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YPT, a China-based travel company, is cashing in on the Trump-Kim summit hype

When Lee Parry heard that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump would meet in Hanoi, he knew he wanted to be part of the action and soon booked a trip. He joined the ‘Trump-Kim Vietnam Summit Tour’ being put on this week (February 24 to March 2, 2019) by a China-based travel company whose slogan states “destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from” – including North Korea.

At the Eye of the Storm
The trip to the Vietnamese capital is not exactly a daring one, but a chance for visitors to be part of the flurry surrounding Trump and Kim’s second meeting this week. “It’s a lot better than seeing it on Twitter or Facebook,” said Parry, 36, a British student living in China. “To be at the forefront of that and to get to see it in the flesh was too good to pass up.”

Witnessing History
On the agenda are several well-trodden stops on the Hanoi tourist trail: The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the war museum and the former “Hanoi Hilton” jail where American prisoners of war including John McCain were held during the Vietnam War. Also included are some summit-specific sites such as the Melia Hotel, where Kim is expected to stay.

“If it ends up being successful, if it ends up being a good summit, we’ve witnessed history in the making,” said Gareth Johnson, director, Young Pioneer Tours (YPT). YPT, founded in 2008, is run by a group of expats living in China who, according to their website, claim to “enjoy fantastic relations with our colleagues in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)”.

Also Read: Eating Through Japan - One Meal at a Time

Kim’s Arrival
Kim arrived in Hanoi on February 26, 2019, following a marathon 4,000-kilometre journey through China on his trademark olive green armoured train. The capital’s streets were lined with armed soldiers and military vehicles – highly unusual for a foreign leader’s visit to Vietnam. Hanoi’s historic downtown was also packed with well-wishers who like the YPT group were eager to witness history.

Feeling the Hype
For some, it was a repeat affair. “I went to Singapore for the first summit, and now I’m here because I’m just wishing for the best. I hope they make a good connection here,” said a South Korean tourist, waving the Vietnamese flag.

The city has been swarming with the press in recent days with some 2,600 journalists registered to cover the summit on February 27 and 28, 2019. Joining the media frenzy was part of the appeal for Neel Sapre, an Indian sales manager on the tour. “It was awesome, I’ve never seen so many press people at one location, so it was fun being amongst the hype,” said Sapre.

Vietnam’s national railway service got in on the action too, offering all journalists registered to cover the summit free train travel until the end of March. Also seeking to make the most of the event, Vietnam unveiled a “special stamp collection” on February 26 to mark the Hanoi summit.

Also Read: Facts, Folklores and Fables: The story of the Great Indian Railways

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