A Night at Full Moon Village

accommodation - Phan Thiet: July 13, 2015

City Pass Guide visited Full Moon Village Resort in Mui Ne for two nights and two days of natural bonding, excellent food and a beautiful beach backdrop. Two of our writers collaborated together to write their inspired experiences of boozy team building and bonfire nights.

Water Activities at Full Moon Village

I should probably have been born a fish. Want to know why? It’s a pretty weird statement to make, yep, I get that...but it makes perfect sense. Since I was very young I have been drawn to bodies of water.

I love the ocean. I grew up in Sydney, and I learnt to duck under those unfeasible monsters that pummel the Sydney coast and grab onto the sand on the seabed practically before I learnt to read. I love swimming pools - crystal blue, the tang of chlorine clinging to my stringy hair, floating in silky liquid under a hot sun… Even bath-time was an adventure! And Full Moon Village had a stunning bathtub believe me.

But it was the gorgeous, shaded pool at Full Moon Village which charmed me most. This big stretch of deep aqua blue was one of the most well kept, beautiful man-made bodies of water I’d ever seen. It was a shared pool for all the guests of Full Moon Village, nestled among the villas. It even had a pool bar! Lagoon-like, surrounded by soft deck chairs and tickled by tens of sea-green palm fronds, as soon as I saw our swimming pool I just wanted to hop in.

And later that evening, we did.

We had taken dinner in town at Mui Ne, and as we arrived back at the resort with sand on our toes, the moon winked at us from the sea. It was warm. We were all full with delicious BBQ and one of the nicest dry white wines I’d ever tasted (but then, I am a novice). The little girls were sleepy, as little children tend to be when it is well past their bedtime, and everyone else seemed to be in that pleasant, dreamy mood that adult people also tend to be when it is well past their bedtime and there is delicious white wine. We talked about deep things like the purpose of life and how to be truly happy. We nodded our heads wisely and admired the words flowing out of our mouths… and, with a crisp hotel towel and a glass of gin a tonic, a lot of our number found ourselves at the pool.

Have you ever swum in a pool in the middle of the night? The water is black, solid, silky and soft on your skin as you dip in your toes. Full Moon Village is about half an hour from Mui Ne’s main town and miles from any other city, so as you step into the dark velvet of its midnight lagoon and let the water hug your shoulders, the air around you is as still as the water and the sky above holds a thousand twinkling stars.

We sipped our nightcaps slowly and watched the night. Some of us mucked around, splashing, giggling, and some of us leant back and soaked it all in. Some of us swam, just to feel the vitality of moving in something so smooth, and some of us dangled our legs into the water and let it swirl around our heels. I remember joking, I remember talking without thinking, and I remember racing but giving up halfway because I’m a lousy swimmer. We all laughed that night. As the dark blackened and the hours wore on, more nightcaps flowed and our deep conversation deepened. The moon watched us. And behind us our villas waited, warm and comforting. We could sleep soon... pretty yellow lights blinked from behind black palm fronds. Fireflies in the night. We could sleep soon… or we could wade in the water.

BBQ & Bonfire at Full Moon Village

After an eventful day out kayaking in a jellyfish-infested sea (my co-worker and I flipped our kayak twice in a row, frantically trying to turn it right side up and scrambling back into our seats like frightened dogs) the company went down to the beach for the evening.

Two bonfires were set up as the sky grew dark. Coolers with beer were brought and crackly pop music began to play from someone’s phone. Singing rose sonorously and softly as a Full Moon worker lit one, then the other bonfire and the flames shot up.

It didn’t feel much like a company trip. It felt like a night out with good family and friends. Swigging a beer, I sat by one of the bonfires and began to meditate. Two of our staff joined in on the sweaty activity, a small crew singing along with the phone behind us.

Nearby was a large group at a beachfront dining table. The kids from the group came by and began playing around with the bonfires, throwing sand and dancing around like tribal natives. It’s hard to forget images like these, especially on a languid Saturday night in Mui Ne.

This is how team building should ideally look like: like a long, eventful day and night out with close kith and kin, a way to be yourself around the people you work with, a way to untangle professional stresses.

The bonfire rose and fell and shot pine-needle strips of flame into the sky. The tinder on the left began to collapse. As children and co-workers passed by between the fire and I, there was a momentary coolness. By this time the two co-workers on either side of me had left, retreating to a less sizzling area by the little a cappella group nestled amidst deck chairs and beer a few meters away.

Full Moon Village feels like the summer camp you actually looked forward to attending when you were a kid, albeit with extensive amenities, a gorgeous beachfront backdrop and quite a bit more alcohol. Team building can oftentimes feel forced. Luckily the resort provided an environment where we could all do our own thing, but interact long enough in our large shared villas to coordinate group activities once in a while.

Many companies scratch their heads on how they can combine work and play into effective team building. What I found at Full Moon Village was that it requires dropping both terms and simply letting the team mingle, drink and bond. Somehow, yet-unplanned but now coordinated activities arise where both work and play are employed. Just the other night, as the outdoor BBQ was being set up, out of a giant mess of raw meat and fish and a cluster of co-workers materialized an orderly system. BBQ chefs were elected, while employees held a phone out to provide light, opened clams and carried raw meat over, proffered plates, assisted the makeshift chefs and set up the table. 

The formula generating this much-desirable result? The setting (beautiful villa resort) and the freedom to bond at our own pace. From there, suggested activities are enthusiastically considered. We hardly followed our initial itinerary, but the freedom to step outside the rigid schedule is what brought us closer together. 

As I sat meditating on the sand on the last night in Full Moon Village, the bonfire to my left collapsed. Stars were growing brighter, the team less fervent, the singing down to a single vocalist. Soon we would go back to our shared villas after a long day. Team building was hardly on our minds when we arrived. But after our trip it was the only thing we were doing – we just didn’t exactly know it at the time.

Collaboratively written by Alex and Zoe from City Pass Guide.