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American movies inspire Vietnamese family to take memorable van life road trips



Lam Son, a Hanoian, first learned about the nomadic lifestyle after watching American movies depicting mobile homes parked in the middle of vast valleys.

This was the source of inspiration for the Vietnamese YouTuber to set out on his first road trip in a mobile home with his family a couple of years ago.

Son converted his old Mercedes Sprinter into a mobile home fully equipped with essential items for long-haul road trips.

“This was originally a van. When traveling, my family members sit in the driver’s cabin full of safety equipment. We only use the renovated part on the back of the vehicle at rest stops or campgrounds,” the 35-year-old said.

Since he renovated his first mobile home, the Son family has traveled to many parts of Vietnam on the vehicle, bringing exhilarating experiences to their two children.

He expects the road trips will make their childhood more colorful and help them unplug from screens to fully experience van life.

Lam Son's children view natural landscape from their mobile home during a trip. Photo: Supplied

Lam Son’s children view natural landscapes from their mobile home during a trip. Photo: Supplied

Giving kids experiences

“My two kids greatly enjoy mobile home road trips. They can bathe in a stream, in a river, fly kites or play on grass, which hardly happens in major cities,” he continued.

During their first road trips, it took even one week for them to prepare as everything seemed new to them.

The more they traveled, the more experience Son and his wife got to pack essential things for their next trips.

On a recent trip, his family visited mountainous provinces in northern Vietnam. They had been to many popular destinations such as Cua Tu Stream in Thai Nguyen, Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan, Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang, or Lung Cu Flag Tower in Ha Giang.

The eight-day road trip across 1,000 kilometers helped the kids widen their worldview, especially the grandeur of the S-shaped country.

“The kids seemed terribly excited as they admired the extraordinary beauty of limestone mountain ranges, visited historical relic sites such as Pac Bo Cave and Lenin Spring, in addition to learning more stories of the nation’s history,” he said.

Children growing up in urban areas usually have fewer chances to engage with nature and immerse themselves in cool, crystal-clear waters than their rural peers. Hence, the camping and road trips brought them much joy and made them bolder.

Further, they also made more friends and were able to disconnect from technology for a healthier lifestyle, even though their skin got darker and they had more insect bites after the trips. But these experiences made them much braver and more confident, the father of two added.

'After camping road trips, my children have become bolder and their skin got darker and healthier,' Son said. Photo: Supplied

‘After camping road trips, my children have become bolder and their skin got darker and healthier,’ Son said. Photo: Supplied

Memorable trips in mobile home

Son and his wife often had to spend much time planning for upcoming trips and taking into account possible risks they could encounter to make sure that their family are safe and have a good time on each trip.

Son also takes their German shepherd dog on each trip to help warn the family of threats.

“We need to put our safety on top of things and stay highly cautious when traveling to new places. As getting lost or having vehicles broken down can completely happen, we make careful preparations as well as coping plans,” Son said.

Before each long-haul trip, his mobile home will be equipped with a sufficient amount of water and electricity to serve camping and daily activities throughout the trip. Sometimes, their family has to ask local people for a favor to recharge their equipment to have enough power to use at campgrounds.

Thanks to those experiences, he gets a chance to chat with the locals and learn more about their culture. The kids also learned to play and make friends with new people while waiting for the car to be fully recharged.

His family enjoys local food specialties in every place they have been to.

“The refrigerator in the car is nearly full of food. We alternate between cooking in the car and enjoying local food. We are big fans of stream fish and fresh and clean veggies offered by the locals,” he said.

“However, living a nomadic life is not always as wonderful as we expected. It will put travelers to certain inconveniences even though they have made thorough preparations for the trip.

“Van dwellers will find it uncomfortable when doing daily activities in a confined space of the car.

“But, looking on the bright side, this is an opportunity for the kids to practice staying neat and tidy for an optimal living space.”

Sometimes, what they had planned did not go their way.

On the most recent trip, his family opted to stop and sleep overnight in their car near a square in the northern upland province of Cao Bang, but they could not sleep well due to the street lights, the sound of vehicle horns, and the music of people doing morning exercises.

'The upside of living a van life is that every trip is completely different. We have no idea about what is awaiting us ahead, whom we will meet and which culture we will experience.' Photo: Supplied

‘The upside of living a van life is that every trip is completely different. We have no idea what is awaiting us ahead, whom we will meet, and which culture we will experience.’ Photo: Supplied

It’s not difficult to drive mobile home

Most of the mobile homes in Vietnam were converted from old cars that have been in use for 10-15 years. Mobile home users should be seasoned drivers.

“As the roads to the northwestern part of Vietnam are quite rough, we need to be highly experienced so as to drive uphill and downhill in a safe manner,” Son said.

“I think people with little driving experience should try easy routes first to get used to driving a mobile home.”

After getting acquainted with the car, long-distance driving will be a piece of cake, Son said, adding that exploring new places lifted his mood and helped him escape driver fatigue.

“I will take regular rest breaks during the trip to ensure the safety of my whole family,” he shared.

“The upside of living a van life is that every trip is completely different.

“We have no idea what is awaiting us ahead, whom we will meet and which culture we will experience.”

'We need to put our safety on top of things and stay highly cautious when traveling to new places.' Photo: Supplied

‘We need to put our safety on top of things and stay highly cautious when traveling to new places.’ Photo: Supplied

'Don’t worry about lacking certain stuff when traveling on a mobile home. Let’s hit the road as it’s not a big deal to travel without some necessities.' Photo: Reuters

‘Don’t worry about lacking certain stuff when traveling in a mobile home. Let’s hit the road as it’s not a big deal to travel without some necessities.’ Photo: Supplied

To date, his family has completed their road trip to northern mountainous provinces and is planning for another to the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau, the southernmost point of Vietnam.

The upcoming one-month trip is expected to be full of joy and advantages thanks to the experience they have gained during the past trip.

Below are some stunning photos of the Son family during their mobile home trips:







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Your Vietnam

Mexican artist finds new inspirations in Việt Nam




Artist Roberto Arcuate collects waste such as plastic pipes and gives them a new life in the form of porcelain sculptures. VNS Photo Minh Thu.

By Hương Thu

Mexican contemporary artist Roberto Arcaute has chosen Việt Nam as the final destination in his journey to finish his latest installation project.

The project, named Union: Narrations of a Civilisation, aims to convey a message about the environment. Its idea is to take and copy everyday waste objects and reproduce them in porcelain sculptures with all their labelling information in blue.

It will feature nine sculptures generated from different waste that the artist has selected. Three sculptures are based on the selection of domestic waste that is normally generated in the home like paper, glass, plastic bottles; three others are based on the selection of urban waste that is normally generated in areas where people coexist and the rest on based on the selection of commercial waste from offices, restaurants, and stores, usually food, paper, or cardboard.

In the later phase of the project, he intends to select some of the finished objects to create a form of conglomerate type mass with the help of clay, cement and oven heat.

He said: “The word UNION in this project refers to something obtained by conglomeration (gathering, piling up, and joining fragments). The project proposes to show how a narrative of a consumer society is constructed and how its waste can be reincorporated into our civilisation from reproductions of itself.”

The 46-year-old artist has pursued Union: Narrations of a Civilisation for five years under the sponsorship of the Mexican government. He conducted parts of his project in Mexico, the US, China and several others before coming to Việt Nam.

Arcaute chose Việt Nam as the final destination to finish his new installation project. VNS Photo Minh Thu. 

He first came to the country eight years ago as a tourist and had the opportunity to have first-hand experience of local culture. He was particularly impressed with Vietnamese handmade pottery due to its sophistication and uniqueness and decided to finalise his installation project in Bát Tràng Ceramic Village on his second visit.

He added: “Việt Nam has a culture similar to other countries in the region but also has its own identity and pottery is an example. The clay in Bát Tràng Village is different from the places I’ve been to. In addition, a most striking feature in each product is the craftsmanship.

“I have travelled to Jingdezhen Town, the ceramic capital of China. But I was still impressed on how meticulous it takes for each Bát Tràng artisan to create the best version of their works. They don’t focus on mass production.

“It has been a great adventure to have this visual experience. I think Bát Tràng is becoming famous in the world and soon we will hear much more about this wonderful area of Việt Nam.”

It took him a while to find the appropriate pottery workshop and kiln. Eventually he found one that could provide him with English-speaking assistants and a space to work without affecting its daily production.

It didn’t take him long to get accustomed to his new life and discover more exciting aspects from the simple things of city life.

Every day, the Mexican artist drives his motorbike from his apartment in the centre of Hà Nội to Bát Tràng Province, about 10km away. Possessing an international driver’s license, driving a motorbike has caused him no difficulties, unlike many other foreigners who might feel afraid of heavy traffic in the capital city.

“I leave home early in the morning and return at sunset,” he said. “Along the way, I always hear very special sounds. People say it’s the sound of summer cicadas. It was the first time in my life that I heard such sounds.

“Another interesting thing is that Hà Nội has a lot of rivers and lakes and it rains frequently this season. I find the climate here wonderful. My hometown is in Monterrey, a dry area with many deserts, hills and having no natural water source, so when I saw Hà Nội with many rivers and lakes, I was extremely excited. Whenever crossing the Red River, I often try to slow down to enjoy the view.

“The most important wealth is the kindness of every person and also the spirit of work that could be seen everyday. Without a doubt, that makes Việt Nam different from other countries.”

He is particularly impressed with the kindness of local people. VNS Photo Minh Thu.

Arcaute has also been collaborating with the Mexican Embassy in Việt Nam to conduct a series of art activities, like a conference at the Việt Nam University of Fine Arts.

“I feel very lucky because it is not easy to win such art support in my country,” he said.

Arcaute plans to have Union: Narrations of a Civilisation exhibited in both Mexico and Việt Nam next year, and at the same time, publish a book describing the entire project in four languages: Spanish, English, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The Mexican artist also revealed that he would like to travel to HCM City, Đà Nẵng and several other destinations during his next visit to explore the native culture, which might inspire him with his future works. VNS









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Your Vietnam

Photo contest highlighting beauty of Vietnamese islands kicks off



ISLAND BEAUTY – The beauty of the country’s islands and seas is featured in a photo contest “Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa – Nhà giàn DK trong trái tim tôi” (Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos and DK Platforms in My Heart). VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt

HCM CITY — Professional and amateur photographers across Việt Nam are encouraged to compete in a photo contest highlighting the beauty of Vietnamese Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa islands.

The contest themed “Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa – Nhà giàn DK trong trái tim tôi” (Paracel and Spratly Archipelagos and DK Platforms in My Heart) is co-organised by the Vừ A Dính Scholarship Fund, the HCM City Photography Association, and the “For Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa” Club.

According to the organisers, photos should feature the daily activities of people and soldiers in the Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa archipelagos and the DK platforms who are protecting the country’s sovereignty in the sea and islands.

The photos should also reflect the people’s love and gratitude for soldiers and people in the archipelagos and platforms.

Each contestant can submit up to two collections or 10 single photos in colour or black-and-while at by August 15.

Entries must be sent in a digital file in JPG format, with a maximum file size of 3 Megabytes and a resolution of 300dpi.

Contestants will be judged by Vietnamese photographers such as Nguyễn Hồng Nga, vice chairwoman of the city Photography Association, Nguyễn Thanh Tâm and Nguyễn Á.

The organisers will present a total of one first prize, two second prizes, three third prizes and five consolation prizes.

The winners will be announced on August 20.

The organisers will also select the 50 best photos for an exhibition at the Youth Cultural House in District 1 on August 25.

The Vừ A Dính Scholarship Fund and the “For Hoàng Sa – Trường Sa” Club also launched a writing contest on the potential and beauty of the sea and islands, the sacrifice of soldiers in protecting the country, and daily activities of fishermen.

Contestants can send their entries, short stories and poems, to the organisers via email [email protected] by August 15. — VNS


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World Cup winning coach Raul to lead Việt Nam’s futsal




World Cup champion manager Diego Raul Giustozzi will take charge of the Việt Nam national futsal team. Photo

HÀ NỘI — World Cup champion coach Diego Raul Giustozzi will take charge of the Việt Nam national futsal team and is expected to lift the team up at the coming AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2022 in Kuwait.

Việt Nam’s first time competing in the World Cup was in 2016 in Colombia where they finished in the quarter-finals.

At the same tournament Giustozzi, 44, guided Argentina to the top podium for the first time, beating Russia 5-4 in the final.

Earlier, the former Argentinian national player competed in Spain for many years before moving to be a coach in 2013.

He also led Argentina to take a silver at the South American Games in 2014 and the third Continental Cup in same year.

At club level, Giustozzi managed Spanish ElPozo Murcia FC since 2018 and grabbed second place of the Futsal UEFA Champions League 2019-20.

The Argentine manager whose contract’s details are not revealed, on August 1 called up 23 players for the first training camp in HCM City.

Most are veteran players with experience in various international tournaments in recent years such as goalkeeper Hồ Văn Ý, fixo Trần Văn Vũ, ala Lê Quốc Nam, and pivo Nguyễn Minh Trí.

Young faces such as Nguyễn Văn Hiếu and Châu Đoàn Phát and fixo Nhan Gia Hưng are also called up this time.

After five weeks of training, they will leave for Thailand for an invitational tournament on September 8-19 where they will play Iran, Morocco, Finland, Angola and the hosts.

They will compete in the Kuwait competition from September 25-October 20.

Việt Nam are in the same group as South Korea, Saudi Arabia and defending champions Japan.

Giustozzi is expected to help Việt Nam gain a good result and qualify for the Futsal World Cup 2024. VNS


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