At 6:30 in the morning, after having breakfast, An went to the kitchen to make coffee. Thuan came back from the garden, and the couple sipped a cup of coffee together in theỉ log house, overlooking the garden full of flowers.
A day in the woods starts with breakfast, coffee, reading book, then going to the garden to work.
That is a typical morning of Thanh An and My Thuan since they moved into the forest nearly 2 years ago.
Several years ago, An was a real estate agent, while Thuan was a marketing officer. Like other young people living in Saigon, they went out for coffee or drink with friends almost every day. They never cooked at home and their day used to end at 11-12 pm.
Then one day, they wondered: "Is that my life?"
Both thought of escaping from their comfort zones.
For a long time, Thuan told An about his dream of having a garden of flowers and fruit trees and going to the rural to become a farmer and his idea was warmly support by his wife. An's mother - a businesswoman who always encouraged her son to do business to get rich – was worried about her son’s proposal. The biggest worry was whether her son and his wife, both were only 23 at that time, were able to realize their dream. Before giving money for Thuan to buy land, she asked the couple to sign an agreement.
With investment from the mother, the couple traveled everywhere to find a suitable plot of land. Initially, the couple wanted to find a plot of land in Lam Dong province but they could afford to buy it. They moved to Dak Nong where land prices were lower. After a hard, long time trying to find an appropriate plot of land, they finally found a plot of 10 hectares of land, which included a wooden house next to a small lake. Thuan knew that he belonged to this place immediately when he saw pictures of the land.
“Actually, we decided to buy it for the house and the lake, not thinking about other important factors. It was also because of that wooden house and lake, that we decided to settle down here. At the beginning, we only planned to buy land to build a farm for business,” Thuan said.
The house of Thuan and An.
Only 3-4 days after seeing the first pictures of the land, Thuan and An met the land owner to buy the land. But they began to worry about the new life in the remote area.
A month later, the young couple began trialing their life in the forest. Thuan left her luxurious dresses in Saigon to take several simple outfits and her dog to the new house.
The first night sleeping in the wooden house was indeed a memorable night. "It was about 12 degrees Celsius. We only had a thin blanket, lying on the floor. We had no electricity and water so we could not even have a bath," Thuan recalled.
During their first days without electricity and water, they had to use candles and installed plastic pipes to lead water from woodland edge to the house. It was very often to see snakes and scorpions on the house.
“Telephone and 3G signals here is very fluttering. Sometimes I had to travel 4km to the commune center to make phone calls,” An said.
Labor has turned An – a “playboy” - into a grown man.
Three months after moving to the forest, An's mother came to visit them from Ho Chi Minh City. Seeing such scenes, she burst into tears and asked her children to return home. But she did not know that, at that time, Thuan and An already felt "happy" with their new life.
If Thuan was born into a rural family, An is a true 'son' of Saigon. From a fumbling guy, who could not do any housework, now he can split firewood, cook, do other housework and even farm works.
After nearly 2 years working hard as true farmers, the young people currently have 2 hectares of macadamia, 1 hectare of coffee, 1 hectares of fruit trees and they are going to have 1 hectare medicinal plants.
They did not use chemicals or pesticides so the productivity is not high but their products are true organic. “Each day we do gardening for about 4-5 hours. The rest time we read, talk and do other works together,” Thuan said.
In addition to income-generating trees, the couple also planted forest trees, in the hope for having a multi-layer canopy environment that is good for the ecosystem in the future.
This is the area planned for medicinal plants.
Since settling dơn in the forest, Thuan and An's life has changed completely. Their skin is darker and they get thinner, but they are also stronger. “We go to bed very early, at 8-9 pm and get up early in the morning, then have breakfast, drink coffee, and read a book. I live in a slower and more peaceful pace. I have deeper thought of life. But what I feel most deeply is the understanding my parents’ hardships,” An said.
An tried to persuade his mother to live with him and his wife in the forest. At first, An's mother was not interested in the idea and she only visited the couple and stayed for a few days with them whenever she had free time. Recently, she bought a plot of land nearby, and was planning to settle down here soon.
“After a while, I realized that we can't live alone forever like this. We need neighbors, Thuan said. The couple are dreaming about having like-minded people who share the same viewpoint with them to move to this land to build a community together. “In the future, we can even welcome tourists who want to experience authentic forest life,” she said.
After many difficulties in the first days, the couple are enjoying a peaceful life.
Thuan said at the end of this year, they will have the first neighbors – a family with two children.
“We don't worry about education, healthcare or facilities. The children here can still go to school. The school is 4km away. Kids can study online. There are many online courses available, just with Internet connection. The greatest thing is that our children will be able to live in harmony with nature with wonderful memories. The only thing we worry about is that they need friends to communicate to,” Thuan said.
With their new neighbors, Thuan’s worry will be solved.
Thuan said there are many young people who like a natural lifestyle and they can leave the streets to go to the forest or the rural area to live. “Maybe that life is not as beautiful and sparkling as you can see in the press or social networks. But give it a try. Since we are young, we are allowed to make mistake. If it's wrong, we'll do it again".
The couple held a small wedding in August.
They now have five dogs.
The peaceful life of the young couple.
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