Mix business and pleasure
13:13' 13/06/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge - Members of Amadeus group are heading to Yen Tu Mountain in Quang Ninh province for their annual Board of Directors' Meeting, but as it's just a stone's throw from Halong Bay, it's the perfect chance to have some leisure time before getting down to business.

Vietnam is fast becoming a place for all kinds of tourism activities. As a global company which provides new and effective distribution channels to travel services, acting as a bridge between travel services, travel agents and service users, Amadeus believes Vietnam has ample qualities to bill itself as a prime destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions).


Of course, the Amadeus team has to check this out for themselves so after making their way from Hanoi, the delegation boards a Halong junk which sets off, meandering through the beautiful islets, so all and sundry can enjoy the cool breeze and sunshine away from the traffic congestion, polluted air and heaving crowds of Hanoi during summer.


"It is really amazing floating around the spectacular landscape of Halong Bay.


How wonderful it is," says Carlos Romero, Vice President of Amadeus Asia Pacific.


After a lunch fit for a Roman Emperor all eyes move towards the peaceful coves in limestone islets where the blue waters wash upon white-sanded beaches.


The junk lowers the anchor by Bo Hon island where Sung Sot (which means surprise) cave can be found. The main `surprise' inside the I0,OOOsqmcave is the innumerable amount of stalactites and stalagmites. The interior is as large and imposing as a palace.


Next stop is Titov island


"The island was named after a visiting Russian Astronaut Giecman Titov in 1962 by late President Ho Chi Minh. Its old name was Cat Nang (meaning Sun and Sand)," says Tuan, a guide from Transviet Travel Group, Amadeus' local partner.


While some team members enjoy a dip in the ocean others try their hand at kayaking. For those looking for a worthwhile walk, a quick hike to the summit of Titov offers a sweeping view of the bay.


More of a surprise than Sung Sot cave is the gala dinner that awaits guests in Trong cave.


Hundreds of candles are lit while Spanish and Vietnamese melodies fill the air.


"It's really a dream for me. It's unbelievable," says David Brett, also a Vice President of Amadeus Asia Pacific.


"This time in Vietnam, besides our meeting, we want to carry out a survey of new destinations and we all agree that Vietnam is very suitable for MICE," says Brett.


The next day the party heads to the sacred site of Yen Tu mountain in the early morning. Before the meeting, the group takes a cable car a third of the way up the mountain, as far as Hoa Yen pagoda, before continuing to the summit by foot.


With bamboo sticks the team members happily traipse up the hillside. Gongs from a pagoda bell can be heard. Mist covers the stone paths and slopes.

Looking at these happy pilgrims, it's hard to believe they're off to a board meeting.


(Source: Timeout)

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