Tour guide Le Tan Phuc is the kind of person you want to be with when you are on vacation. After meeting him for a few minutes, you feel you are loaded with energy and you can achieve all your dreams. No doubt you need that sort of energy when you are cycling under the Vietnamese heat.
This 29-year-old young man has been a tour guide for the last five years and he couldn’t be happier about it. When he was younger, in his Mekong Delta village in the province of Dong Thap few believed he could achieve his dream of becoming a tourguide in the city. he didn’t listen. He studied college in Saigon. He felt his English was very weak so he decided to work as a waiter in Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker’s area in Saigon. After one year he was offered to be a cycling tourguide for Vietnambiketours. He did well and got more and more tours. He loves it.
“I like a lot cycling tour guide. It’s good for the environment. I imagine if everybody in this city cycled, the air would be much cleaner. It’s good for health. And when you cycle you get to see more. If I didn’t have this job I would miss a lot in my life. In my village I discover things, I get to small roads with my bike and my friends and parents don’t know when it is”, he says.
Cycling is getting popular in Vietnam but for Phuc cycling has always been part of his life. He had no choice. As a child, he used to cycle everyday to school 45 minutes to go, 45 minutes to go back. When he got older, he used to help in the rice field after school. He knows what it is to work under the sun, to carry heavy sacks of rice. “Farming is very hard. My father said I ran away from it”, he recalls. Compared to that cycling long distances is like a game. Maybe that’s why he sometimes feels the need to challenge himself and cycles from his village to Saigon in one day. 160 kilometers. 8 hours on the bike, under the sun. That’s one of the reasons why he is so fit during the tours.
Phuc has a good reason to keep returning to his village every 3 weeks. His wife and his 2-year-old son still live there. He plans to help them move in the future, but so far it’s not possible. When he misses them, he is lucky to share time with the tourists, enjoy with them and learn from their culture. “They help me to learn English and I also learn from their cultures. When we do the long tours, some of them are crying when they have to say goodbye”, he tells.
Phuc keeps learning from his own country as he cycles with the tourists and he is thankful for his job. If he had to choose a tour to discover Vietnam he wouldn’t be sure, but he thinks the Mekong delta is a good introduction, specially for tourists not specially fit. “In the Mekong there are a lot of different places”, he says.
If you want to learn more about him you can see him in this great video.