Mr. Kees Leijen, an aeronautical engineer in Amsterdam, just finished his solo journey across Vietnam on October 9.
In early 2020, Kees Leijen, 60 years old, first came to Ho Chi Minh City and had many good impressions of Vietnam. So he plans to return to this place again. But due to Covid-19, he can only travel online.
At that time, he happened to read an article about famous places in Hanoi by a travel blogger and found it very interesting. The more he learns, the more impressed he is with the country and people of Vietnam. That’s also when he decided to go through Vietnam when the translation ended.
On September 9, Kees Leijen returned to Vietnam for the second time and chose Ho Chi Minh City as the first stop. The reason is that he “has a sense of familiarity”: “This place helps me integrate faster, confidently conquering other destinations”. He said there was a bit of anxiety at that time because there were difficulties due to language barriers, climate, way of transportation and cultural differences. Fortunately, he received enthusiastic support from Vietnamese friends. They knew about his plan and supported this trip across Vietnam.
From Ho Chi Minh City, he took a car to Can Tho, explored the Mekong Delta and immersed himself in the lives of people in the West. During his days in the South, he also had the opportunity to return to the Cu Chi tunnels on an evening tour.
Kees Leijen moved to Da Lat and then to Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue. When he visited the central provinces, the weather was not favorable. However, he still feels a natural beauty and enjoys the delicious food here. He had just left Da Nang one day when Typhoon Noru made landfall. Looking at the images of the storm on the media, he sympathized with the people in the Central region and was also happy to know that there was no loss of life.
Loving culture, history and unspoiled nature, this time he spent a lot of time in the North, through places: Mai Chau, Moc Chau, Hanoi, Perfume Pagoda, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay…
Language differences also sometimes make it difficult for Kees Leijen, especially in Moc Chau, where most people cannot communicate in English. But the hospitality and enthusiasm of the people helped him quickly adapt. “I will remember this forever,” the male tourist from the Netherlands shared.
In Bac Ninh, he met a Vietnamese friend. This person had communicated with him online before, and helped Kees set out for a trip across Vietnam. The friend’s family gave a warm welcome, surprising and touching the Dutch male tourist. He was led by friends to visit historical sites such as Do Temple, and Phat Tich Pagoda, and listen to Quan Ho folk songs.
Commenting on Vietnamese cuisine, Kees said it was better than the food in other Southeast Asian countries he had visited. His favorite food in Vietnam is boiled chicken dipped in chili pepper lemon and milk tea. “It’s a great drink,” he said. However, after staying here for a month, he began to miss the food back home.
Closing the trip through Vietnam with many emotions and beautiful memories, Kees Leijen said he will forever remember this hospitable and loving land. He hopes his story will inspire young people to set out to explore and conquer the world.
Mr. Kees Leijen also revealed his plan to return to Vietnam with a completely new role as a guide for U60 friends from the Netherlands. This is his way to introduce Vietnam to international friends. At the same time, it is also a thank you for the love he has received during the past month on the S-shaped strip of land.
Keyword: Dutch engineer 30 days to cross Vietnam alone