Lonely Planet Writer

Truly authentic traveller found in Ho Chi Minh City

While researching for the new Vietnam guide last month, a Lonely Planet author encountered a traveller who has truly learned to experience a place like a local. The author, who speaks fluent Vietnamese, noticed that the government bureaucrat he encountered had a strong Australian accent. Upon questioning, the man admitted that he was from Brisbane and his name was Brian Dunmore.

Brian has been travelling in Vietnam for the last 5 years, which has involved getting married to a local and renting an apartment in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City. He said it all started when he went on the Lonely Planet online travel forum, the Thorn Tree, in 2004, and asked his fellow travellers how he could experience Vietnam authentically - like a local.

Brian acknowledged to the LP author that the forum members may have been joking when they suggested he leave his iPod and backpack in Australia and instead live off $15 a week and work 12-hour days. Although he says he wouldn't travel any other way, in the next breath he notes his longing for a Thai beach holiday with his wife.

Even though Brian has yet to leave Ho Chi Minh City, he has seen most of the country on his father-in-law's TV. He claims that most of his co-workers don't suspect that he is a traveller. 'It is quite easy to deceive them,' he says. 'My life is so authentic that they've never connected me with the joy of being an international traveller.'