We left Hoi An this morning and drove along the coast of the South China Sea, en route to Danang, central Vietnam’s major port city. We stopped at Marble Mountains, five hills of marble representing the five elements of the universe: water, wood, fire, metal and earth. We climbed Thuy Son or water mountain. Probably one of the more harder climbs I have done. Though it was not very high the steps had been hewn out of marble and it was extremely rough and steep. But a panorama of gorgeous color in pink, green and white. At the top we were fortunate to witness a Buddhist mass and incredible limestone caves where water dripping into an urn is supposed to guarantee fertility. Naturally I did not go anywhere near it.
At this point I have ceased to be amazed at the unfolding panoply of Buddha statues, each more beautiful than the last and marble mountain had its share of them.
We then stopped at the infamous China Beach, the R&R stop for American soldiers during the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese have renamed it ‘My Khe’ beach or beautiful stream. Ongoing issues with China etc etc.
In Danang we crossed the fiery Dragon bridge, an amazing sight of a roaring dragon shaped overpass. The Champa museum displayed the Hindu kingdom of the Chams which flourished from the 2nd to the 15th centuries. The Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva and Ram were a change from the Buddha proliferation everywhere else.
Crossing over into Hue, we went over the Hai Van or Sea Cloud pass. Lunch overlooking the South China Sea was a tranquil interlude. The soupy dessert of lotus seeds was more interesting than tasty.
In Hue we visited the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the most famous in Vietnam and a symbol of Buddhism and nationalism in the 1960s against an oppressive regime. We then took a dragon boat to the hotel.
Adios till next time!!