Last September, Erwin Hymer Group of North America took advantage of the Hershey Recreational Vehicle Show to showcase three models of caravans that are soon to appear in the North American market. At the end of November, the company was re-offending by showing these models again at the Louisville, KY show. Camping Caravaning had also echoed this good news in its March-April edition.
You will also recall that on this blog, in a post published on March 19, entitled A Very Severe Opinion, I reported an interview with Jim Hammil, the great boss of EHGNA, in which he made very tough comments about the quality Caravans made on our continent. All this to put you in context.
The caravans unveiled at Hershey do not yet roll on our roads, but it will not be long. Hymer acquired a factory made available following the setbacks of the BlackBerry phone company in Kitchener ON. Currently, the company is working to adapt this factory which will be entirely devoted to the manufacture of its caravans.
Even if they are built on our continent, Hymer caravans will benefit from design and manufacturing technology from Germany, which in itself is already a guarantee of quality. Marketed since 1958 under the Eriba brand, the Touring series has become a European icon as well as Airstream in America. Responding to the tastes and needs of modern campers, Touring will shortly begin its conquest of the new continent. It is to be expected, however, that the variation proposed here differs somewhat from the European model.
In Europe, to increase the internal volume, the Touring has a rigid roof that can be lifted, but the sides are made of canvas incorporating mosquito nets. However, market research has shown that our neighbors, refractory to canvas walls, prefer a fixed roof. Moreover, for them, the presence of an air conditioner is a must. The caravans of the Hymer company that will crisscross our roads will therefore be adapted to the North American whims.
However, transforming and adding accessories such as a microwave oven may add weight to these caravans known for their lightness as well as their solidity. This overweight seems unfortunately the price to pay to be accepted Americans.
The models presented at Hershey and Louisville had exceptional qualities in weight. Depending on the length, their unladen mass varied from 900 to 961 kg while the weight transferred on the attachment of the car was of barely 45 kg. These characteristics, which are really not used to, ensured that a Touring could be towed by almost any car. In Hershey, the tractor used was a Mini Cooper.
Its Al-Ko chassis, incorporating an anti-separation system and an independent suspension axle, opens up a towing physics that is not known here. This concept, which prevails throughout Europe, ignores the towing standards applied by the US industry where a much greater weight is transferred to the tie. I must confess that you are particularly looking forward to a road test of this new approach to towing.
During the summer, I plan to go to Ontario to visit the plant where these small caravans will be made to learn more about this product that is likely to make waves in the industry. Until then, to make you wait and to tickle your imagination, here is a link that will allow you to get a better idea of these caravans. Even though this is the European version of the Touring, what will be offered in America should look very much like the 542 with twin beds displaying a tip in the center.
Halong Bay is one of the world’s natural wonders, and is the most beautiful tourist destination of Vietnam. Halong Bay features more than one thousand awesome limestone karsts and islands of various sizes and shapes along the 120-km coastline of Bai Chay Beach. Its waters are host to a great diversity of ecosystems including offshore coral reefs, freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forests, small freshwater lakes, and sandy beaches. The folk tale has it that the dragons descended from heaven to help locals by spitting jewels and jade to the sea, forming a natural fortress against invaders; these precious stones are represented by the lush green outcrops. Several islands boast beautiful grottos and caves with contiguous chambers, hidden ponds and peculiar stone formations. Halong Bay is about 170 kilometers northeast of Hanoi and 3,5 hours by road. The bay consists of a dense cluster of over 3,000 limestone monolithic islands (although locals claim there are only 1,969 as this is the year of Ho Chi Minhs death), each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes cave) is the largest grotto in the Ha Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotto des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuần Châu and Cat Ba, that have permanent inhabitants. Both of them have tourist facilities including hotels and beaches. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the smaller islands. Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes. Such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and lizards also live on some of the islands. Almost all these islands are as individual towers in a classic landscape with heights from 50m to 100m, and height/width ratios of up to about six. Another specific feature of Halong Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands. For example, Dau Be island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst. Sail-boats and motor-boats are available to take you on a panoramic journey of the bay with visits to some of the caves and grottoes. Halong Bay is an experience that will stay with you forever.