20.02.2017 - 24.03.2017
The Hai Van Pass & Marble Mountain
There are a few different options when deciding how to travel from Hue to Danang: plane, train, bus, or motorcycle. The most stunning though, is driving the Hai Van Pass. This pass is quite famous and we were told specifically by some friends that we could not miss these views. We contemplated whether or not we should rent our own motorcycle and drive ourselves so we could get an incredible 360 degree view. However, if you’ve read any of our last blog entries you’ll understand how much we “LOVE” the traffic in Vietnam and how safe we feel on the roads , so we decided to hire our own driver and a car to summit the pass. We felt extremely happy with our decision when we started the incline on one of the most twisty, turny roads we have been on – on one side of the car was a cliff straight up the mountain and the other side, a cliff straight down to the ocean. With cars, motorcycles, trucks, cows, dogs, you name it, coming straight at you or darting out onto the already small 2-laned highway; we would have completely missed the views and scenery trying to dodge it all. So, while our driver had to worry about the oncoming traffic, we could sit back and relax (kind of) and enjoy the absolutely stunning views around us.
Once we summited the pass, we were surprised by what lay on top. Our driver informed us that this was an old military outpost. During the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the pass was an important military site which served as a protection for the Hue Royal Citadel. It also separates the north and south of Vietnam, and allows whoever controls it a very large field of view, which is why it also became a very strategic point for the US Military during the Vietnam War
Once we conquered the pass, we descended into the city of Danang. Danang surprised us greatly and though some people told us it was just a beach town that could be skipped over, we actually found some really cute treasures and some pretty neat attractions in and around the city. Our first stop was the Marble Mountains. It’s a group of 5 marble mountains named for the natural element it’s said to represent; Thuy Son (Water), Moc Son (Wood), Hoa Son (Fire), Kim Son (Metal or Gold) and Tho Son (Earth). Thuy Son is the only mountain open to the public which unfortunately made it very busy with tourists, but we were able to walk around freely and took in what we could.
Danang & Lady Buddha
After almost 2 weeks of straight sight-seeing adventures, we welcomed the beach with open arms. The first day, we literally did not leave the beach, which was a big feat for Sean! I’m usually the beach bum We had a few days of relaxation, listening to the waves crashing on the shore and soaking up the sun. To our surprise, the beach was fairly empty and we soon found out that it’s low season in Danang, which made our beach time that much better. On the morning of one of our beach days, we finally took the plunge and rented our own motorbike to head up one of the nearby mountains to see the Lady Buddha. Situated on a small hill on the mountain, the Lady Buddha is pure white and the tallest Buddha statue in all of Vietnam at about 220ft tall, overlooking Danang. It is so massive that you really just need to sit there for a few minutes to really take it all in.
At night, we explored the city a little more and found that it is super busy, filled with people and lights. The streets we walked on during the day suddenly filled with couples and families out for dinner or shopping, small circus areas that were creepily deserted in the day were now packed with kids playing and laughing. Even the bridges were covered with people taking pictures of the city and the famous fire breathing dragon bridge. The dragon bridge was our favourite, and a must see when in Danang.
As a suggestion from a friend, we sought out a little restaurant called Tam’s Pub and Surf Shop – the owner is this little Vietnamese lady, Tam, who was one of the translators for the American troops during the Vietnam War. She became friends with many of the soldiers, which in turn has allowed her to have an incredible amount of stories to tell with each wall in the restaurant telling some of those stories through pictures. As she learned to cook american food to help support the soldiers, She mastered the art of making her world famous bacon cheeseburgers, which are the BEST burgers we have ever had - EVER!!! So if you are ever in Danang please look her up and enjoy the stories. We are off to Hoi An now and the land of the eternal lanterns.