A self-proclaimed rebel whose favorite song is Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” has won an international round of online voting, joining an elite expedition to the North Pole.
28-year-old Vietnamese hiker Hoang Le Giang took his place in the Fjällräven Polar event on April 3rd along with 20 other trekkers.
Giang became wildly popular on social media upon registering for the contest, earning over 113,000 votes for the coveted trip. Fjällräven Polar was established in 1997 by two Swedish sled drivers after organizing their first trip through the Scandinavian Arctic.
Giang suffered from asthma and obesity as a child, but that didn’t stop him from adventuring every chance he could. He has traveled to 30 countries and only began mountain-climbing five years ago.
He said his favorite song from the American rock band is reflective of his once powerful ego. “I was always a rebel at school. I would tell my literature teacher ‘no’ when she asked whether I liked a certain book. It was my way of letting my feelings as a reader be known.” “I have become less of a rebel and more of a thinker since I took up mountain climbing,” Giang said, “When you climb, you have enough time by yourself to reflect on your life.”
One of Giang’s most crucial moments in his travels took place in April 2016 while climbing in the Nepali village of Chomrong when the earthquake hit. “Everything happened so quickly, and in that precise moment, suddenly I felt more worried for my family than for myself. What if my family members were forced to endure loss just because of my personal satisfaction?” Since then Giang has altered his outlook on the dangers of adventurous trips and taken preparatory safety measures more seriously.
Giang hopes his winning the contest sends a powerful message for other youths that “when your enthusiasm is big enough, you can achieve anything in life no matter how average you are.” “After all, I’m just as average as anybody,” Giang said humbly.