A French boy’s journey through Asia to Vietnam
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A French boy’s journey through Asia to Vietnam

Born and raised in France, 25-year-old Clement Nguyen Van Rot is still proud to have Vietnamese blood.

After graduating from university with a major in mathematics and finance, Clement did not choose a job based on his field of study, but cherished a trip around the world to experience different cultures, in which one destination was impossible.

The first challenge was when Clement went to Ukraine on his own in 2011, but unfortunately when he arrived in Crimea, the Frenchman had everything stolen from his passport to money, so he had to return to France.

Clement with his companion horse.

Beginning in October 2012, Clement Nguyen Van Rot and his close friend Raphael Hersant Carbonier took a plane from France to Türkiye.

`The people of the places we visited all told us not to go east because it was a place of conflict and danger, but we didn’t mind and still chose the east to continue,` Clement said.

At that time in Afghanistan, there were frequent bombings involving the French, so when the two boys arrived at the border, they were detained by the Afghan army and escorted by two military vehicles to the base.

`We lived like soldiers in barracks, where many things were bought with bullets, not money,` Clement shared.

After leaving Afghanistan, the two went to Khorog (Tajikistan), they bought a donkey to carry things with the intention of exploring the Badakhashan National Park mountain, which is considered a roof of the world with the Pamir Mountains.

Clement said, the two people walked 10 km of snow-covered mountain road at an altitude of 4,855 m while not having enough food.

`No one in town thought we would cross a snow-covered mountain with a temperature of -25 degrees. When we came down the mountain, many people came to visit,` Clement said.

After hitchhiking by truck to the city of Ost (in the country of Kyrgyzstan), the two decided to buy 3 horses for 3,000 Euros, one to use for transporting things.

At that time, Clement wanted to go to China but could not get a visa, so he had to stay alone in the capital Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), making a living by teaching French.

After getting a visa to China, Clement bought a bicycle in Ili (Xinjiang) and cycled north to China and to Mongolia.

`Coming to Vietnam, I feel like I’m coming home because the people are very friendly, you can come into the house, eat, smoke, drink beer comfortably,` Clement said with a smile.

Clement said, on the bike ride from Lao Cai to Phu Tho, he was also invited by some restaurant owners to eat and sleep over, taught him how to cook Vietnamese food, and even had people volunteer to repair bicycles.

Planning to stay in Vietnam for a year if he finds a job, Clement wants to buy a buffalo to be a companion and help farmers plow fields in Vietnam.

`If you just want to go somewhere, it’s best to Google it for information about that place, but if you want to learn and change your perspective on life, go live with the people there,` Clement

He also said that people may worry that travel costs are quite high, but in reality they are very low compared to daily expenses, because on the way you can bathe in the river, sleep in a tent, and even get food.

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