Dao’s mother took her 4-year-old child on a backpacking trip across the country

Woman who loves traveling Duong Thi Kim Canh took her son across Vietnam by motorbike when he was only 18 months old.

Giang – the family name of 4-year-old boy Duong Phuc Bao, a Dao ethnic group – has now been to all 64 provinces and cities, the 4 extremes of East – West – South – North of the country. The boy has been traveling on motorbikes with his mother since he was 18 months old. Ms. Canh, from the Dao ethnic group, works as a herbal medicine seller in Thai Nguyen and maintains 3-4 long trips each year with her children. The shortest trip is about 5 days, the remaining trip is about 10 – 15 days. Ms. Canh often chooses to ride a motorbike, then return by bus or by plane.

From the East – Northwest route, down to the Central region and then up to the Central Highlands, both mother and daughter have arrived. In recent years, she has prioritized taking her children to provinces and cities where the Dao people live, and to famous historical sites so that they can communicate with the Dao people everywhere.

Mother and daughter check in at Lo Xo Pass, Lam Dong, 2022. Photo: Kim Canh

Mother and daughter check in at Lo Xo Pass, Lam Dong, 2022. Photo: Kim Canh

Most recently, in April 2024, Ms. Canh took her children to visit Dao ethnic villages in the Central Highlands, to the memorial house of hero Nup in Gia Lai, and then visited the Ba To Guerrilla relics; Son My relic site, Quang Ngai. From here, she went to Quang Tri ancient citadel, Uncle Ho’s hometown lotus village in Nghe An to arouse national pride with her children.

“I am a person who loves Vietnamese history and the glorious victories of battles. I hope my child also has such passionate patriotism,” Ms. Canh said.

Ms. Canh said Giang is always excited to move everywhere with her mother. The boy never whined, was tired or moody. Giang also refused to sit behind her mother’s saddle because she thought her back was too big and he couldn’t see anything. Giang wanted to sit in the front to observe the beautiful scenery and majestic nature along the way. “Only when it rains too much do I agree to hide behind my mother,” Ms. Canh said.

Every time we go out, Ms. Canh often talks to her children in Dao language. Every time I drive for about 1 and a half to nearly 2 hours, I will stop so that mother and child can start playing or visit the stops.

She feels “very healthy” when traveling with her children. Giang is independent in everything from eating, going to the toilet, and changing his own clothes. When it’s too cold and I have to wear a thick sweater, I ask my mother because I can’t take it off myself.

The boy is also in good health. “Maybe thanks to going out with my mother, I have high resistance,” the mother said. The cold weather in Sa Pa does not make children sick. I also “don’t cough” when going to Hue, Quang Tri, Quang Nam. “I see it as a success because it helps my child experience all weather,” said Ms. Canh.

Mother and daughter camping in Sam Chiem - Bac Kan, March 2022.  Photo: Kim Canh

Mother and daughter camping at Sam Chiem – Bac Kan, March 2022. Photo: Kim Canh

The trips left many memorable memories for mother and daughter. In February 2022, when Ms. Canh went from Dien Bien to Sa Pa, the temperature dropped from 6 degrees to 0 degrees Celsius, making them “run in trembling”. Then, on the way from Sa Pa to Lao Cai, it started to rain. Seeing people lighting a fire, she pulled over and asked for her child to warm up.

One time, Ms. Canh carried her then 18-month-old child to Chieu Lau Thi peak in Ha Giang in the cold of 6-7 degrees Celsius. Midway, her blood pressure dropped while her child cried. But she just stopped to take out candy to eat to regain her strength, comfort her child, and then continue on.

During their trip in April, their car ran out of gas while passing through Kon Tum national forest. Empty streets, no electricity or phone signal. Ms. Canh and her child waited for half an hour to meet the ranger patrolling the forest. She took two bandanas from her backpack and tied them to the car so he could drag them out to the main road 14 km away to get gas.

Traveling with my mother is “hard” but when I don’t go for a long time, Giang asks: “When will we go again, Mom”?

The mother, who has been backpacking for more than 10 years, said she will continue to take her child to areas with the Dao people before Giang enters first grade. She imagines that when she learns the lesson on Xa Nu Forest, her child will exclaim, “I know this place already. Mom used to let me go.” Or when studying at Cua Tung beach, children can easily compare articles in textbooks and reality. Giang also knows about the Truong Son range, where there is a sea, where there is a forest.

According to her, if parents want to go backpacking with their children, they must have experience traveling, understand the areas they will visit, and must learn and anticipate risks along the way. Parents should make sure their children are healthy and monitor them for any health risks. If your child is tired, parents should stop the journey immediately.

She also lost her child for a moment because of Giang’s hyperactivity. But Dao’s mother always feels happy after every trip. “Giang knows a lot of new things that many of his hometown friends only know through pictures or on TV or on the phone,” Ms. Canh said.

An Vy