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Da Nang

09

May
2014

No Comments

In Travel
Vietnam

By kanannie

Can I Borrow $12,000 USD To Buy A Marble Buddha Statue?

On 09, May 2014 | No Comments | In Travel, Vietnam | By kanannie

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This is my next Halloween costume.

We’re not big fans of tourist attractions in most cities. They’re usually really crowded, overpriced, and just downright tacky sometimes. Da Nang was no different, but sometimes you just have to see/do certain things when you’re visiting a particular spot. I mean, these spots do become popular for a reason. They might not be as awesome as TripAdvisor would have you believe, but some are entertaining enough. I still think eating is the best thing you can do in Da Nang, but here are a few other worthwhile things we did there.

Marble Mountain

View of one of the Marble Mountain hills

Marble Mountains: These aren’t really mountains; they’re more like hills. The cluster of five hills is made up of marble and limestone and is a short ride by motorbike or taxi from Da Nang city center. You can explore the small caves, climb up one of the mountains, and then buy a giant marble statue of your favorite Buddha for a pittance! I read that they recently banned direct extraction from these mountains now that they’ve realized how quickly they are losing their valuable natural resources. These mountains and caves are fun to visit if you have no chance to see the bigger caves in Vietnam. The cost of admission is pretty low so it’s a good attraction for budget travelers too. There’s also an elevator to the top of one of the mountains for an extra cost. Who builds an elevator in a mountain? The Vietnamese do! We didn’t take it and you probably don’t need to either. It’s really not that bad of a climb. You can also see the product of these marble mountains if you walk along Bach Dang Street where they have oddly placed marble statues all along the street.

marble statues

The taxi drivers like to stop at the marble shop on the way to the mountains just in case you want to buy a giant Buddha statue

marble lion statues

If you don’t want a white Buddha, you can buy a pink or yellow marble lion instead.

Picnic in cave

Vietnamese people having a picnic in the cave.

cave light

The mother ship coming for boo.

fluorescent lights in cave

The Vietnamese like fluorescent lights in caves.

devil cave

Apparently the devil lives in a cave in Da Nang.

hell cave

There’s one part of the cave called Hell’s Gate and these are examples of what will happen to you in Hell.

hell cave statue

I don’t know what they’re about to do to this guy, but it doesn’t look good.

marbe mountain temple entrance

Temple entrance on one of the mountains

pagoda at marble mountain

Pagoda on the mountain

temple with fat buddha

Temple with fat Buddha on the mountain

random marble statues

When your city has an abundance of marble you can carve random shit and put it all over town.

buddha and dragon

See how happy fat Buddha is? He’s smiling even when two scary dragons are about to devour him.


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Da Nang: Our Own Private Playground in Vietnam

On 08, May 2014 | No Comments | In Activities, Culture, Food, Travel, Vietnam | By kanannie

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This is me, in my mother’s eyes.

At a non-descript cafe on the side of a non-descript street in Da Nang, I sipped a cà phê sữa đá and thought of a recent conversation I had with my mother before leaving for Southeast Asia. I was having a coffee then as well, and I had mentioned that caffeine tends to keep me up at night if I have it too late in the day. My mother made an incredulous face and said, “That’s because you don’t work hard enough. If you work hard like your father and I do, you can fall asleep right away.” To me, that was a strange thing to say because my mother doesn’t work (and has never really worked), unless you call unnecessary clothes shopping a form of employment.*

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A chocolate-y Vietnamese coffee with complimentary ice tea at one of a billion cafes.

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This man knows how to chill in Da Nang.

So there we were in Da Nang, proving her point. We were getting tired of constantly bouncing from one place to another and the Southeast Asian heat followed us around, quietly beating us into submission. A friend in Saigon suggested Da Nang as a quiet place to hang our hats for a while so we trusted her. The city itself doesn’t look like anything special, and is as unassuming as they come. But look a little closer, and there is an empty, beautiful beach lining its eastern coast, a lush peninsula to the north and some damn good food.

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The new government building, the Corncob (it’s not really called that).

We did the required touristy stuff like checking out the Bodhisattva of Mercy on Son Tra peninsula (we called her “The Lady”) and spending the day exploring the Marble Mountains. While both of these places were pretty interesting in their own ways, what we enjoyed doing the most was chilling by ourselves during the day and getting the more local experience with our new friends at night.

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We noticed that all government buildings are built in the European style.

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Checking out the market, where all of the vendor ladies speculated as to if we were boys or girls.

Beaching was very much on our list of priorities so we made a beeline for a private beach on My Khe. Well, not really a beeline, because we skirted around the main entrance to the hotel and entered through the side entrance to the beach like a couple of sketchy mofos… I guess we kind of are. Don’t get me started on privatizing beaches in these developing countries. We had lunch at an overpriced but decent restaurant next to the beach, soaked up the cleanliness of it all and pretended for a moment that we were guests of this overpriced resort.

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Crashing the tranquility of the Vinapearl.

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07

May
2014

2 Comments

In Travel
Vietnam

By kanannie

Delicious Da Nang: What To Eat in Central Vietnam

On 07, May 2014 | 2 Comments | In Travel, Vietnam | By kanannie

iced coffee and iced tea

Vietnamese iced coffee in Da Nang comes in a short glass unlike in Saigon. It also comes with a refreshing glass of iced tea.

Da Nang has been one of my favorite places for food in Vietnam. The food is varied with more complex flavors and less fish-sauce-based than Southern Vietnamese cuisine. Da Nang wasn’t in our original plans as we were researching a beach town in Vietnam, but we met a Couch Surfer in Saigon who suggested that we go to Da Nang instead of Nha Trang or Mui Ne. We’re so glad she pointed us to this city because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s eating. The second thing we’re pretty damn good at is lazily lounging on a tropical beach all day. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

Seafood: Da Nang is a beach town which means you can get ridiculously fresh seafood and since it’s Vietnam you can get the ridiculously fresh seafood at ridiculously cheap prices. Seafood restaurants line the street across from beach and they are packed every night. These are your typical no-frills Vietnamese eateries with little plastic chairs and stainless steel tables, but the simply-prepared seafood is better than anything you’d pay 10x more for anywhere else. There are also large, well-lit, banquet-sized restaurants that serve seafood dishes for a higher price tag, but we didn’t try those places.

Seafood restaurant

A typical Vietnamese local restaurant serving some of the tastiest seafood we’ve had.

Beer boiled peanuts quail eggs

A proper seafood dinner isn’t complete without beer, boiled peanuts and hard-boiled quail eggs.

grilled mussels with peanuts and sauce

Grilled mussels with a tasty sauce and peanuts

steamed clams

Steamed clams with Thai basil. Not your ordinary clams. YUMMY!

Baby squid sauteed in fish sauce

Baby squid fried in fish sauce. Unlike American style squid, these are fully intact. I dream of these babies.

Prawns in sweet and tangy sauce

Prawn and scallion in a sweet and tangy sauce

seafood trash

When you eat at these outdoor places you’re expected to discard your waste on the ground. They clean it up after you leave.

grilling prawns

Grilling spicy prawns at our table.

fried battered fish

Fried battered fish

crab in sauce

Crab in a tangy brown sauce. The crab was yummy but I could do without the sauce next time.

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