“All work no play makes Jack a dull boy” – that what’s my boss said on my first day with Travel Sense Asia. As a local tour operator, we are aiming at bringing the hassle-free expedition to the guest. And in order to do so, there shouldn’t be any stress or tension in our work. How come a tour operator make long journeys a piece of cake when its employees are also depressed?

That’s why in TravelSenseAsia, we hold a wide range of annual activities for all staff members. More than just an occasion to strengthen the internal bond, it’s a time for us, the service provider to experience what we offer for the guests.

This summer, we spent three days to explore in Halong, a UNESCO Site in Northern Vietnam. An ideal place for fun activities and relaxation.

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Here we are, at a UNESCO Site in Northern Vietnam

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We set off on a Friday morning, the sky seemed clear, expecting a day full of sunshine which was perfect for beach activities. As Halong is on the coastal area, the sun was forecast to be even more fierce, but no one worried that much because all were excited about the trip. Although I have been to Halong for several times, I’m still in awe whenever I come back the landing of descending dragons with various limestone caves emerging from the emerald seawater.

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Halong on a day full of sunshine 

Right after we set our foot in Halong, I could feel the ocean vibe from the briny scent surrounding us. We checked in at the Paradise Suites Hotel, a demonstration of grace invigorated by the mysterious Halong Bay. The hotel consists of boutique rooms tailored to surpass the expectations of the travelers inquiring class and sophistication. It is also the top favorite choice of accommodation picked by our clients on their Halong journey. As I reached the Paradise Suites, I know the reason for this.

In the afternoon, with the assistance of Duyen, who understands Halong as a local, we were led to a best-kept secret of Tuan Chau Island. It was a tranquil beach with turquoise water and golden sand. The sand and the sea under the dazzling sunshine became even more brilliant.

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On the gorgeous beach, we joined in a wide range of collective activities to build up mutual understanding. I so much enjoyed volleyball by the sea, in which both the mind and body was shaking every time someone hit the ball.

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The first night in the Paradise Suites was free and easy as we had been so active for the whole afternoon. Not to waste any moment here, I chose to have a short walk to the beach to relish in the ocean breeze while my colleagues spend the evening at the hotel and enjoy the high-quality amenities such as the outdoor swimming pool or the spa and wellness center.

Halong put on entirely different clothes after sunset. It will not be quiet and boring if you go to the beach at night when plenty of fishing boats raise their anchor and set sail for a night batch. I will never forget how quick and skillful their movements were. Despite the hardship, their smiles were still vivid.

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Tuan Chau, Halong in the afternoon

Next morning, we were transferred to Calypso Cruise for an overnight cruise in Halong Bay. It was my first time being afloat for such an extended period, so I got a bit nervous. What if I got seasick? Would it be safe and sound? Could the facilities onboard come up to my standards and expectations?

However, all my concerns disappeared when we reached Pha Giot ferry station. Calypso was waiting for us. By Calypso, I mean the vessel. It had 20 fully-furnished cabins with state-of-the-art equipment. The sundeck was vast enough for everyone to enjoy a panoramic view of Lan Ha Bay, a modest lagoon on the south of Halong Bay. 

The myth of Calypso has been inspirited into Calypso cruises. There are 20 luxury cabins on each cruise that are all finely equipped and exposed to the broadest view of the Lan Ha Bay. Restaurant on each Calypso cruise features a feast for the senses and a panoramic sundeck allowing different activities with the beauty of Lan Ha Bay. Despite less popular than Halong, you can take advantage of the low tourist density of Lan Ha to relish a leisurely trip.

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Lan Ha bay is the alternative to Ha Long bay to take advantage of the low tourist density

Kayaking in Lan Ha is a spectacular experience. 

What could be more enjoying than paddling in the emerald water reflecting the magnificent mossy mountains rooted deep under the sea? 

A few minutes after that, you will find yourself in a limestone cave with numerous stalactites in mysterious shapes. And before you can realize it, your mouth is wide open; your eyes are staring in awe when seeing the sparkling of the stalagmites.

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We held a Gala Dinner Party at night. We savored the best seafood, raised our glass, and shared exciting memories as a part of TravelSenseAsia. The chief executive’s speech about the vision and mission struck me so hard. It’s not all about making a profit; it’s about bringing the real value for the customers, the employees, and the society as a whole. The memorable night rounded up with our favorite songs and the gentle sounds of the waves lapping two sides of Calypso. The breathtaking view of Lan Ha like a soft lullaby lulled me to sleep comfortably after stretching my back on the comfortable king-size bed in my cabin.

I was woken up when the sun started to rise, the room turned into a blink blink box full of bright light. Such an enjoyable experience that I can never have in the hustle and bustle of daily life. The schedule for the last day of our company trip was to visit Hospital Cave on Cat Ba Island.

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View from Hospital Cave

The cave is located halfway up the mountain area of Khe Sau, Tran Chau commune, a part Cat Ba National Park. The cave has a unique structure with stalactites and coastal limestone formations formed by sediments, creating a mysterious and romantic space for adventurous souls. During the Vietnam war against the American, Hospital Cave was transferred into a Hospital (that’s how it has the title as it is) with around 17 clinics and functional rooms that can contain up to 100 patients. Through many ups and downs of history, structures Hospital Cave remains quite intact, which helps us, the next generations, understand more about a tough period of the Vietnamese and respect the sacrifice of the previous generation as well as appreciate our life in a peaceful world.

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Though it was just a short trip, I learned a lot about the beauty of my country and the direction of my career. Right now, I am full of joy as I can help others experience the best things of Vietnam and other nations as I did.

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