by Le Huong
(VNS) What have you got planned for Doomsday on December 21?
Grave expectations: Truong Son War Martyrs Cemetery is a destination for the Doomsday tours. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
|Lifting the lid: Tourists can experience death by lying in coffins.
Some people are worried about a Mayan prophecy that predicts the world is going to end before the year is out, possibly after being struck by a rogue asteroid.
The Doomsday topic is cropping in everyday conversation and has become a popular topic on Facebook.
"I believe it's true and the world needs to be reset...," wrote Facebook user "Hailun01".
Another user called "Humansoul" commented: "So why are packs of noodles still printed with an expiry date in 2013."
Nick "Mr Mun" wrote calmly: "Although Doomsday is approaching, I still have to work all day today."
Nguyen Phuc Giac Hai, from the Research Centre of Human Potential, said "We have nothing to confirm or deny the prophecy."
"In recent years, there have been many unusual natural disasters, new diseases and wars," he said. "We can just wait and see."
The Scientific Union for Sustainable Tourism Development (STDe) has its own way of anticipating the day. It has recently launched special products for Doomsday, which "are not for trading but for spreading a message: Death is not the end of everything but the start of a new life with new values. Whether Doomsday really happens or not, people should still strive for a meaningful life."
Nguyen Thu Hanh, chairwoman of the non-governmental union, said the products included tours to understand death, the meaning of life and the circle of birth, old age, disease and death.
Hanh explained that tours to understand death take in haunted forests, cemeteries, tombs, and former battle fields including Truong Son Trail, Dien Bien Phu, Quang Tri Old Citadel, My Son Sanctuary, Con Dao Prison, the Cu Chi Tunnels, as well as beautiful landscapes such as Sa Pa, Da Lat and Yen Tu.
Tours to understand the meaning of life look at human suffering with visits to war martyrs' families and children with HIV, Agent Orange or cancer, she said.
"These destinations are already popular, but maybe by looking at them from a new perspective, visitors will see them in a new light," Hanh told Viet Nam News.
|Dim view: Visitors share a dark room to contemplate Doomsday. — File Photos
The Doomsday tours are a totally new concept. Guests will stay in specially designed houses capable of coping with a Doomsday scenario where they will eat special food and take part in roleplays.
They may contemplate the meaning of life together and make gifts to send to loved ones, or even imagine they are king for a day, a famous innovator or an artist, she said.
In tours to understand the circle of birth, old age, disease and death, people can learn how to prepare for a perfect death and lie in a coffin in order to wake up feeling fresh to continue a "new period in life", she said.
"For these new ideas, we are still trying to co-operate with other tourism partners to make them feasible," Hanh said.
Researcher Pham Duc Duong, chairman of the Southeast Asian Studies Association, said cheerfully: "I'm over 80, and I want to experience the feeling of death on Doomsday so that I may have more living power."
Nguyen Ba Toan, director of the Four Seasons Tourism Company, the first to offer the new products, said that initially, the company provided trips to existing popular destinations like places of scenic beauty and former battle fields with the Doomsday theme.
"This was safer and less expensive for us," he said. "We are trying to market new ideas to potential groups of customers, preferably family members or close friends."
Toan added that the STDe Doomsday tours are a good way of breathing new life into the domestic tourism market, which is struggling due to the economic crisis. — VNS