|Journalist and director Nguyen Bong Mai. (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV)
Mai embarked on her 99-day journey on February 2, 2022, finally returning home on June 6. She drove alone across Vietnam through the northwest, the northeast, the Red River Delta, the north-central, the south-central, the Central Highlands, the southeast, and the Mekong River Delta.
"I travelled alone without any assistance most of my trip. My daughter only came with me a short part of the way. On the trip I passed through 44 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces and cities, drove more than 10,000 km, and learned about the lives of every Vietnamese ethnic group. My journey took 99 days, of which 56 days were spent in the northwest and northeast. I'd never been away from home for such a long time before, although I've often travelled by myself," said Mai.
The journey across Vietnam gave Mai a chance to meet and record the colorful life stories of ethnic minority people across Vietnam. She also got the opportunity to help some people in difficult circumstances. Her journey wasn’t lonely because there were many people to care for her along the way.
"Although it was a solo trip, many ethnic minority people participated. On the journey, I met many people. Everywhere we went, we were warmly welcomed. People treated us like family members," said Truc Lam, Mai’s daughter.
|Photos of ethnic costumes at the exhibition "Dare to lead a glorious life." (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV)
The exhibition "Dare to lead a glorious life" at the Vietnam Women's Museum in Hanoi until Sunday received sponsorship from UNESCO in Vietnam. It includes 55 ethnic costumes that Mai collected on her journey, a series of pieces Mai wrote about the ethnic cultures she observed in which she talks about her personal reactions, and 30 of the photos she took during her trip.
"The exhibition began last Saturday. There were 800 visitors the first day, most of them tourists from Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and China. We guided the visitors through the exhibit and told them stories behind the trip and explained the reason for the trip, so they could better understand the photos, the beautiful ethnic costumes, and the culture they capture," said Minh Anh, a volunteer working at the exhibition.
"Most people were quite excited to see the exhibition. Everyone left words of thanks and encouragement for Mai," she said.
Visitor Pham Hong Ha from Hanoi said, "I find a great story behind these photos. Not many people would go to the trouble of gathering so much data about Vietnamese women across the country like Ms. Mai has done,"
|The traditional costume of the Khang ethnic minority group collected by Nguyen Bong Mai. (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV)
Mai said in August she will release a book about ethnic women's costumes and a travel book that recounts her journey to share her experiences and some positive messages.
"The book on women's costumes is not intended to be a work of scientific research. I just want to show the clothing from the perspective of someone who loves Vietnamese culture. After completing my project on ethnic women's costumes, I‘ll do an ethnic music project. I’ve already recorded 49 melodies of ethnic groups in Vietnam," said Mai.
Mai’s journey has been followed by many readers and fans. That trip not only delivers a message that we should dare to fulfill our dreams, but also inspires disadvantaged people to rise up, as well as promotes the unique cultures of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups.