I planned to enjoy staying in bed late to enjoy the pristine hide-away I had found combing the beauty of beach and forest. However, the glow of dawn, the lapping of the waves and the song of birds urged me to be the first one to wake up.
Way out: A peaceful view of Hon Heo Peninsula overlooking Ninh Van Bay. — VNS Photos Minh Thu
|Om: A tourist meditates near An Lam Waterfall on Hon Heo Peninsula.
I spent the most wonderful morning in my life. The tide ebbed, leaving behind sparkling snails on a white sandy beach. Two squirrels chased each other on branches. A gecko snapped its tongue in and out.
My first day on Hon Heo Peninsula had begun. The peaceful space seemed to belong to me and the local wildlife.
An Lam Villas staff picked up me at Cam Ranh airport serving the coastal city of Nha Trang. After 40 minutes by car and 15 minutes by speedboat, I reached the resort on Hon Heo Peninsula overlooking Ninh Van Bay.
Bungalows covered with palm leaves were scattered along the beach among the rocks, hills and vegetation. The beach was quiet and private, so I could splash in the water after a few steps from my bungalow.
Soaking up the green of the tropical forests and the mountains studded with massive granite boulders looking out over the sea, it's time to slip away with a gourmet hamper.
Or then there's the choice of therapeutic spa treatment. It's all about peace, privacy and the ultimate Vietnamese luxury holiday.
Walking through the rain forest, I was surprised to come across a Vietnamese-style tree house containing about 250 bottles of choice wine. There was even a platform where I could sit and taste a selection. The set-up can also be reached by a rope bridge from a neighbouring library in another tree house – a unique experience.
Hon Heo Peninsula kept me busy for days. Mangrove forests and sand dunes along the coast, streams and even a waterfall added to the enjoyment of trekking. On day two, I was taken to an area known as Ka Lam 10 minutes away by boat.
The site is quiet apart from the song of birds and the surf. Walking along a 200m trail full of obstacles, I reached the most beautiful waterfall on the peninsula. It fell into a large pool where we swam with joy.
In the afternoon, we transferred from the speed-boat to a luxury yacht and wandered around the bay to enjoy the sunset. Flocks of gulls curiously hovered around us, swooping up and down.
On the way back to our villas, we visited a lobster farm to talk with farmers about their work. We bought a lobster for dinner on the beach.
By the end of the year, a hiking trail will be established around 65ha on the peninsula, said Cao Do Dinh Phong, a staff member at An Lam Villas.
"We receive many foreign tourists, especially from Germany, Australia and Russia," he said. "Vietnamese tourists make up about 40 per cent.
|Still waters: Hon Heo Peninsula is ringed by lagoons and rocks.
"We have started a cooking school so that tourists learn how to cook Vietnamese or European food. They can also visit gardens where all the vegetables served at the restaurant are grown.
Sue from Australia and her husband Malcolm love Viet Nam and have travelled here many times. They spent nine nights at the resort, which they said was not enough for them.
"After a short boat trip we were welcomed to Hill Top Villa. We had a wonderful view of the bay from our bedroom window. We thought we were in heaven," she said.
What impressed them most was the service from the staff. "We had a butler who went out of her way to make sure we were looked after discreetly, even arriving at the spa with umbrellas after our treatment because it was raining and she did not want us to get wet," she said.
The couple had a problem with their air conditioner and were upgraded to a spectacular Lagoon Villa and a barbeque dinner on the pool deck.
"It was almost a full moon, the water was lapping at the rocks and the food was great," Sue said. "We had our own waiter and cook who not only performed well, but also surprised us with stories behind the food."
When darkness fell, everything becomes quiet. Night can be quite boring because we didn't know what to do before sleeping. However, my far-sighted friend had brought a pack of cards, so we enjoyed many games until eyelashes collapsed. — VNS