French duo traveling the world by foot arrive in Vietnam

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Thierry (R) and Killian visit Dinh Bang maket in Vietnam's northern province of Bac Ninh

Two Frenchmen traveling round the world on foot with a budget of just US$2.70 a day have reached Vietnam, the 14th country in their journey, which began in May of 2008.

Thierry Montaner, 36, and Killian Blais, 29 are now in Hanoi and have decided to spend three months exploring Vietnam before moving on to other Southeast Asian destinations, The Thao & Van Hoa newspaper reported Monday.

Their around-the-world journey started at Valence, a commune in southeastern France. En route to Vietnam, the duo made their way through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and China.

The men have each been carrying 18-kilogram packs.

"We walk around 15-20 kilometers a day. We don't use planes or trains. To cross oceans, we use boats," said Thierry.

In order to survive on their allotted budget of 2 euros a day, they have had to carefully manage all expenses. When possible, they have spent the night in the homes of local people; otherwise they have camped out in sleeping bags.

"In Asia, we can manage to live with this small sum of money. But in Europe, it is really difficult because the food is much more expensive. We usually have to eat the cheapest kind of bread, cheese and butter. Sometimes, we have gotten expired cakes for free," they said.

Luckily, in Hanoi, a friend has offered them free room and board. Thierry's parents have also come to Hanoi to visit their son for the first time since he left home, providing him with some essential provisions.

Five years ago, both Thierry and Killian had regular jobs in France, and a shared passion for traveling and adventure brought them together.

Feeling bored with his job, Thierry decided to quit and do something new and different. The idea to travel around the world by foot emerged as his foremost desire, but he did not want to do it alone.

He shared his idea on the Internet and looked for a partner. Receiving 88 responses, he narrowed the field to eight candidates.

As a final check, he required his prospective travel partners to hike through the snow for ten days in the mountainous region in southern France in other to test their stamina. Seven people quit before completing the task; only Kallian made it, and thus, became Thierry's adventure partner.

Their journey has provided the duo with many unforgettable memories.

One day, when having arrived at the northern border of Turkey, where there was significant political upheaval, they were detained and interrogated.

"It was difficult to explain to the soldiers where we were going and what our intentions were because they didn't speak English or French," Thierry recalled.

"They pointed their guns at us and sometimes shot into the air. We were extremely scared, but finally they released us," he said.

Another time in China, while on a 20-day climb up a 4,000-meter mountain, a sunbeam went straight into Thierry's unshielded eyes. He had to stay in the dark for a whole week and required medicine to heal his injured eyes.

Thierry and Kallian said they plan to continue walking the Earth for the next three years, after trotting across more of Asia, South American and West Africa.

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