Fishermen on Ke Ga Island prepare to go out to sea
"This is the life." I thought to myself as I lay soaking in a honey and flower bath tub in the tropical garden of the Princess D'Annam Resort & Spa. "Things can't get much better."
I was soon to be proved wrong, however.
While I was taking tea, I saw an imposing and mysterious stone lighthouse standing tall on a rocky outlet, protecting all boats in the area. It was getting late but I couldn't resist the idea of a sunset adventure to see Ke Ga lighthouse up close.
Ke Ga is a small village that lies on the coast. Under the water's surface, the sea bed is dotted with rocks that pose dangers to boats out at sea. The French built the lighthouse from February 1897 to the end of 1898 to aid both local and foreign ships. It began operations in 1900.
"No one has ever wanted to visit the lighthouse at night." the F&B manager of the resort, taken aback at my request, told me. "I will arrange for someone to accompany you."
Before long, I was walking down the beach, my feet delighting in the soft sand, with Le Nam, the member of staff nominated to make my dream of adventure come true. I didn't feel too sorry for him, though; he was grinning from ear to ear with the excitement of a newcomer that had just moved from Mui Ne (Ne Cape).
We reached the end of the bay where a fisherman took us across to the lighthouse in his basket boat. Waves attacked us from either side as the tiny boat bobbed up and down on the choppy waters.
After a fraught ten-minute journey, we reached a small island lined with large rocks into which waves crashed relentlessly, leaving in their wake white foam that swirled and frothed like a witch's cauldron. Up above, the crescent-shaped bay took our breath away. Further in the distance stood white sand dunes dotted with trees while looming above us was the old lighthouse that stood proudly and silently at the edge of the sea.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ke Ga is around 35 km from Phan Thiet Town in Binh Thuan Province, which is four hours by car from Ho Chi Minh City. Sinh Café has buses from HCMC to Phan Thiet three times a day.
Ke Ga Lighthouse, which was put into operation in 1900, is one of the oldest existing lighthouses in Vietnam
The wind was the only noise apart from the sound of the birds circling the top of the lighthouse
I wanted to spend more time watching the waves pound the rocks, but our tour guide hurried us along so as to see everything before it got dark. With the sun setting on the horizon, we passed the majestic frangipani (plumeria rubra) trees in full bloom, said to have been planted when the lighthouse was built.
Inside the lighthouse, it was cold and so dark that we couldn't see our fingertips. There was a spiral staircase leading to the top. And on the way up were small windows, similar to those of a French chateau, which looked out onto a breathtaking landscape. At the top was a balcony that held panoramic views of the surrounding coastal area and the sea. From there, I could see all the way to Mui Ne with its white sands.
The climb and the excitement upon seeing the view soon took its toll. We couldn't pass up the chance, however, to visit the only house on the island with its whitewashed walls and blue windows. We met Trung, one of the six people that take care of the lighthouse.
"I have lived here a long time and the weather has proved to be good for my health. Every day, I climb up to the top of the lighthouse at least once to check everything and to make sure the solar panels that run the lights are operational. Local and foreign boats pass by this area so it's important that the lighthouse is always on at night."
Trung was generous enough to invite me to come back and visit Ke Ga with my friends. "Next time, when you could come back with someone special please stay with us. It will be a night to remember."
The way back seemed more fraught with danger. In the darkness, the sea was more threatening and unpredictable with waves going over our heads, it seemed.
Just as we were about to board the boat to go back to the resort, we were stopped by a fisherman who invited us to his boat for dinner. It turned out he was from Quy Nhon Town in central Binh Dinh Province and had come here to work. The dinner of green mango salad, dried fish and fried pork was simple but tasty. Inside, I missed the fresh sea breeze and began to feel sleepy. Before long, we said our goodbyes with our new friends and headed back to the resort for a good night's sleep.
That was enough adventure for one day.