Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Week 16.2 - Da Nang

We bid a fond fair well to the family at the Thu Bon guesthouse as we took a private taxi 30km up the coast to our new home in Da Nang. Arriving at Cali Hotel we were pleased to see that it is located less than a 5 minute walk from the beach. So we quickly checked in, changed and headed to the beach. My Khe beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we have visited so far. The sea is a clear blue and warm like a bath, and the sand is so golden it glitters…though the best bit is that we had the whole beach to ourselves! 

After a few hours soaking up the sun, we started to get hungry so braved yet another local restaurant. A huge seafood place on the corner by the hotel, this place had normal person sized plastic chairs, and metal tables at a good height. Ordering was a little difficult but we ended up with a delicious meal of prawns, squid and egg fried rice, although we did order a bit too much for two.

The next morning we hired a moped once again, and drove up to Marble Mountain. Along the way a woman on a ped of her own began chatting to us and asking where we were from and telling Kyle that he was a good driver. Little did we know that she was going to make us park in front of her store and try to get us to buy something, I thought that she was just being nice! Anyway, we left the ped and took the glass elevator to the top of the mountain, from here you can see along the huge stretch of beach in Da Nang, and all of it looks inviting. We walked round the mountain, taking in the views and exploring the caves and pagodas. It was a great experience, but a little dull in comparison to some things which we have seen already, and far too busy with other tourists!!

Kyle decided that we weren’t sweating enough, and led us down the stairs on the mountain…flash back to the Great Wall in China, looks like he’s getting tight again! When we arrived back to pick up the moped we were made to look round the store, and the lady begged us to buy a little souvenir, I don’t know what she thought we were going to do with a marble statue? So it was a quick run back to the ped and on to the Lady Buddha.
The Lady Buddha is set back in the hills over looking Da Nang bay, locals believe that she protects them from bad weather. The drive up was amazing, the views were spectacular and the long winding road was pretty empty, making for a nice drive. After seeing many coaches in the car park for the Buddha, we decided that we’d seen enough sights, and tourists, for the day so headed back for an afternoon at the beach. 

In China ordering food was a real struggle due to the language barrier, a problem which we hadn’t faced for a long time…until night 2 in Da Nang that is. We walked into the restaurant and all the staff started shouting, “English”, and next minute there was 8 members of staff surrounding our table. They handed us a menu that was all in Vietnamese and had no pictures! No pictures, I mean come on even China had pictures. We managed to discover that it was a bird restaurant thanks to google translate, but not your average bird like chicken and duck, no this was pigeon, sparrow and other wild birds. After discovering that it would cost us 300,000 dong for one whole chicken, we quickly made our excuses and left, were not rich enough for that!

So instead ended up in one of the busiest restaurants on the street, but the staff quickly made space for us and sent the youngest member of staff over to serve us, (he was the only one that could speak limited English). We ended up with another delicious sea food meal, and became the star attraction, with many of the Vietnamese staring at both of our tattoos..something which hasn’t happened since Cambodia.

The morning of the 8th of August, Kyle’s 28th birthday! A mad dash to the shop the night before from myself, saw him wake up to a sesame snap birthday cake, banana chips, baby wipes, crisps and a beautiful post card, just some of lifes essentials right there. To make up for the naff presents Kyle got to pick the days activity, so after a delicious fruit salad breakfast we soaked ourselves in suncream, put on our sexy helmets and headed towards the Hai Van Pass.

Da Nang to Lang Co beach is a 30km stretch of road over Hai Van pass. This road is newly built on the Da Nang side, and makes for smooth riding up and round the mountain with beautiful views of the Da Nang coast and city skyline. You’ve just got to watch out for the mountain goats and cows running across the road. Once you reach the top of the mountain you can walk around an abandoned fort covered in bullet holes, and this is the only place you’re officially supposed to stop on the pass. The road into Lang Co isn’t as smooth but there are many work stations along the way, where there are supposed to be people working on the roads, though most are sleeping in hammocks.  Scattered along the roadsides are many shrines, these are for people who died in road accidents along the pass. Whilst driving along we noticed many people leaving or burning coloured cards and fake dollars at these shrines for the people to enjoy in their afterlife.

Once we reached Lang Co we planned on taking the tunnel through the mountain back to Da Nang, but as we pulled up to the toll booth a little boy and a police officer came running towards us shouting, “no moto, no moto”. My poor numb arse was devastated as this meant that we would have to go the long way back. Birthday boy however was over the moon pretending to be Richard Hammond and flying round the bends. Another amazing thing about the pass was getting to see the trains winding round the mountain making their way towards Hue, a journey which we will soon make ourselves and are now even more excited about doing!

I didn’t like one thing about the days adventure, and that was the pig trucks! As some vehicles, such as farm trucks and oil tanks, aren’t allowed to use the tunnel they still travel on the pass too. This meant that at least 20 trucks crammed full of about 300 pigs came flying past us at regular intervals, and they stunk worse than anything I have ever smelt in my life. Plus the sight of the pigs all squashed together has put me off bacon for a very long time!

Later on we took a drive into the city centre to see the Dragon bridge and the bright lights of Da Nang along the river. It was packed with peds, thankfully Kyle drives coz I’d be cruisng round with my eyes shut! It’s a lot busier here than Hoi An. Da Nang looks beautiful at night with all the lights reflecting off the water, its really bright and colourful. As we were driving around looking for somewhere to eat we passed a shopping centre with a Debenhams! Facing my second crisis of the trip, a broken bra, I was over the moon to see a familiar store, and ran inside to purchase some new bras…I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to purchase underwear!

Tea that evening was an Indian, birthday boys choice. A little more expensive than most meals we’ve had lately but it was a special occasion and the food was really tasty, although a little creamier than what we’re used to. It must have been good though, tight arse actually left a tip. 

This morning saw a long lie in, an omelette and ice coffee breakfast before a day at the beach. We have a new friend at the beach, she reserves us sunbeds, knows when to bring us a coconut and even gives us free watermelon. Bless the lady, she even tried to teach us Vietnamese but it didn’t go too well!

Tomorrow we catch a train to Hue, this also goes through the mountains of the Hoi Van pass so we are excited to view it from a different angle. Before then though we will have to pack again, it never seems to get any easier and my bag always looks fuller, I think I must be carrying half of Kyles stuff!


Love Carrie xxx