Surprising path

Ho Chi Minh, before becoming the first president of Vietnam, spent years travelling the world. He once worked as a cook in a hotel in Boston.

Ho Chi Minh put to sea from French-occupied Vietnam at the age of 21, in 1911, to work as a cook on a steamship. He was well-educated and came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family. But finding his prospects stymied by imperial French control of his homeland, he was probably already politically active. So, he may have been looking for a way to broaden his horizons and see the world, rather than embarking out of poverty or desperation.