Da Nang is on the way to Hoi An. Flying in, it is the closest airport. When teaching in HCMC I’d heard it was a good place to live and work so instead of just passing through I stayed a couple of nights just to see.
The fifth largest city in Vietnam, it has no where near the sprawl ofHCMC. Twenty minutes on a motor bike and you’re well out of town. Even in town the traffic is barely congested and drivers appear to obey the rules.
I’d been told by a Vietnamese friend that Da Nang was one of only five provinces where residents trust the police and government. My friendly hotel owner confirmed, adding they had a low crime rate, people obeyed the rules and it was a safe pace to walk about. Certainly on the beach there were signs of trust as people just bundled their belongings in a plastic bag and left them when they went of a swim. Not quite so trusting I opted for a supervised deck chair foe the princely sum of 70p.
Fishing boats, Da Nang
Da Nang has no great historical buildings, but there is an interesting dragon bridge which blows fire at weekends. Sadly I missed that spectacle. Though growing at a rate of knots the city does feels pleasant, light and airy. Unfortuately high rise blocks are being throwing up in reckless abandon all along the sea front, squeezing the fishing villages into a smaller and smaller space.
The small museum may be of interest to archaeologists but I’d rather see statues in situ. The museum shop had a good line in recycled bags made from beer cans. Within easy motorbike distance are Marble Mountain and The Son Tra Peninsular, or Monkey Island. Both doable in one day, so unless you love lying on the beach or use the town as base for visiting Hue and Hoi An a couple of nights, one day is all you’ll need.
To the south, Marble Mountain, is actually five mountains rising incongruously up from an otherwise flat coastal plane. Much marble has been quarried off and there are plenty of retail opportunities for anything from a bracelet to a Buddha. Beware the free parking. Offered by shop keepers if you by a ‘small’ thing. My shop keeper was not pleased as even though I had told her when leaving my bike I had no money or space I was subject to hard sell on return. I managed to reduce a bracelet from 300k to 60k. Still expensive for half a day’s parking.
But back to the hills,not really mountains, they are riddled with caves and many Buddhist temples and sanctuaries. Places of pilgrimage to some. Foliage grows amongst the rocks and in April it was teaming with butterflies. Even with a lot of people about it was possible to find quiet, tranquil places to explore. For the more adventurous, I only discovered when I arrived, there is a company, Phat Tyre Ventures, who will help you climb the sheer rock faces.
one of the marble mountains, unattractive from a distance
After pottering around the rocks and pagodas for a few hours I headed back to Da Nang and the Son Tra peninsular, Monkey Island. I did see a couple of monkeys raiding rubbish bins but, I was told later, the monkeys are on the north side, I rode around the south. But the views of he coast are stunning and there is yet another temple to visit if you are not totally templed out. The Linh Ung Bai But temple is dominated by its white lady Buddha, which at over 67m can be seen for miles around. Impressive bonsai trees decorate the grounds and as with the rest of the peninsular there are stunning views over Da Nang and across the coast.
Linh Ung Bai But Temple
Destination Da Nang? Great for a couple of days, a break with good swimming. With hills on one side and coast on the other, I would think a good place to work, but not for a long vacation.
Taking a break at Linh Ung Bai But