Apart from teaching, all the foreign teachers at our school get two consecutive days off. This is just enough time to squeeze in some light traveling to different cities within Vietnam. Take the night train or bus, sleep, and spend two full days in a new city. Sleep again on the way back and work the next morning. Yes, it’s tiresome but it’s a great way to get in all the exploring you can.
This week, Raychel and I headed down to Da Nang. In the forecast, it was all rain but surprisingly, it was nice and sunny Vietnam upon arrival. Da Nang and the neighboring town, Hoi An, were absolutely amazing places to visit with lots more to do than where I’m living. So many places to explore and eat!
The 8 hour train arrived at around 9:30am and I was ready to hit the town and see what this city had to offer. After getting the motorbike, I was off to see the Marble Mountains, a recommendation from a fellow foreign teacher. And it was a great recommendation. The firs battle was getting up the 1,000 steps to the mountain. It was really one of my first experiences with a pagoda in Vietnam.
These pagodas were a bit different than the ones you’re thinking of because these were built inside the mountain. YES, inside the mountain. There were statues both outside and inside THE MOUNTAIN. It was an amazing sight to see, the statues were so ornate and I was just a little overwhelmed by the sheer size. And the fact that they were INSIDE the mountain. When thinking about it, the cave openings are too narrow for the statues to be brought in, meaning they were carved perfectly from the rock while digging out the cave. What amazing feat!
After the hike around the pagoda and a good sweat, I took a quick 30 minute ride to Hoi An. Raychel and I booked a hotel to stay for the night. Since it was so humid outside, we decided to find another place… with a pool. That’s when we discovered the haven named “The Villa of Tranquility.” It was beyond amazing and only $12 a night for two people to stay. The best was the perfect firmness and THE PILLOWS… I was tempted to steal a pillow they were so soft.
While relaxing poolside, we met a cute Australian family that told us that the Hoi An night market was a must to visit. We found a place to grab dinner and headed over to over. While walking around the market, I was stopped by a woman to take a candle lit night ride around the river. Of course, we had to! Raychel bought a little candle lantern to place in the water. As she placed it in the river, the candle immediately extinguished and it was one of the saddest sights.
The night market was stunning. It is well known for its ornate lanterns and were strung up all along the market. With the night set, the lanterns lit, and candles in the river, the city was very picturesque. There was even the smell of sweet foods and tasty dishes all around. The cheerful buzz of children playing. Elation for all the senses. I ended up with a few souvenirs from the vendors and a cute lamp for my desk.
The next day, we headed back to Da Nang for the remainder of the trip. We decided to walk around the city and go to a famous taco infusion restaurant. It was an hour and a half walk but I thought we could do it, so we returned the bike. The distance and time wasn’t too bad. It was the distance in combination with the heat, humidity, and the weight of our bags that made it a little unbearable. And when I say a little, I mean showering in sweat pools.
The worst part: when we got to the restaurant, it was no where to be found. It was permanently closed. We had walked almost 2 hours for a restaurant that was closed. The distraught. The agony. The hunger. But most disappointing, the uneaten tacos. Eventually, we landed at a Mi Cay (spicy ramen) place and ate there and relaxed at the beach before heading out to catch the sleeper bus on the way home.
More updates your way soon,