Jon and Y Hem
Highlander culture attracts foreign visitors
Foreign visitors travelling to Kon Tum's Konam Village are discovering the “forest culture” of the local people. During these tours, romances have developed. The love between Y Hem, a Bana ethnic minority girl and Belgian Jon Nathan is a typical example.
Y Hem could speak just a little English. In 2008 she worked as a tour guide for a group of foreign tourists.
During their one week tour, the travellers, including Jon, enjoyed experiencing the lives of the Bana people. Jon was attracted by the “forest culture” and fell in love with Y Hem due to her honesty and no-thrills lifestyle.
When the tour ended, Jon and Y Hem kept in touch with each other by email. To understand each other, Y Hem joined English classes, and Jon studied the Bana language by himself.
In 2010, Jon returned to Vietnam to meet Y Hem again. Their love affair began from that point. Since then, Jon visited Vietnam twice a year. In June 2011, Jon finished the necessary procedure so that Y Hem could come to Belgian and visit Jon’s family.
“That is the first time I went abroad, and even alone, I was really scared. I was afraid that I wouldn’t meet him at the airport. But when the plane landed, he and his family welcomed me. At that time, I dared to believe his love was true”, Y Hem said.
The result of their love is a beautiful 7-month daughter.
“I love her honesty”
Jon said, “I have visited many places in Vietnam, like Haiphong, Hanoi, HCM City... but when I visited Kon Tum, I found that Bana people were very kind. They are very honest, plain. They don’t know how to lie. I love Y Hem because of those virtues. I want our children could learn that precious lifestyle”.
Y Hem said, “Jon is the eldest brother in his family. Now he is working for a company with branch in China. Our families are both happy because of our love.”
“Jon gets on well with my family. He can eat, drink like Bana people. We got our marriage license on June 16. At the end of this year, we’ll hold our wedding, and his parents will join us here. We both want to stay in Vietnam until our child is 15 years old”.
According to Giut, head of Kon Tum Konam Village, five girls have married foreigners and all of them live abroad.
Most of Kon Tum Konam Village’s Western grooms were visitors taking village tours.
Another example was the love between a native girl, Y Ruth, and Edourd, a French man, who works for a Monaco-funded non-governmental organisation operating in the field of health and education support for ethnic minorities in Kon Tum Province. In 2008, Edourd and Y Ruth fell in love with each other despite Y Ruth having a child from a previous marriage.
Edourd and Y Ruth held a wedding in Kon Tum then went to live in France. Edourd built a stilt Bana house in Kon Tum Konam Village, so their family can return to Vietnam to enjoy their visits while on holiday.
Jon drinking with the native people
Jon and Y Hem get their marriage licence