“After starting a new life in Germany, I just couldn’t help but always think about Vietnam – my parents, my heritage, my classmates, the food, everything about my home country.”

The soft-spoken Mr. Hoa reminisces the emotions, trials and tribulations of decades past. Born in Saigon during the late 1960s, the bulk of his childhood was spent witnessing conflict in his war-torn Vietnam.

Desperate for a better life for their children, his mother and father would make the fateful decision to send off Hoa, then 14-years-old, and his younger 8-year-old brother on a refugee boat in 1982.

Of the two million boat people who fled Vietnam in the decades following the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, nearly 800,000 would eventually safely make the passage to another country. Those who embarked on this perilous journey were often beset with storms, pirates, overcrowding, and dehydration.

Similar to many family members who remained in Vietnam while their loved ones fled the country, it would be several months and countless sleepless nights before his parents received word that Hoa and his brother has arrived safely in Thailand. There, they would spend five months in a refugee camp before being granted asylum in then-West Germany.

Hoa’s adopted country would be his new home during his prime formative years as well as his early adulthood. The transition was a bit of a challenge, especially without his parents, but eventually he overcame the culture shock, made new friends, and graduated from university in of Hagen. But he could never escape that feeling of being away from his true home.

Twenty years after first stepping foot onto German soil, Hoa’s dream became reality as he landed a job as a German-speaking tour guide in Vietnam. Since 2004, he has led thousands of tourists, predominantly from Germany, Austria, and Belgium, on journeys throughout Vietnam.

“Although words cannot express how deeply grateful to the people of Germany for taking me and my brother in, I feel that my heart never left Vietnam. I just knew that someday, I would be going home. And nothing would make me happier than to share the beauty of my country with travellers.”

Annually, Heritage Line offers several 7-night cruise departures on the lower Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia with complimentary German speaking tour guide on board (Mr. Hoa leads the Vietnam side of our cruises). Click here for the list of dates in 2020 and 2021.

We also offer private, foreign language speaking tour guides on request, and the distinguished Mr. Hoa is our first choice for German speaking passengers. Contact us for more information.