Sea TREK Opens in Vietnam
Cham Island, Vietnam
The white sand beaches and lush tropical forests of Vietnam have made it a hopping tourist destination for vacation seekers around the world. From adventure travel to relaxing site-seeing — Vietnam is a beautiful country with much to explore. TripAdvisor even named Vietnam the #8 must visit destination in the world for 2016.
When Mr. Cuong Nguyen from Cham Island Tourist Company contacted Sub Sea Systems (SSS) and shared with us his plans for Sea TREK in Hoi An City, Vietnam, we were very excited. SSS has long thought that Vietnam would be a really spectacular place to offer non-divers (even non-swimmers) the experience that is Sea TREK.
Glen (Radar) Hershey, Sea TREK Installation and Systems Specialist, and Keenan Mayfield, Training Coordinator-in training, visited Vietnam to install the system and certify the Sea TREK staff. The two had an incredible time exploring Cham Island, meeting the friendly locals, eating delicious food, and of course setting up the first Sea TREK system in Vietnam. Radar and Keenan have been gracious enough to share some of their adventure with us!
11-Helmet, EP-1 Air Center System
The first thing both Keenan and Radar commented on when returning home was the hospitality in Vietnam. Radar said, “I have never EVER felt more at home.” The customer service, the food, the kindness and even the free (government provided) WiFi was prevalent everywhere they traveled. Both Keenan and Radar were very impressed and thankful for the WiFi. They described the locals as strong people, dedicated to their work, and full of humor and personality. They raved about the delicious food– Cao lau is Keenan’s favorite. He says it is similar to Pho, but it has its own unique Vietnamese flair. “We ate a LOT of noodles,” Keenan said with a smile.
The second most memorable part of their trip was dealing with lost baggage. When the two arrived in Da Nang, unfortunately their luggage did not. It was eventually found and returned to them a day later, but in the meantime they had to buy clothing. Radar is tall and Keenan is very tall. There was not much to choose from in larger sizes… So their styles were ‘interesting’ to say the least.
Keenan Mayfield trying to fit into the largest-sized, locally tailored clothing
The new Sea TREK location is in Hoi An City, which is an old French shipping town where much of the architecture reflects strong European influences. The streets are filled with open markets, and vendors are lined up and down the roads offering their merchandise. There is a constant flow of people buying and selling locally made fare. The vendors specialize in leather goods and handmade tailored clothing. These shops are open to bartering, and right now the Dong (Vietnamese currency), is more than 22,000 to one US dollar. With such a high currency exchange, you can imagine the numbers get confusing and can initially be quite shocking– for example, 150,000 Dong to buy lunch for two seems expensive, until you do the math.
Sea TREK dive site at Cham Island
Sea TREK will operate from a custom boat, designed and built in the traditional Vietnamese style. The boat will take guests to a dedicated location in beautiful turquoise waters off the coast of Cham Island, which is a part of Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, a world Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO, in the South East Asia Sea in Vietnam. Cuong and his company are growing coral reefs in this particular area as a way to take pressure off the natural reefs. The location is impeccably maintained and very clean (no plastic bags are even allowed in Hoi An City).
Cuong and his team worked tirelessly to prepare for the arrival of the Sea TREK system. Both Radar and Keenan agreed that Vietnam was one of the most well prepared locations, ready to receive and install the equipment, and begin their training. As Radar has experienced many times, language barriers delayed the training a bit, but by the end of the trip the new Sea TREK guides were knowledgeable, in control, and prepared to receive their first TREKKERS.
Newly trained and certified Sea TREK Staff
The best part of the whole trip, for both Keenan and Radar, was their daily rides to and from the Sea TREK site. Driving motor scooters, Radar and Keenan zipped through the traffic that consisted of scooters, bikes, chickens, taxis, buses and even water buffalo. There are no real laws or lanes to follow. A quick little beep and you can swerve around to get by. Check out Keenan on his scooter with a GoPro.
After a successful installation and training, Keenan and Radar enjoyed a little sightseeing before heading back to the states.
The Cargo Club, Downtown Hoi An
Thien Mu Pagoda, Huế
Emperor Nguyen’s Temple and Tomb, Huế
Although the flight home was unbearably long, Radar’s personal innovation got him through it.
Magazine sleep mask, Patent Pending, All rights reserved.
We’d like to welcome Sea TREK Vietnam to the worldwide Sea TREK family! Follow Sea TREK on Facebook to learn more about this location as it develops.