We enjoyed Hue but our schedule, such as it is, had more stops on our way south (see the play on words?) so we were off to Da Nang. Robin Williams’ quotes featured heavily as we made plans to leave. Da Nang, Da Nang, viva Da Nang…
Not having enjoyed the overnight train experience from Hanoi to Hue at all, the Princess opted for a more comfortable method of travel from Hue to Da Nang. Colleen braced herself and got her ‘game face’ on for negotiating. We went to a couple of places to see what the prices were for bus and for private car (a 7 seater for 5 people). The DMZ is a backpacker hostel and bar that is generally recommended for good deals. Not today. We checked a few other locations and then Colleen used her knowledge to work a deal with the hotel. The private transfer was $66USD and included some hot tour spots along the way. The whole day worked out to approximately $101CAD (including tip for the driver, entrance fee to Marble Mountain, and some ice cream). The private car was a great deal, especially since the driver transported us from Hue (pronounced “way”) to our hotel in Da Nang with stops at Lang Co beach, Hai Van pass, and the Marble Mountains.
Lang Co Beach
Lang Co beach is 10 kilometers long and belongs to Lang Co commune, Phu Loc District, Thua Thien Hue. The beach is located along the side of National Highway No.1A at the foot of Hai Van Mountain.
Lang Co is also known as “An Cu” by the French, or “Stork Village”, because it used to have lots of storks. The beach was virtually deserted with one other family visiting. The water was super warm and the sand squeaked as we walked on it. We’d never walked on ‘squeaky’ sand before.
Hai Van Pass
According to Wikipedia, the Hải Vân Pass or “Ocean Cloud Pass” is a 21 km long mountain pass on National Route 1A in Vietnam. It traverses a rocky point of the larger Annamite Range that juts into the South China Sea. It’s on the border of Đà Nẵng and Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, near Bạch Mã National Park. The Ocean Cloud Pass name refers to the mists that rise from the sea that greatly reduce visibility. Historically, the pass was a physical division between the kingdoms of Champa and Đại Việt
The twisting road on the pass has long been a challenge for drivers traveling between the cities of Huế and Đà Nẵng. Though since the completion of Hải Vân Tunnel, traffic flow and safety have improved.
At the top of the pass is the Defensive Tower and gate which was first built in 1826. It consisted of a working tower with cannons, a telescope for the Mandarin, and a store house for gun powder. Today, it is an empty hull with shrines dotting the hillside.
Marble Mountains – Ngũ Hành Sơn “five elements mountains”) is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngũ Hành Sơn District, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam. The five mountains are named after the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it is possible to climb to the summit of Mt. Thuy. Several Buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains, making this a famous tourist destination.
The area is also famous for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts. Direct rock extraction from the mountains was recently banned. Now, materials must be transported from quarries in Quảng Nam Province.
We visited the Water Mountain.
We spent an hour on the mountain and could easily have spent two more, there was so much to see.
We had our first accidental separation up here. Colleen got Ben an ice cream, since he was melting. Hannah, Emma and I carried on to the temple with the Fat Buddha out front (pretty sure that is his formal name). When we returned Colleen and Ben were gone. Turns out Colleen didn’t hear that we were going to the next temple so after looking around for us a bit, she and Ben headed back down the mountain. We walked down the mountain and fortunately met them at the bottom. I really did not want to walk back up again.
Viva Da Nang
We met up with our driver at a designated spot and then we were off to the hotel in Da Nang. We confirmed that he knew the location of our hotel multiple times. No problem. When I saw a sign for Hoi An I asked him if he knew where we were going in Da Nang? With a bit of chagrin and a chuckle. he turned the car around and we headed back to Da Nang. A nice guy with minimal English but at least he didn’t try to rip us off.
We made it to the hotel safely and looked out on China Beach. But that is another story.