Ho Nhat Ha has released a book entitled Di Bo Xuyen Viet Voi Cay Dan Guitar (Walking Through Vietnam with a Guitar), which records his memorable 113-day journey on foot around Vietnamexploring nature, people, and himself.
The 344-page book contains 16 'lessons' about life Ha learned on the journey, which are also 16 'beliefs' that helped him complete the 2,300km trip with guitar in hand. For example, each person has his or her own morale that helps them overcome any circumstances to lead a happy life, people should live in harmony with nature, and every dream can be realised with effort.
Ho Nhat Ha
In addition to life lessons, the 33-year-old man includes knowledge he gained on the trip, like survival skills, communication skills, and coping skills.
Recounted chronologically, Walking Through Vietnam with a Guitar begins with Ha getting in shape to prepare for the trip and then departing HCM City in October 2017 and heading north towards Ha Giang Province on the border with China.
He brought along just a few changes of clothes, some food, medicine, a hammock, a guitar, and VND100,000 (US$4).
To earn money along the way, Ha utilised his ability to sing and write music. The young man from the south-central province of Phu Yen challenged himself to compose 24 songs inspired by people around.
He took the journey, he said, to seek answers to questions that occupied his mind.
“I wondered what the similarities are among Vietnamese from each region, how they treat each other, and if young people dare to overcome the first obstacle -- money -- to realise their dreams,” he said.
“Travelling with just VND100,000 proves that the most important thing in fulfilling your dream is being consistent and moving forward despite the judgments of others.
“Other goals are mental training and learning. I used to study hard at school but now it is time to study in life, the lessons of which are not the same as those taught at school.”
The happiest outcome of his adventure, he believed, was being able to answer the questions he had.
“The greatest value is in life lessons that can only be learned by venturing out into the world ourselves,” he said.
He began writing his book as soon as he finished his adventure and returned to HCM CIty .
As an amateur writer, though, he found it a challenging process.
But the thought that he must share his experience with people he encountered along the way motivated him to plough on.
So, he set himself a challenge of writing for 24 days straight, locking himself in a room, not going out, and not using social media.
The result was a 300-page draft of Walking Through Vietnam with a Guitar.
“My 113-day trip has countless stories to tell about the people and landscapes of Vietnam, but as I can’t recall them all I have selected the best,” he explained.
“I accepted everything and let it happen naturally, so I could fully experience the trip, even though it meant there were both happy and sad times.”
Walking Through Vietnam with a Guitar also includes Ha’s collection of impromptu songs written on the journey, among which is Vietnam Trong Tim Toi! (Vietnam in My Heart!). It includes the chorus Ta la anh em mot nha (We are siblings of one family), which affirms the solidarity of the north and the south of the country.
What has pleased him the most is the positive reviews he’s received from readers, which have strengthened his belief that everything you desire can be yours as long as you have the determination. Where you started out is not remotely important.
“I hope to send a message to the young about the spirit of the Vietnamese people and the way to realise your dreams,” he said.
“Life has many interesting things to discover. As a young person, if you bravely take to the road you will never regret anything. So, leave your comfort zone and pursue your dreams to the end. It is a great way to live.”
Nguyen Huy Thiep, one of the most influential Vietnamese contemporary writers, has released a special publication to mark his 70th birthday.