Vietnamese globetrotters

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Last July, four Vietnamese nationals made history, by piling into an all-terrain Mitsubishi and setting off for the Golden Triangle.

They weren't heroin traffickers, wildlife smugglers or flesh peddlers.

These men were trafficking in adventure.

And Vietnam ate it up.

On December 5, audiences all over the country tuned in to VTV3 to watch "Chronicle of the Golden Triangle," the premiere of an adventure documentary series recalling their adventure.

For five Sundays, viewers continued to tune in to watch half-hour installments of their trip. For the first time ever, local viewers watched Vietnamese-speaking travelers explore the world"”in Vietnamese!

The first installment of "Caravan Viet-Around the World" featured the men's exciting push through the mountainous region where the borders of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand intersect.

The area is a notorious hotspot for international heroin smuggling-quiet by day and lawless by night.

They were amazed by the peacefulness and beauty of the region. But they didn't waste any time preparing for their next adventure.

The bold quartet spent the whole of the Tet holiday preparing for the second tour. This time they'll make their way through China, Mongolia and Russia.

Big gamble

SOME SECTIONS IN THE CARAVAN VIET-
VONG QUANH THE GIOI

Asia: Golden Triangle, China, Mongolia and Central Asia

Europe: East, North and West (schedule of 10 to 15 countries)

Africa: Marocco, West Africa to Cape Town

South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador

North America: Mexico, US, Canada Arctic and Antarctic


Do Doan Hoang and the "trusty steed" of the Vietnamese caravan at the Laotian-Vietnamese border area

Bui Quoc Hoan, manager of the Indochina Media Company, doubles as producer and traveler in this television narrative.

Hoan has travelled extensively throughout the country and has scaled Fansipan, Vietnam's highest mountain, six times.

Despite his adventurous spirit, he must remain the most grounded member of the crew. His firm, Indochina Media Company, is also the sole sponsor of the show which will spend roughly US$5 million on the three year adventure.

Hoan and company planned to complete their travels in two years and then worry about editing and selling their footage upon return.

That notion changed when they realized that they needed money.

"I have to put all my work on hold in order to follow the caravan," Hoan said. "At first, it was not my goal to attract advertising spots or sponsorship when producing this picture diary. When the narrative is aired, the whole emphasis was on gathering a treasure trove of global culture, history, nature and humanity from 80 countries."

Hoan hopes that by the end of the around-the-world tour, they'll have enough footage and material to make numerous documentaries and a huge cache of photographs to sell to Vietnamese publications.

In the meantime, they will continue to send film footage back home to be edited into television episodes.

The four musketeers

Hoan's travel crew includes 30- year-old Viet Anh, an international financial expert who has lived in the US for nearly ten years but is better known for his wanderlust "” a man who has been travelling the world since he was 17.

Senior journalist-scriptwriter Do Doan Hoang and noted director of photography Ly Thai Dung, form the production half of the crew.

Hoang said that he loves challenges and the project afforded him a remarkable opportunity to take risks.

"My team and I can't wait for our drive through the African jungle," he said. "We'll be photographing and writing, but we'll also be acting as human compasses."

Hoang's biggest worry is that the four initial members will not have the time to complete the threeyear-journey.

"Sometimes, we think that it is only the car that will make it to the end of the journey," Hoang says with a smile. "Depending on everyone's schedule, we may welcome some other Vietnamese who live in the countries we stop into. That could bring new blood into each excursion."

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