I was expecting to see dragons in China. I wasn’t expecting to see as many as I have in Vietnam.
Dragons can be found in fountains, adorning temples and bridging rivers here. I love it.
And, as I write this, I’m looking at Da Nang’s Dragon Bridge. Apparently, it breathes fire on Friday and Saturday nights. (Maybe that could be a toll bridge innovation… pay the fee or be flamed… I’m joking!)
I caught the bus from Hoi An this morning – approximately a 40minute ride.
It’s the first public bus I’ve caught in Vietnam.
Arriving at the bus station in Hoi An, more of a very large turning in the road that a station, I looked around for a ticket office but seeing nothing, I climbed on the Number 1 bus.
There was no driver but some passengers were already on board and I could see cash in their hands so I did likewise.
I’d heard that you have to buy a ticket for yourself and your luggage but when the conductor arrived to collect my money, she didn’t charge me for my rucksack. Well, it was on my knee, rather than taking up a seat.
The driver arrived and she got off the bus.
The vehicle pulled out of the station and the conductor closed the doors, bolting them shut, after running alongside to jump on the bus as it joined the traffic.
As the bus approached the different stops en route to Da Nang, the driver blasted the horn, announcing our approach. Each bus stop was at a cafe where passengers quickly drank their coffees and climbed on board.
Or maybe, each cafe had been opened because there was a bus stop?
The conductor actually got off the bus and dashed over to the cafes a few times to help elderly passengers to climb on board.
I also realised the bus acted as a parcel delivery service when I watched her take packages from waiting moped riders or hand them over.
There was a huge box that looked like it contained a painting in the bus’s luggage store that I had assumed belonged to one of my fellow travellers.
The bus between Hoi An and Da Nang runs every 20 minutes so its package delivery is probably a very effective service, as well as doubling up on the bus’s function.
Da Nang is the largest city in Central Vietnam but people usually head to Hue or Hoi An. I came here because I want to see the Golden Bridge of Hands up in the Ba Na Hill outside the city.
A stroll around the city’s riverside shows it’s quite a colourful place.
Why is the cathedral pink? It was originally painted red and the colour has faded over time.
Why is it also called the ‘Chicken Church’? Because there is a chicken at the top of the weather vane.
Why is there a chicken at the top of the weather vane? I don’t know. I can’t give you all of the answers for the pub quiz.
Da Nang is close to the Marble Mountains and there are various examples of the quality of the stone alongside the river.
I’d passed the mountains on the bus ride from Hoi An.
Like Ha Long Bay, there is another dragon-related great story about their creation.
A dragon emerged from the water on Non Nuoc Beach and laid an egg. A thousand days and a thousand nights followed before the egg hatched, and out stepped a beautiful girl.
The fragments of the shell were left on the beach and eventually grew into the five Marble Mountains.
It’s not clear what happened to the girl.
This evening has been spent in the company of Constance, Tony and Anna as we were guided around the Central Market by Tuyen from Da Nang Free Walking Tours.
As in Hanoi, this is another enterprise where students lead the walks. I enjoy walking tours, especially when they are led by local people.
This was the Food Story Tour and, from the market, Tuyen took us to not one but three restaurants – one of them on the roadside – to sample the dishes that are popular in Da Nang.
There was a lot of similarity with the dishes I’ve eaten across Vietnam – noodle broths, spring rolls, pancakes, etc. However there is Da Nang difference – more anchovies, more pickles, greater use of basil, and more chilli.
Eating is a great way to explore and dinner was completed with dessert – I’d describe this as a Vietnamese Knickerbocker Glory but not as sugary. The different components were beans, bean curds and coconut cream served with ice and mixed together.
It was very refreshing and, while I wouldn’t normally consider beans for dessert, it was very tasty.
A great way to end the day.