This time last year we were about to leave Phong Nha for a holiday, part of which included a trip to one of the best places I’ve stayed in Vietnam. As I’m currently immobile, aside from my crutches, I’m hoping for a return trip to help my recuperation. Here’s my experience which I wrote last year:
Our train on Wednesday 29th May (2019) from Dieu Tri station was due to leave at 08.39 and Captain Caveman had already got tickets online via dsvn.vn because he can use his Vietnamese bank card. As we were travelling in the daytime we got soft seats on the train to Tam Ky from our previous location near Quy Nhon.
On arrival at Tam Ky, later than planned because of a delayed train, we were met with pushy taxi drivers. Eventually we got a taxi and Captain Caveman gave the driver instructions for where to go. It was soon obvious that the driver didn’t have a clue where we were going as he tried to drive to an island instead of taking us to a port to go across by boat. Captain Caveman had arranged for the manager of our next ‘hotel’ to send a driver to collect us. First he directed the taxi to Tam Hoa where there was a small restaurant with a little jetty to get in the speedboat.
After a short (but exhilarating) ride we arrived at the jetty of Me Domaine de Tam Hai Resort where we were going to be staying for 3 nights.
We had a lime juice welcome drink and then we were shown to our villa (number 8) which was gorgeous. The whole place is on its own island with beach sand as the path to and from the reception an the villas, etc.
We had a late lunch sat by the water washed down with a bottle of chardonnay. I even managed to get the bikini on and one of my new dresses which was ideal for beach or pool lounging.
The cocktail happy hour was 5-7pm so we had to partake in a couple of margaritas before dinner. Prior to dining that evening a short storm came and cooled the temperature down a little so we ate in the bar area and drank wine. The manager confirmed we were the only guests and we chatted until quite late over a few drinks.
With just 2 days left of May and 5 left of my holiday from work I was so relaxed.
I had 5 walnut halves before breakfast (yes I was carrying them around for emergency nourishment purposes), on Thursday 30th May, then had orange juice, green tea, bacon and potatoes. We were allowed to take the speedboat out, borrow kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, bicycles or a motorbike to go and explore but instead we decided to chill out and do nothing except for make use of the pool, eat and drink (nothing new).
For lunch I had a delicious green papaya and shrimp salad with almost all of the bottle of chardonnay I said I would have just the one glass of. The guests who were meant to arrive to occupy 5 villas didn’t come and so, apart from a family who came to have a drink and check out the facilities (take selfies by the pool), we had the place to ourselves again.
We pre-ordered some seafood for the evening meal and so we went off to get ready for dinner this time, making sure we still had time for a couple of happy hour cocktails. Of course it is a small world so while having a drink with the manager we discussed how we knew a mutual friend who me and my friends know as the Judith Chalmers of the Insurance world, she had been here the week before us!
Our dinner was so tasty; Captain Caveman had scallops and clams (I had a couple of scallops despite being allergic to them) and I had the king prawn thermidor. The food was excellent, we already had some wine because the manager had insisted on us finishing off the wine she had opened for my cheese sauce! The three of us finished the night drinking wine and exchanging stories until well in to the night with the sound of the water rippling at the jetty and the odd bird or gecko noise.
Friday 31st May was our last full day here and of course I wished we were staying longer. We ate breakfast of pho bo, fruit and green tea by the water’s edge and then lounged outside our villa.
I had a fairly healthy lunch of chicken skewers with salad and steamed rice but couldn’t resist sharing a bottle of the pinot grigio with Captain Caveman. By the time it got to happy hour we were by the pool awaiting cocktails and chatting with the manager, who we really got on well with. That evening we had a lovely meal with more wine and stayed up chatting, listening to music and meeting the manager’s very scared dog, Lola, until gone 1am. Staying at Le Domaine, Tam Hai, had certainly helped me with my burn out and exhaustion that I think had been experiencing and on Saturday 1st June I had a big lay in!
Granted we were drinking until late but I actually fully slept in a dark and quiet room until 8.30am. Captain Caveman was the last out of bed as he felt a bit fragile, so much so that when he got his omelette at breakfast he didn’t look too clever. After eating he went back to bed while I packed, as the speedboat and taxi weren’t booked until 3pm – we were off to Danang for our last couple of nights.
We said our farewells to the manager with promises to keep in touch and hoping we would be back some day, then took the quick boat trip across to Ben Pha Tam Hai where our taxi driver was waiting.
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