Vietnamese man found paddling toward India serious about traveling to UK

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Vietnamese man found paddling toward India serious about traveling to UK

Nguyen Thi Hao, the mother of Ho Hoang Hung, at her home in Long An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

The Vietnamese man who was found paddling an inflatable boat toward India to see his ‘Indian wife’ last week had previously intended to travel to the UK to find a job, his mother said, adding that he had spent a lot of money preparing for the trip.

Phan Tan Loi, chairman of the People’s Committee in Tan Trach Commune, located in southern Long An Province, confirmed on Monday he had tasked his officials with visiting the family of Ho Hoang Hung following the incident.

Hung, 37, was rescued by Thai naval forces on Wednesday last week after he was found paddling an inflatable boat alone toward India, claiming he wanted to see his ‘Indian wife’ as they had been separated by the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years.

He is the youngest son of Ho Ngoc Long and Nguyen Thi Hao, both 62, according to chairman Loi.

He dropped out of high school in 2001 and became a silversmith apprentice until 2003.

The man then worked as a silversmith before working for a factory at an industrial park in Can Duoc District, Long An in 2007.

In 2017, Hung quit his job, bought an automobile, and worked as a GrabCar driver in Ho Chi Minh City for a few months.

On March 19, 2018, he wandered to Laos and was arrested by local police.

His family later had to go to the Lao Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City and paid VND8.5 million (US$371) to bail him out.

His family members believed that Hung had signs of mental illness but an examination at the hospital in 2014 showed that he was in a normal condition.

One of the electric motorbikes that Ho Hoang Hung bought. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

One of the electric motorbikes that Ho Hoang Hung bought. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

Hung once reported being chased by a group of people from Ho Chi Minh City, but police later found out that there were no such incidents.

In 2018, local residents saw Hung standing by the lake and praying for more than an hour, the chairman added.

Hao, Hung’s mother, confirmed these accounts, adding that Hung once locked himself in his room for months and did not talk to anyone.

Doing whatever it takes to go to the UK

Aside from the abnormal behaviors, Hung is a gentle and quiet man and easy to trust others, according to his mother.

The mother also confirmed that he is not married, adding that he had never had a girlfriend.

In 2017, Hao and her husband gave their land plots to their three sons. Hung later sold his for VND1 billion ($43,700).

Following his arrest in Laos, Hung thought about traveling to Russia and later to the UK.

He has been talking about going to the UK to work over the past two years, Hao stated.

Hung had also paid an international education company for a course to prepare for this plan.

The registration paper of Ho Hoang Hung’s business household. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

The registration paper of Ho Hoang Hung’s business household. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

Hao added that her son even bought two electric motorbikes costing a combined VND33 million ($1,440), as someone told him that people often travel by electric motorbike in the UK.

“His brothers said he had been fooled, but he did not listen,” Hao recalled.

In 2021, after hearing that owning a business would make it easier for him to travel to the UK, Hung headed to Ca Mau Province and asked a local man to help him with registering a business household with a capital of VND200 million ($8,740).

Hung left the house at around 11:30 am on March 1 and told the family that he was going to get on a plane to the UK.

However, all of the things he had prepared for his trip, namely the electric motorbikes and business registration paper, were left at home.

Hao said she had no idea her son had gone to Thailand and been drifting at sea for days until he was found by Thai naval forces.

“As long as he’s alive, I’m glad,” Hao stressed, hoping that the embassy completes their procedures early to let Hung come home.

“He may leave us again. I understand my son. But I always hope he will return soon.”

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