Saigon trucker savior to the stranded, broken down

When the sun sets, self-styled-mechanic Le Thanh Tung takes to the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to assist those in ill repair.

It’s been two years since Tung started venturing out four nights a week, equipped with his trusty tool box, to help those experiencing flat tires, a lack of gas or engine failure, all for free.

“On several prior occasions, my bike had broken down in the middle of nowhere, forcing me to walk home. So, I thought it would be a good idea to help those in the same situation,” he explained.

A truck driver for a company in the southern province of Binh Duong by day, Tung resides with his family in HCMC's District 12 where his wife operates a coffee shop.

“Night shift” usually starts at 8:30 p.m., after Tung has helped serve a spot of coffee.

The kind-hearted mechanic frequents main roads without repair shops like 1A Highway, Pham Van Dong, Mai Chi Tho, Binh Phuoc intersection, and Linh Xuan Bridge on a VND1.5 million ($64) motorbike bought specifically for this purpose.

Before setting out, Tung always buys five liters of gas.

Though compact, his tool box has meant the world to many.

At 11 p.m. on May 17, Tung offers to assist a man on 1A Highway.

“My motorbike ran out of gas - I have been walking nearly 2 kilometers without finding a station. Fortunately, I met Tung, who gave me one liter of free gas,” said Cong, the lucky beneficiary.

At 1 a.m., Huynh Thanh Sang’s motorbike hit a nail near Ga intersection, five kilometers from his home. After walking three kilometers, the tired Sang finally met his savior mechanic.

"At first, I was a little confused when someone offered to fix my motorbike for free in the middle of the night. I thought I would somehow be ripped off, but was surprised when my offer of payment was rejected. He didn’t even give me his phone number," a grateful Sang recalled.

Besides refueling and patching tires, Tung also changes spark plugs and replaces gears, often struggling up to an hour to get the job done.

Gaining someone’s trust is not guaranteed, as Tung found out when encountering a man walking beside his motorbike nine kilometers from Thu Thiem Bridge. When Tung offered to help, the man refused fearing he too would be scammed.

"At the time, I told him if I were to scam him, he could proclaim it to the world. When I eventually finished the free job, he could not thank me enough. Turns out he had no money on him to begin with,” Tung said.

Each night, Tung works until 2 a.m., covering a total 100km and helping on average of three people.

Despite balancing two jobs, Tung still prioritizes family time.

"It costs about VND2 million ($85) a month to volunteer. Though I’m not rich, it gives meaning to my life," he confirmed.