Da Nang

Da Nang
Sơn Trà, Vietnam

Sơn Trà, Vietnam

Run round (the outside of) the Forbidden City, few oldies out swinging arms and exercising, and one other Westerner jogging. Crossing roads easier on the run. Statues of ibexes (?) by the river. No propositions at 7 in the morning.

Narrow gondola-style boats, empty on a river.
Misty boats on a drizzly day.

Train, long wait, mostly tourists on this one – finally tempted off the buses by the promise of beauty. Late running train caused some panic from old Englishman. All clutching their paper tickets, I seem the only one with electronic ones.

Interesting what people pick on to exemplify England. Manic depressives would be mine. Football is a popular go-to – so no more wisdom over the corruption that blights the Premier League here than at home. Last night’s students suggested London was a beautiful city, though that’s a standard go-to. And today, at the Italian/Vietnamese owned hostel Barney’s in Da Nang… One Direction. He likes their songs. Never mind culture clash, it’s age clash that hurts. Though nice to think I might in some way be able to join him in reflection upon their magnificence.

Dragon bridge, Da Nang. The dragon sculpture, in gold, rises and falls below the level of the bridge itself
Dragon bridge, Da Nang.

Afternoon – late eating, in the mall. A mall is a mall, but still, Da Nang has the feel of somewhere going up, even if in a soulless investment kind of way. Supermarket had two product placement ops, one for Haribo, with a very annoying song on repeat and a mascot, and one for Pepsi, seemingly there just to tidy up the shelves if anyone touched them. Upstairs, an ice rink. With western kids on, showing off while the Vietnamese majority skidded behind penguin props. Perhaps this is a favourite place of western youth, a skill they are more likely than the locals to have.

Da Nang, Han riverside
Da Nang, Han riverside.

Evening in the hostel, and a run. Played with the owners’ kid, Cupin, which was nice if a bit long winded. Ducking out to leave him with grandma and me on my own at the other end of the bar was a relief.

Crossing to the beach islet
Crossing to the beach islet.

Tomb tour by bike, Forbidden city on foot

Tomb tour by bike, Forbidden city on foot
Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Tu Duc lake
Tu Duc lake.

I took myself off to the Tu Duc and Khai Minh tombs, missing out on what sounded the most ornate, partly to avoid a busy bridge crossing and partly to leave time to see town in the day.

Bike ride a pleasure. I parked where I was waved in to – a minor scam by a restaurant owner, free parking but please buy a drink. I later had lunch, so was a fully fledged mark, I guess. Tombs fine, cycle great – only went slightly the wrong way, without a phone I’d have been pretty stuck.

A stone tomb with ornate carving

Forbidden planet beautiful and sprawling. Much of it reconstructed, so as ever I had my European sense of 1804? That’s not old-particularly as there didn’t seem to be much still standing from then. But still, a good tour. And I took the route less travelled by, realising why no one else took the route I had away from Tu Duc-the road became a dirt track. Still took me where I wanted to go, though. Smug.

My shopper bike, parked on a bridge over a river
Bike. Pulls right. Not much front brake.

Later I walked Walking Street, pleasant by day – once past the docks where I was offered a boat trip a couple of times – but at night it lights up, restaurants and bars, but well spaced so it isn’t a strip like other resorts have. In between are musicians and sellers, but without the hard sell. I had a beer by the river, just because. The hard sell comes on the far side of walking street, and is annoying – first, do you want moto taxi, then marijuana, finally beautiful girls. How many girls do I need? But all the annoyance was redeemed by the last man’s excitement, on learning I was from England, at the thought that I might have… a coin. You have coin?! You check?! Well no, not even in my bag, back at the hostel, and certainly not on the streets of Hue. But for a glimpse of a different perspective, perfect – here, even 1000 VND (3p) is a note.

Green lawns. Forbidden Palace.
Green lawns. Forbidden Palace.
Main entrance to the Forbidden Palace
Main entrance to the palace.
A sign saying "walking street"
Walking street.

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