What a beauty! As reported by AFP, North Korean interests have apparently refurbished – as best they can – a rundown 39-year old vessel to operate cruises to and from the Kumgang Mountains, a famed beauty spot. Running water can’t be guaranteed, and some passengers aboard the Man Gyong Bong have to sleep on the floor. Perhaps a bit of foreign know-how might help things along, but then again the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea typically goes it alone.
Visiting odd corners of unloved nations can be rewarding, if onerous, but this may be the nearest I’ll ever get to North Korea, a hair-raising experience in itself.
However, I think the good ship Bikoi, which shuttles Solomon Islanders back and forth across that island archipelago, is a worthy contender for the no-frills cruising award. Onboard catering consists of instant noodles served in a paper cup – just add hot water. Sleeping on a cabin floor would be a privilege; most passengers make themselves at home on the decks. Of course the operators of the Bikoi, a ‘pre-owned’ Japanese passenger ferry, don’t pretend to offer an all-comforts holiday experience. I enjoyed the experience – for a few hours, anyway.
Indonesian shipping operators come pretty close in the comfort states, too, as this pic from Lake Ranau, Sumatra, suggests.