Mountain culture lures Western people Jon Nathan and Y Hem.
Kon Tum Knam village of Bana ethnic minority group in Kon Tum city is situated on the bank of the milk and romantic Dak Bla River.
All foreign tourists to Kon Tum visit this village to discover the mountain culture of the Central Highlands. Borderless love stories ‘spring’ from this village. The love between Y Hem, a Bana girl, and Jon Nathan, a Belgium man, has surprised many people.
As a native girl, who could babble a few English words, in 2008 Y Hem was assigned to be a tour guide for foreign visitors who came to Kon Tum to discover the mountain culture of Bana people in remote villages.
During a one-week tour, Nathan and other visitors mixed with the wild life of Bana people. Nathan adored the so-called “mountain culture” and liked Y Hem’s honesty and plainness.
Returning home, Nathan still kept contact with Y Hem via email. To further know each other, Y Hem attended an English class while Nathan studied Bana language himself.
In 2010, Nathan returned to Vietnam to go to the village on the Dak Bla riverbank to express his love to the Bana girl. Since then, Nathan came to Vietnam twice a year to see his girlfriend. In June 2011, he brought Y Hem to Belgium to introduce her to his family.
“That was the first time I went abroad, alone, so I was so worried. I was afraid that I could not see him in Belgium. But I was welcomed by his family at the airport. At that time, I completely believed in his love!” Y Hem said.
Y Hem lived for three months with her boyfriend in his apartment. She was treated very warmly by his family. They took her to all famous tourist sites in Belgium.
The fruit of the love between the 28-year-old Belgian man and the 26-year-old Bana woman is a 7-month daughter. “I love honesty and simplicity”
Nathan and his wife's family.
VietNamNet’s correspondents paid a visit to Kon Tum Konam village to see Y Hem. Different from the quietness on the village road, Y Hem’s house was very crowded and noisy. Several kids were playing around a young foreign man, who was holding a baby.
“Jon is the eldest son in a family with four children. He is working for a Chinese-based company. His family treats me very well. My parents also support our love,” Y Hem said.
Seeing the young couple and their child, we felt their happiness. Whenever Nathan came here to see his wife and baby, Y Hem’s relatives grouped up at her house to share their happiness.
“Jon lives like Bana people. We received marriage certificate on June 13. We are holding our wedding later this year,” Y Hem said.
“His parents will go to Vietnam to attend our wedding. I want to stay in Vietnam and he agrees. We will raise our child here until she is 15 years old then send her to Belgium,” she told us.
We joined a family party with Y Hem’s family. There were only rice alcohol and fried noodle but Nathan enthusiastically drank like a real Bana man. He said he was happy to gather with his wife’s family and shared his thought.
“I’ve been to many places in Vietnam, like Hanoi, Haiphong, HCM City… but in Kon Tum, I have met with good-hearted Bana people. They are very honest, kind-hearted and never tell lies. I love my wife for these virtues. I want my children to learn that valuable living style of Bana people,” Nathan said.
Ms. Giut, chief of Kon Tum Konam village, there are 225 Bana families in the village. Besides Y Hem, five other girls have married foreign men, including Ruth, 35, Nino, 23, Lynar, 24, Hoang Ny Ly, 31 and Han. All of them have gone abroad with their husbands.
Most of foreign sons-in-low of Kon Tum Konam village were tourists. The first was Edourd, a French man, who married with Y Ruth.
Edourd was an employee of a non-governmental organization. He met Y Ruth in 2008. At that time Y Ruth had a child. They got married and now settle in France, with Y Ruth’s stepchild.
Edourd built a Bana-styled house in Kon Tum Konam to live whenever his family returns to Vietnam. Tien Thanh