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Published: April 4th 2019
Da Nang beach
From hotel window
Arrived here 28 March for a few days R'n'R for Lyn after10 straight days of meetings, fairs and agent visits including weekends and night events. She was ready for a break. We hadn't been to Da Nang so didn't know what to expect except that we knew there was a long coastline of sandy beaches and we had booked a hotel on the beach, or across the road from the beach. Sure enough, there was the beach stretching for kilometres and our hotel was right there. All the hotel staff have name tags with an English name on it - Martin, Lucy, Annette, Jonathon and so on. Our young guy at reception was Elvis but when I burst into the opening lines of "Heartbreak Hotel" on arrival he had no idea! I think he thought he was dealing with a loony. Surely not.
We had been upgraded to a bigger room with a beach-front facing view through floor to ceiling windows. It was spectacular looking out from the 16th floor across the SE Vietnam Sea into the haze. The haze became fog and for all our 5 days here we had restricted visibility out across the ocean. The temperature was
in the high 20's so the fogginess didn't stop us enjoying the beach or stop us getting out and about. The water temperature was perfect - easy to dip into but not too warm to be refreshing. If only Waikanae Beach was more like this.
To swim, one had to do so between the markers - lines of swimming pool-like lane markers extending out from shore about 50 metres apart out to 100 metres or so. The "life guards" wouldn't make the Paekakariki Surf Club's cut off. Three of them standing around smoking, talking on the phone, sitting on the seat of the life guard stand playing video games. It didn't fill us with confidence. However, the water was clear, warm and non-threatening so no real dangers lurking apart from people's stupidity. Not very stupid at all as the water behaviour from most was very timid by NZ standards.
Next door to our hotel was a construction site. On the other side was another construction site. The footpaths outside the hotel were bombsites, rubbish everywhere, construction materials sticking out into the walking space. No WorkSafe here. And that is Da Nang Beach - kilometre after kilometre of frantic
building of hotels and resorts, literally for 30 k's up and down the beautiful beach line which may not be so beautiful in a few years time. I'm told the money for this is coming from China, the USA, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan..... If the city or central government can get a hold on the escalating litter and rubbish, the infrastructure keeps pace with development and the visitor numbers don't overwhelm the facilities then it may be OK but I don't think Lyn and I will come back to this part of the coastline even though we have enjoyed our stay here
We have made day trips to Hue, the site of the old Imperial City, got ourselves in a heated discussion with a couple of cyclo-rickshaw pedallers who didn't like it when we stuck to the agreed price for our one hour jaunt and they wanted more. We had to get stroppy. That's the first time in Vietnam this trip although Lyn has had hassles with taxi drivers in the past. The trip to Hue was two and a half hours each way. We used a driver moonlighting from the hotel who acted as our guide as well. We
drove north over the Hai Van Pass, highest point over 1000 metres, but unfortunately the continuing fog destroyed any views. Then back later through a 7km long tunnel under the mountains. He also took us on a day trip to the big Lady Buddha with it's associated buddhist monasteries and to Marble
Mountain 8 kms south of Da Nang and worth a visit to see the extensive caves and places of worship in many of the caves etched out of the limestone hills. There were lots of steps and it was hard work in the heat and humidity but really interesting.
We also did a short 5 hour trip to Hoi An, a 40 minute ride from Da Nang. The crowds were many multiples of what we had experienced three years ago. It was a popular place then but nothing like it was this day. Very pretty with the yellow-washed walls and picturesque shop fronts, low buildings (no high rise in the old town), and the river gliding by flanked by dozens of small restaurants caphe shops and bars. We had a beer in a small place overlooking the river watching the boat activity with the tourists
then wandered through the streets looking for some small pieces of art we could take hiome with us and mindful of our poor navigation skills as we had to meet our transport at the same place he'd dropped us. As old town Hoi An resembles a maze we weren't too confident but a few missteps and much advice from locals got us there in the end after we'd had dinner in another small eatery on the way. I made the mistake of thinking I'd like some western food that night and ordered a hamburger. Big mistake, one I won't repeat.
We've had some great food in Da Nang at the local eateries. It's a sea food mecca and just about every eating place has their big plastic bowls of live sea food outside for you to choose from and have slaughtered for the occasion. Shellfish, fish, crabs, lobster, sea cucumber, prawns.... it went on and on. We had shrimp one night and a grouper another which was grilled and presented whole. It was delicious. And expensive. I think our neighbour Pete's, fish caught off Waikanae Beach beats it.
Lyn was able to make some appointments in Da Nang
which were a bonus for her. The meetings seemed to go very well so fingers crossed they result in students eventually.
Following our five days in Da Nang we flew down to Ho Chi Minh City for one night, met up with Ms Tam (my colleague from last year) and had a good meeting with a new agent setting up in one of the local universities. And now on to Hong Kong for two nights before heading home on Friday. Not before time as Lyn has lost her voice completely and still has a couple of meetings to go in HK. Which have gone very well.
The last one this afternoon was a beaut as the principal of the firm arranged to meet us in a bar and it turned out that he was a rabid wine connoiseur who loved talking about it as well as sampling it so he and I got on very well while Lyn also got on well with his wife who runs the company with him. We discussed the merits of Aussie versus NZ wines, in particular reds and Pinot Noir which is his favourite. They intend to come to NZ in February
and have an invitation to stay with us and do some wine tasting/touring. I'll be calling on friends to help out.
And that's it from us. On the plane tomorrow, trying to work out a few new moves in the Sky Couch. Arriving home late afternoon Saturday in Waikanae. See you all soon.
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