June 20 2021
9:26 AM
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Previous story American Girl Meets Romantic Vietnam Artist Next story
Published on May 21, 2021 2:53 AM

by Katherine Pheoug
Love in the afternoon after a long journey.
It is the year 2020 when Katherine Crestin, a 22-year-old student of a well to do American family, travels to Vietnam to get a portrait made by a gifted artist. The artist was born into a very poor Vietnamese family. Despite the incredibly difficult circumstances, the artist named Danh Pheoug had gained an outstanding reputation for being a gifted portrait painter. His reputation led Katherine Crestin to travel all the way to Ho Chi Minh City from Boston to get her portrait done.

By the time the portrait was finished, the two had fallen in love. Danh was fascinated with Katherine's beauty. Never before had he seen a more beautiful woman from the Western world. He gave his best to capture all her beauty in the portrait, yet never fully succeeded. Nonetheless, the portrait was magnificent and Katherine fell for his simplicity and his charming character. Because of him, she spontaneously decided to stay with Danh in Vietnam. Two days turned into weeks, then months. The two had fallen so deeply in love that they decided to get married according to traditional Vietnam rituals.

Unfortunately, the time came when Katherine had to leave in order to complete her studies in Boston. Many thousands of miles separated the two but their feelings for each other never changed. They stayed in contact through letters, which they exchanged almost weekly with each other. Naturally, the newlyweds had a terribly struggle with the great distance between them. Katherine helped Danh get a passport and offered to buy him air tickets, which he refused. He had not only decided to complete his studies first, but he had also set his mind on reuniting with the love of his life on his own terms. He even made her the promise that he would do anything he can to see her again. But that was academic. The Covid-19 pandemic which was now in full force, would keep them apart.

After Danh had finished his studies, he took all his possessions and sold them. Unfortunately, the money he earned didn't even come close to a flight ticket. All he could afford was a cheap and used motorbike. Most people would have been disappointed; some would have even given up. But not Danh. Instead of allowing the difficult circumstances to stop him from seeing his beloved wife again, he met the decision to use what he had in order to see her again. Nothing could stop him from reuniting with his wife, even if that meant an exhausting motorbike ride half around the world. Even the salton sea could not keep them apart. His love was that great. However, there was the problem of the Pacific Ocean. He could not drive on water.

Danh discovered that he could get a visa in Russia, work then work on a fishing boat. Then there was only the small distance of the Bering Sea that connects with the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, at the narrowest point of which the two continents are about 53 miles apart. ... The boundary between the United States and Russia passes through the sea and the strait. He would be able to use a Russian visa to enter Alaska then ride his motorbike across Canada and get a temporary visa into the US. Some of his ideas were illegal but it was his idea and he had to try. Anyway, he could make across Canada for sure then he's be only a couple hours from Boston for his surprise to Katherine.

His decision was the beginning of an incredible motorbike journey from Vietnam to the Western world via China, Russia, and the Bering Strait. His biggest fear was immigration. But he had friends who would help. Danh took all his paintings and brushes with him in order to financially support his idea along the way. He would need money for fake identification at certain locations. It was a long shot and he might end up in prison somewhere but he had to do it, his way.

His nearly impossible voyage, especially during a global pandemic, led him through several countries and took more than five months. But eventually he arrived at Katherine's hometown of Boston.

Katherine was outside talking to her mother when she saw Danh slowly riding his now worn motorbike toward her with a huge smile. At first she could not believe her eyes; her husband was finally with her again. But how was it possible? Their eyes filled with tears and they hugged for ten full minutes. Danh spent two full days narrating his journey back into Katherine's arms. From then on, the two did never leave each other's side.