A beach resembling a rubbish dump
A somewhat quieter today, first I ride to Da Nang by bus, with a stop at Ca Loa Beach. Well, naming this place a beach is the overstatement of the year; it is one big rubbish dump on the bank of the sea. Da Nang is not a tourist city. Instead, it is an industrial center, so there are few tourists and not too many facilities catering to them. The main point of interest for visitors here are the Marble Mountains. But of course, also in this larger town many motor drivers who want to help me, if not today, then tomorrow.
Hindu statues of the Champa era
At noon, I visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture, a place crammed with ancient Hindu figures dating from the Champa Kingdom that ruled Southern Vietnam for eight centuries until 1697. It is definitely worth the effort to stop in Da Nang to explore this museum.
Finding a tour guide to visit the Marble Mountains
In the evening I eat a pizza in a small Italian restaurant. I am the only customer and start to talk with the servant. She is a teacher and now follows an additional language course. She wants to work in the tourism sector later. Her English is more than decent. After a long conversation, she asks me if she can be my tour guide at the Marble Mountains tomorrow. To me, this sounds like an acceptable alternative to the previous motor rip-offs I experienced, plus it would be a good exercise for her, so I agree.
The Marble Mountains are a cluster of five hills named after the elements
The next morning after breakfast, I hurry to the corner of the street of the Italian restaurant. Bo is already waiting for me. On her motorcycle, we ride to the Marble Mountains. It is a much-visited pilgrimage site, consisting of a cluster of five hills with temples, caves, and tunnels. The hills are named after the elements of fire, water, earth, metal, and wood.
Sculptures representing punishments for committed sins
Once there, she does her utmost best to provide the necessary explanation about the various caves and pagodas. We visit the caves on Thuy Son hill, the most important of the five hills, which symbolizes the element of water. Afterward, we also descend in HeIl’s Cave. There, marble stone sculptures represent the punishments according to the sin that has been committed. A bit kitschy, but also fascinating to see. Access to heaven is also displayed. All in all, these Marble Mountains are also worth a visit to Da Nang.
Browsing for souvenirs at the marble-shop
Back at the parking stall of Bo’s moped I feel obliged to navigate around in the marble-shop. The saleswomen want me to buy something, even if it’s just a small thing. I look around, but there is nothing that fascinates me enough to buy. I already have so many souvenirs.
A tour guide not accepting a fee
It is slightly raining when we drive back to the city. When I arrive at the hotel, I want to give Bo a small fee. But she refuses and rides away, a strange ending of a pleasant meeting. I do not even have her email address, while I told her to email some photos of this trip. In addition to that this is the very first time that I do not have to give money for a guided tour.
Finally losing stress
In the evening I end up having dinner in a spot again with hardly any people. After a while, a group of American residents enters. A lot of tough talks, but little substance. However, my end balance about Da Nang is positive. It is a relatively quiet city, where people leave you alone, apart from the occasional motor drivers. I notice to myself that I start to slow down with the fuzz. I even walk through the streets with a smile. Am I finally de-stressing? We will see what Hoi An will bring.