BA VI ANNAM GARDEN
Bright Sunflower yellow-colored walls of Ba Vi Annam Garden welcomed us in as we followed the narrow brick pathway down the hill. As we parked the bike and headed towards the dining area, we were surprised by the hustle and bustle. “It must be a good place if it’s so busy during the Covid times”, I thought.
We took the time to hang around the place while the reception staff dealt with the guests checking out. Ba Vi Annam Garden is set on the feet of legendary Tan Vien mountain, the so-called “The lord of the mountains”. Small simple but stylish huts were scattered around on the base of the mountain. There is the main big swimming pool close to the reception, while on the other side there is another smaller swimming pool surrounded by small huts. In front of the main pool are two big grounds that eventually lead to the base of the mountain where a picturesque pond seems to proclaim the border of the mountain Lord’s territory. Another beautiful but bigger accommodation nestles on the edge of this lake along with its own swimming pool.
Ba Vi Annam Garden is the passion project of Kien and his wife Shelina. Kien studied in Poland and traveled extensively in Europe and other parts of the world. You can see the touch of various places he has visited in the architecture of the small houses he has built.
Our room was named Manzi after what the locals are called sometimes by the Chinese traditionally. Some find it a little offensive but Kien, the owner of Ba Vi Annam Garden loved it and embraced it. He is certainly proud of his heritage and rightfully so. The décor of the room is a mix of styles. It is quite spacious. On one side of the rectangular room, a big double bed seems to be invited and there is also a single bed next to the big window. The other side has a big comfy sofa with a cooling sky blue color that offers a great view outside of the pool in the shadow of green trees and the valley below. On the other corner of the room is a big shelf that doubles as a table. A big basket of snacks is full of goodies while the small fridge is well-stocked as well.
The invitation of the bed and sofa was tempting but we quickly grabbed a drink, changed, and jumped into the pool, which happened to be just outside our room. The temperature in Ba Vi is much cooler than in Hanoi but still so comfortable. If this is not heaven, what is? No wonder French colonizers chose it as a hill spot.
Later we went to hang around the Ba Vi Annam Garden and its grounds. At the back of the resort across the Lotus lake was an open iron gate that led to a path surrounded by fields. From here the views of the Tan Vien mountain at the back of the resort were spectacular. The moving clouds partially covered the peak and created a cinematic scene that was hard to take the eyes off. Luckily we were not really in a rush. Finally, we turned our backs towards the mountain and went for a stroll on the wide path between the fields.
The sky was partially covered with clouds but the sun was safely tucked away behind them too. The silky soft breeze infused with the perfume of local flora reminded us that the most beautiful images and videos cant convey the real feeling of being in a place yourself. We closed our eyes just for a bit to feel it but the eyes quite did not want to be shut for long and who could blame them.
When we came back, the waiters were taking orders. The vegetarian options were limited but the staff was very friendly and accommodating. We ordered some tofu with tomato sauce and they were happy to prepare it for us even though it was not on the menu. The dinner was served in style too. In the late evening, the staff of Ba Vi Annam Garden started to decorate tableware on the tables outside the rooms. All rooms had semi-independent courtyards decorated with lights and shaded by the trees and foliage.
Soon the food arrived and we were invited to enjoy the meal. The lights were switched on to make it even more glamorous. Surprisingly there were not a lot of mosquitoes yet someone brought a fan for us so it’s not too hot. We savored every single bite of the delicious food. When we were finished the table was cleared as swiftly as they were decorated. While we were enjoying the drinks, a waiter brought a complimentary big piece of Jack fruit.
Later at night, we sat on the comfy sofa till late, our eyes glued to the insta-perfect view from the window of the water in the pool reflecting the lights, the trees showered in the yellow lights of the bulbs and the other rooms in the distance. Then it started to pour down. From the comfort of our villa with huge windows, it was a spectacle worth watching.
Trip to Ba Vi National Park
After a comfortable night’s sleep, we woke up to a beautiful day. It seemed perfect for checking out what Ba Vi had to offer. So after breakfast, we headed towards the national park on our bike. The path was not hard to find and all the attractions were on the same road so you could not miss them. The hike to the two peaks was not that hard as there were stairs to climb up although we did find some people struggling on the way up. Some women were going down bare feet with their high heels in their hands.
One the way back from the mountain God’s temple, the rain made us take shelter in a resting place. Unsurprisingly it was one of the best memory of our whole to the Ba Vi national park. As the rain poured, we looked all around. We were in the middle of a thick forest full of old trees. We were high enough that the clouds seem to be all around us. As they moved swiftly with the wind, it felt like some ancient spirits are moving with their white robes following them. These are the kind of moments that you cherish forever and they are what make you leave the comfort of your home and travel. We loved the hikes. The cave is a little underwhelming though.
The visit to the Cactus Garden brought mixed feelings. It was clearly abandoned, perhaps due to the lack of funds. The door was open but the grounds were overgrown. The main dome’s plastic covers were torn from many places. People had written names on the leaves of the precious cacti and many of them were broken. But there was a strange beauty in this decay as well. It would certainly make a good set for a music video or a film or even a fashion shoot.
What a Trip
We came back in the evening tired but fulfilled by the whole day of hiking. We just chilled by the poolside, enjoyed delicious food, and swam in the pool. It was certainly a visit we will remember for a long time and Ba Vi Annam Garden is also one of the places we would love to return to.