Ever felt like you were in a James Bond movie? From the beginning to the end, visiting Vin-Pearl Land is, well, odd. Prehaps on the Florida coast, in amongst other spectacularly well oiled tourist attractions, VPL would fit in. Out here, in the midst of 'south central' Vietnam, it's surreal. VPL declares its presence to the entire bay with a Hollywood style message prominently displayed in the hills. These hills belong to an island, which has been hired on a 50 year lease from the Vietnamese government. One of the owners is a Vietnamese national who made his fortune in the Ukraine with an instant noodle factory that supplies Eastern Europe and Russia. Who doesn't like a steaming pot of spicy noodles on a winter evening in Moscow heh?
Following the coastal road out of Nha Trang, all of a sudden the town fades away eventually disappearing. It then turns into a kind of industrial estate where development, once again, is the only thing on the agenda. Vast areas are already cleared, prehaps for a VPL HQ, but one imagines that they already have one deep inside a 'hollowed out volcano' (AP) somewhere in the South Pacific. As the earth moving equipement noisly shifted gears on the land above me, I felt like I shouldn't be in sight and needed to hide behind a conveniently placed advertising board. Had I come across something I wasn't meant to be seeing?
Bizarrely, there was no place to park my bike at the ferry terminal, and I had to leave the Yamaha in the staff parking area. I felt bad for being so poor, and not arriving in a shiny gray beamer. I made sure that the poisned dart in my new wrist watch (a gift from Q) was on 'kill', and stepped into the lobby. The place was frequented by slavic looking gentlemen in white sailors hats. Obviously, with Russia having so much coastline they have a lot of sailors......
Since the cable cars weren't ready, we had to take the boat. Journey time, about two minutes, running 24 hours a day every 30 minutes. On the 'other side', the Disney experience truly began. Passengers were sheperded into large golf carts, which took us up a winding road to the other side of the island. Unfortunately, the visitors badge they gave me meant I couldn't pretend to be staying there. The hotel itself is of course damn good. It has over 200 rooms and also this, a kilometre of private beach with perfect surf. When we say private, we don't mean someone from the hotel has hammered a crude wooden sign into the sand, we mean that nobody else is on the island except the hotel guests and its visitors (by the way, it's $20 to visit...but you do get a free hat & pen, and a welcome drink).