We wake up to a few clouds but no rain and it is surprisingly cool. Things heat up while we wait in line for the Victoria Peak Tram. Claiming through the mid-levels the sun breaks through for clear but hazy views of the skyline. The tramway building has been over hauled since our last visit. It actually was under construction at that time. There are more retail opportunities and eateries plus an audio tape for listening while viewing the skyline.
We leave the crowds for a leisurely walk on the Circle Peak Trail. It is frequented by joggers, hikers and locals walking their dogs. It is an enjoyable hour of lush foliage and some great city views. Upon completion, we have lunch at the red hilltop restaurant which has been in business for many years. We
Following a late arrival last night, we woke to a gray drizzle, a first for our trip. Nonetheless, the view from The Upper House is amazing (pics from our room).
By mid morning we were out walking around enjoying the cooling effect of the showers. The Upper House consists of the upper floors of the Marriott Hotel. At one time it was marketed as residential space and later renovated as a boutique hotel separate from the lower floors. We walk from Pacific Place through Hong Kong Park with its fountains, aviary, thi chi plaza, and, small Olympic stadium, then down Queen Road with all the high end retail known to man. We continue on to Central Market and up the escalators to the top of mid -avenues. We backtrack a little onto Hollywood Road with its galleries and antique stores. We make our way down to the central retail hub of Landmark Atrium and Mandarian Oriental for a great Thai lunch at Mak Mak.
Dinner is in Kowloon on 28th floor of One Peking Road with a colleague of Jon, Jake.
Early morning we have our final plunge swim, dress, pack up, and check out of the Amano’i. It is about an 1 1/2 hour drive to the Can Ranh Airport (major US airport in American war). A 35 minute flight and we arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City where we pick up our previous guide – Joe – and driver.
Since we spent little time exploring in the central city area, we decided to do some walking starting around the Post Office, Notre Dam church toward the Opera House (above). The construction of the subway has torn this area up almost to non recognition in some areas. The old hotels, Rex, Continental, Caravel, have received or in the process of receiving make-overs. The era of high end retail has managed to capture the street real estate’s eyes and wallets of visitors to this area. We checked out the lobby of the new Revierie Hotel- on par with a Dubai Lobby.
We checked out the Park Hyatt for a Vietnamese lunch at SquareOne. It remains an excellent refuge in the city. The salon lobby of the hotel was packed.
To round out our tourist edges we visited the Bao Tang Phito, Fito Museum, the museum of Vietnamese traditional medicine. The wood house of one of the Vietnamese fathers of traditional medicine was moved from Hanoi to the south to this site. The wood structure and carvings are extremely detailed. The artifacts of herbal pharmacology including early jars, grinders, and potions stored in rice wine were worth seeing. We managed to obstain from purchasing any of the local healing aids.
The last temple of the day was the large and more recent Chua Vinh-Nghiem Pagoda. Since the Buddhists were celebrating the date of baby Buddha’s birth, many people were in the temple chanting along with the monks.
Seemingly redundant, we spend the day in the water and at the beach. Mid- morning we went out in the bay on a Hobie Cat to check out the view from off shore. The wind cooperated for a fun and beautiful ride. We both took turns captaining the boat to make the trip more challenging.
We finish our stay at the Amano’i tonight before flying back to Saigon and then Hong Kong.
Time is flying and yet we have a leisurely swim in the morning, followed by breakfast and return to reading poolside until lunch time. We adventure out of the resort by car up the highway 20 minutes, then take a boat to have lunch on the Binh Hung Island Floating Restaurant. As the name suggests it is anchored off of the island in a beautiful inlet bay.
Lunch is still alive. We walk on the deck of the floating structure checking out all of the varieties of fish and sea food waiting for selection. It is difficult to chose from jumping snails, crabs, lobsters, squid, mackerel, sea bass, etc. Our appetizer/teaser are snails followed by a main course of fish (in the net). Jon abstained from the sea snails. Our guide from the resort set us up “Aman” style with china, silverware, linen napkins, etc. It’s all about the sauces – we like spicy so our three choices are green, red, and black (chilies and pepper). We gorged ourselves since it was so fresh and inviting.
When finished, we stopped in the nearby fishing village of Vinh Hy, also situated in the Nui Chua National Park. This small town has been a hub for fishing for over a hundred years. Early morning and overnight fishing creates a sleeping daytime atmosphere while the men are sleeping.
We return to jump in the pool.
The temperatures are hot. We swim at 6 am in our pool, breakfast, and head on down to the beach. This is our introduction to the Beach Club with its pool, restaurant, and water activity center. We spend the day on the beach reading and swimming in the bay to cool off. Lunch is at the restaurant on the beach.
Late in the afternoon, we check in at the spa for our treatments. The day is complete with dinner and a post dinner swim.
The resort has 2-4 rooms occupied this week providing a very quiet and lazy environment for our stay. We understand that Thur will be the onset of a wedding party and things will change dramatically. Because of the slower pace, we have enjoyed talking with the chef about the fresh fish caught today and recommendations for preparation of our dinner.
Waking up to fog reminded us of home. Quickly we realized that we are in Dalat listening to the early morning sounds of church bells, roosters, dogs barking, motors, etc.
After checking out of the Ana Mandara, we start our drive to the coast. The hills surrounding Dalat are filled with plastic covered green houses in every direction. Flowers, fruits such as strawberries and melons, vegetables including artichokes are cultivated under these white incubators.
Since Dalat is in the mountains, the next couple of hours were spent on windy narrow roads decending down through the forest to the dry flatlands. The temperature differential was significant when we stepped out of the car at sea level. Our route takes us on a big loop through Nha Trang, the beach town and major center of Russian tourists, Can Ranh, the former US base, Phan Rang, and on to Vinh Hy Village. We stop briefly at the Po Klong Cham Towers in Phan Rang to view the ancient temple still used by the Chams for pilgrimages.
Our driver and guide had never been to the Amano’i resort so we had some frantic phone calls to obtain accurate directions. Thirty minutes later we arrived at the resort and the Aman staff took over. Our ocean pool pavilion overlooks Vinh Hy Bay and we settle in for a quiet afternoon with tea and a plunge before dinner.