A few months back, we had a lovely family vacation, leaving the tropical heat and humidity of Singapore for the cloudy, drizzly and cool (to us anyway) environs of central Vietnam – Da Nang, to be precise, right in the middle of the country (and, as it happens, the place where U.S. Marines first landed way back at the start of what the Vietnamese call the American War). We didn’t get much sun, but we had a great time. And here, better late than never, a bunch of pictures and videos. Here we are at Changi Airport, checking out our plane and Nyan checking out one of the giant climbing things they have to keep kids entertained.
Nyan on the flight: The security lines at Saigon Airport. For travelers coming from Changi Airport – truly one of the best, and definitely one of the most efficient airports in the world – returning to the reality of a very average airport was a shocker! But we made it to Da Nang.
We stayed at the Pullman Da Nang resort. It was just lovely. Highly recommended. We were there a few days before Christmas, so it was relatively empty at first, which gave us pretty much the run of the house.
As mentioned, the weather wasn’t all that great. But we live in the tropics, so it was actually a nice change of pace to have to wear jackets and socks and pants! The hotel was right on the beach, and while there was no swimming due to high surf and no sunning due to no sun, it was still gorgeous, and we managed to hang out and relax a good deal. Also, there was construction on part of the hotel, which means construction equipment, which of course is all a three-year-old boy needs to be happy.
We went into the town center a few times, mostly for dinner, a couple miles away. It’s along a river, and it has some creative bridges, nice restaurants, and of course, like most Asian cities, motorbikes everywhere.
Speaking of bridges, one of them is called the Dragon Bridge. From afar, it does indeed look like the curving spine of a mythical beast.
And what’s a dragon that doesn’t breathe fire? That’s right – at the far end of this bridge is a huge dragon’s head. And every Saturday night, it breathes fire. No really. Big balls of fire and smoke shoot out of the end of the bridge. It’s quite a scene and draws a huge crowd. And at the end, it sprays a bunch of water, which caught a lot of people unawares. We managed to stay dry, however.
It’s understandably a well-known landmark around Da Nang, and the main restaurants in our hotel even built a scale model of the bridge out of gingerbread. And yes, it breathed fire too – much to the delight of our boy. The Da Nang area is geological home to lots and lots of natural marble, so there are some marble carving places scattered throughout. Some of the carvings and statues are beautiful. Some are just kinda weird.
Nearby are the Marble Mountains — big hills, really, pocked with caves and trails, and home to countless Buddhist shrines and marble statues of all shapes and sizes. Also great views of the nearby countryside and the South China Sea. (Note in one of them, we trekked to the top of the mountain, and the group of Chinese tourists who were up there decided Nyan was just so adorable that they had to pick him up and take pictures with him. Happens all the time, actually.)
We also took a day trip to the nearby town of Hoi An, an ancient seaport that’s been well-preserved as a UNESCO heritage site. It was a bit of a dreary day with spells of heavy rain, but we still managed to wander through the local markets, check out the old streets, buy a few souvenirs, and stumble upon a charming restaurant serving delicious local food.
All in all, a really great trip. We’ll leave you with some random pictures of Nyan being Nyan in Vietnam, plus a video of Nyan singing a silly song. And finally, Nyan on the flight home – exhausted and happy.