As Good As Vietnam Gets
In Halong Bay, Following In The Footsteps Of A Cosmonaut
As the general manager of Paradise Cruises in Halong Bay, I’m lucky. Not only do I get to experience Vietnam’s most famous natural attraction on a regular basis; I get to meet some of the most interesting people in the world.
On a recent overnight cruise, I noticed a man sitting on the sundeck by himself one afternoon. He was reclined, with his hands resting on his chest and a smile on his face. I had to introduce myself.
What I quickly discovered was that he was from Russia, and that he had just managed to fulfill a lifelong dream of sorts -- visiting Titov Island in Halong Bay.
Turned out, as a kid he idolized Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov, the second man to orbit the earth, and, as so many young boys do, became enamored with outer space.
As I listened to the man talk, I couldn’t help but gawk at his wristwatch -- one I recognized as extremely rare and expensive. Clearly, he possessed extraordinary wealth.
It occurred to me then that he probably had the resources to build his own ship to the stars. He didn’t get there (at least, not yet), but he did get to Vietnam. And he was over the moon.
“I always remembered that Mr. Titov went to the top of the island with Ho Chi Minh,” he said, “and now I’ve done the same!”
A moment later, he turned his head slightly and looked skyward, in the general direction of where the sun was beginning to slip behind the limestone karsts of Halong Bay. He still had that big smile on his face.
It’s funny, when you’re a kid, you come up with all of these ideas. Some are fleeting, but others stick with you. And those that stick have the opportunity to sprout into something wonderful.
As I was coming to this realization, one of the ship’s butlers walked up to us and extended a wine list to our content guest.
“Fantastic,” he said. “This is perfect.”