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|Phan Vu Minh and his wheelchair (Photo: VnExpress)|
Minh moved with his family from the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long to Saigon at a young age, and suffered spinal deformity at the age of 11. He was unable to walk normally and suffered chronic pain.
A failed surgery at the age of 18 left him bound to a wheelchair.
At first he rarely went out because he did not want strangers to ask him about his condition, but gradually, encouraged by his relatives, he began to venture out. He realized people were not looking at him with pity but with basic human sympathy and kindness.
In 2017 Minh decided to make his first trip to the neighboring province of Bac Lieu to visit a friend with the same condition as him, according to VnExpress.
|Minh in his modified motorbike (Photo: VnExpress)|
"He and I were at the same hospital. The two of us promised to visit each other’s hometown after being discharged. Hopefully in future I can invite him to my hometown."
A week before the trip he came up with the idea of turning his motorbike into a three-wheel vehicle, and got a distant relative to do it for him. He rode to Bac Lieu on his "super vehicle," as he calls it.
In June 2019 Minh and his nephew went on a trip to explore the provinces and cities between Vinh Long and Hue. What Minh had only seen on television unfolded in front of his eyes as the two began their series of discoveries.
|Minh at the Hue Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO world heritage site, in central Vietnam (Photo: VnExpress)|
"It turns out that real life is more beautiful than what is shown on television, and I've finally been able to make it here.", Minh said.
Before each trip, he carefully prepares items like pots, a gas cooker, shrimp noodles, dry foods, and weightlifting equipment.
"My only problem is I can't stand. Otherwise, I am capable of doing everything myself.
|Minh on the way to Dak Nong in February (Photo: Star)|
"My nephew and I really enjoy traveling. Because my nephew is still in school, the trips are usually in summer."
Strangers often ask him: "Why do you travel this far in this condition instead of taking a bus?"
Minh tells them riding the motorbike allows him to make stops for rest along the road when he wants and makes sightseeing more convenient.
|Minh explored Eo Gio, Quy Nhon in 2019 (Photo: Star)|
Initially the long rides in summer tired him out, but discovering new lands and delicious foods and making friends along the way have been so rewarding that it no longer bothers him.
"In the past I used to be self-deprecating and afraid to express personal thoughts. But ever since I began traveling, I talk more and share stories with people I meet on the road."
|Minh with his super vehicle (Photo: Star)|
Over the past four years, despite his disability, Minh has traveled to more than 20 provinces and cities across Vietnam. For close trips in a week, they cost Minh about VND 5 million (US$ 214), the most distant trip to Hue costs VND 30 million (US$ 1286).
In order to have money to travel, Minh sold seedlings. Minh imported Thai persimmons to sell with the capital of VND 7 million (US$ 300). He finds a wholesaler, practices how to take care of the roses, sets up an advertising website, and has gradually had a stable number of customers, according to Star.
"Not only in the country, if an international driver's license, health and economy permits, I will go to neighboring countries," Minh said.
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