da Lat past coastal destination like Nha Trang and Da Nang onto northern provinces including Ninh Binh, Quang Ninh, Hanoi, Cao Bang, Son La and Lao Cai. For nearly three months, he drove to even the most remote northern mountains on a journey of over 7,000 kilometers. However, he has yet to reach the southern part of Mekong Delta.
He said the place he loved most was Mu Cang Chai, a remote rural district in Yen Bai Province famous for its winding terraces and distinctive ethnic minority identity.
During his trips, Os suffered minor traffic accidents, causing damage to his camera and motorbike.
"Vietnam has diverse nature and a rich culture preserved for generations. Maybe that's why I fell in love with this country. Vietnam is like my second home," Ivan said.
He said he was also impressed by the cuisine in the northern region. Pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), seafood and Vietnamese beer are all his favorites. On the way, he was also invited to try "specialties" like pipe tobacco, but he had to refuse it for fear of getting high.
Compared to other places he used to visit like Russia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, Vietnam has a quite pleasant climate. At any time, you can find a cool place to remove all sorrow and stress like a sunny beach or highlands retreat, he said.
Due to the new Covid wave that resulted in travel restrictions, his planned trips have been suspended. Os said he now spends most of his time making documentaries about Vietnam via video clips he has recorded during his journeys.
"Vietnam is a rapidly developing country but I still hope urbanization would not hurt nature and that the traditional crafts of ethnic minorities would not be lost," he said.