Tiger Tales

Tiger Tales – Cat Ba Island

There’s something primeval about Cat Ba a ferry from Haiphong or Halong City. If you are traveling independently, the hydrofoil from Haiphong is by far the most convenient rest of the year. Island. Emerging from the emerald waters of Halong Bay like an overgrown version of the thousands of limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the ocean, the island is an adventurer’s paradise of craggy jungle-clad peaks, freshwater swamps and coastal mangrove forests. Just 50 kilometres from the booming northern port of Haiphong, the island is a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists. At other times of the year, however, it makes a marvelously peaceful alternative to joining the steady flow of traffic headed directly from Hanoi to the interchangeable tour boats that patrol large swathes of Halong Bay. WHAT TO DO The karst-studded waters and the verdant hills that slope down into the sea are so beautiful that you would be forgiven for opting to spend your entire time here just marvelling at the stunning scenery, but those who eschew the life of a lotus-eater are equally well catered for.

Tiger Tales – High as a Kite

Try… glurggrowlglurg… moving your shoulder… glurgsputter…to 70 degrees… glurg.” I find it hard to digest instructions at the best of times, so I’m not sure why I thought I would be able to process them while snorting up mouthfuls of the South China Sea. I am in Mui Ne, a coastal resort town in south-eastern Vietnam, trying to get to grips with kitesurfing, an activity that in just a few years has gone from niche pastime to mainstream sport – practiced by everyone from Virgin Group head honcho Richard Branson to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The premise is simple: fasten your feet to a wakeboard or surfboard, harness your body to a giant kite and then hang on tight as the wind propels you across the sea at speeds – for those skilled enough – of upwards of 60km/h. Jumps can reach as high as 15m. As a novice, I didn’t expect to scale those peaks. Neither, however, did I predict that I would spend much of my time perfecting an impression of a drowning rat. As…

Tiger Tales – On the Birdie Tail

As I pull in to the driveway of Vietnam Golf and Country Club, on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, the beautifully manicured fairways and greens are bathed in an irresistible glow. I am about to start a golfing odyssey that will take me thousands of kilometres through one ofthe most alluring countries in the world. I have long been aware that South-East Asia possesses some sublime golfing real estate. In Thailand, you can barely take a short tuk-tuk ride without stumbling on a course while Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and even the Philippines also have a wealth of top layouts. Vietnam, however, is an unknown entity to me. The liberal in me is slightly uncomfortable with the appropriation of the wartime route used by the North Vietnamese to move troops and supplies to sell a pastime well-known for being somewhat bourgeois. However, at the same time I cannot help but salivate at the prospect of playing fairways that wind through jungle, between shimmering lagoons and along the shores of the South China Sea. Vietnam’s tragic recent history only adds to the…