This morning we woke in another port in Vietnam – Da Nang. Once again we were up and ready to go at an early hour, had a terrific breakfast at Windows Café and disembarked by 8:15am.
We met our guide just outside our ship and while he led us to the van we discussed changing around our planned itinerary for the day due to the unsettled weather. We headed towards the Linh Ung Pagoda but that would be as far as we would go up the mountain as the Son Tra Peninsula was unfortunately heavily covered with rain clouds. On the way, we passed The Man Thai Fishing Village. It was amazing to see this floating village with so many boats lining the shore and the city skyline as a backdrop. Quite a sight!
As we made our way up the mountain, we caught glimpses of the Lady Buddha also known as the Goddess of Mercy. This is the tallest statue in Vietnam at a height of 67 metres. It is believed that the Lady Buddha watches over the fisherman and provides them strength during storms and difficult weather on the sea.
The statue sits within a large courtyard that has incredibly detailed sculptures, bonsai trees, a pagoda and arched gate. This was a truly magical place where we would have loved to spend more time but unfortunately the weather was not quite cooperating.
After doing a quick walk around the gardens, we waited under the Lady Buddha pedestal while the rain came down in buckets. Eventually we decided to make a dash for it. Luckily our guide had our driver bring us some very fashionable pink polka dot raincoats in an attempt to keep us partially dry on the way back to the van.
We piled back into the van and started towards our next destination – Marble Mountain. On the way, we passed the Non Nuoc Beach that was nicknamed China Beach by the American soldiers stationed in Da Nang during the Vietnam War. This was a long stretch of beautiful white sand stretching for some 30kms that now has dozens of large hotels and condo developments sprouting up all along the stunning coastline. In the midst of this development sits the abandoned military base that stored munitions during wartime. It is very interesting to see the development happening alongside areas that have been virtually untouched in 40 years.
Once we arrived at Marble Mountain, we made a stop at a reputable marble shop. The differing shapes, styles and sizes of statues was overwhelming. The master craftsmen make virtually everything out of the marble from the area and of course there were different colours and densities of this beautiful stone. We chose to purchase a small Lady Buddha marble statue that is a pale jade green colour and is a considerable weight given she is relatively small in size. She now sits in our living room watching over us each day.
We proceeded to the area of Marble Mountain. Our guide suggested that we take the elevator to the top for $1.50 USD. This seemed like a good idea given there were 150 steps up to the top and the uneven, natural stone staircase looked slick and treacherous from the rain.
At the top, we were awed by the incredible scenery. A wonderland of ornate pagodas, temples, meditation gardens, statues and both Hindu and Buddhist alters were built at the top of this mountain. The architecture was stunning and the colours and intricate details a treat to admire. We thoroughly enjoyed walking around this area finding beautiful treasures around every corner. Our guide brought us through a series of grottos that housed more wonders - shrines, intimate caves and huge grand halls that were fascinating to explore. A truly spectacular place.
Afterwards, we decided to descend via the staircase carefully picking our way down the 150 steep, wet steps. We paused at various stages on the way down to take in the marvelous vistas of the surrounding town, beach and several other marble peaks that have been mined over the years.
Our next destination was the ancient city of Hoi An. The drive took approximately 30 minutes and the scenery was comprised mainly of rice patties dotted with grazing Buffalo.
Upon our arrival in Hoi An we stopped at a silk factory where local artisans demonstrated how silk is made on the traditional looms. There were various items all made from silk for purchase and incredible pictures that were embroidered in silk. The last section of the store was filled with beautiful lanterns that were hand made.
We proceeded to the Ancient City of Hoi An that has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is considered to be an excellent example of a well-preserved trading port dating from the 15th to 19th century that reflects the many different cultures and nationalities that have occupied this area. Since it was getting later in the afternoon, we started to make our way to the restaurant where our guide had a reservation for us. Unfortunately, he entire middle section of the Ancient City was flooded from the rain storm, making the restaurant inaccessible. Local residents had arrived to transport pedestrians in their narrow, open fishing boats through the water across the flooded area however the police would not allow tourists to ride in their boats due to safety reasons.
Our guide acted quickly and found a different restaurant for us to experience authentic Vietnamese food. We enjoyed a very nice lunch at Hai Café dining on multiple courses including spring rolls, shrimp dumplings, pancake inside rice roll, beef skewers, eggplant in a clay pot and tropical fruit for dessert. While we had to move to an inside spot in the middle of the meal, when it started pouring rain, it was still a very relaxing and enjoyable meal.
When the rain had slowed, our guide led us through the town taking us into preserved ancient buildings that included a traditional Japanese courtyard and a typical Chinese house. We also visited a ceramics museum, a Cantonese assembly hall and an Elementary school that is currently used for night school.
We also visited a Japanese bridge that is a landmark in the city dating back to the 18th century. It is a wooden covered bridge that has elaborate carvings and alters but it also provides a covered pedestrian passageway.
The last stop in Hoi An was the local market that also had a large prepared food stand area. As we made our way through the market, we found that much of it had been closed due to the flooding. The produce sections were under a tremendous amount of water forcing the vendors to close and pack up their stands to salvage their food items for sale.
The rain and water didn’t stop many vendors in the streets from displaying their items or walking alongside you to provide samples to entice you to purchase. The sights, sounds and smells in this small town were quite the combination. Bright colours everywhere made for a unique, charming city.
Our driver efficiently navigated out of the town as we drove back to the port, boarding the ship after a long day. We were all in need of a shower after the damp day so we planned to meet for dinner in the dining room.
The ship began its departure from port as we were changing for dinner and, because of the rough seas, I could feel the ship moving considerably. We went to the dining room where we enjoyed appetizers, however as the meal progressed, I started to feel nauseous from the waves. I wasn’t able to stay for my anticipated veal dish and unfortunately cannot comment on what everyone else had for dinner as I wasn’t there. After receiving some motion sickness pills from the front desk, I retired to the cabin for the rest of the evening.
The rest of the folks enjoyed a musical theatre show written and performed by the cruise director Eric DeGray who is a very talented singer, dancer and composer who hails from Toronto! He performed a tribute to the music of Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Denis commented that his rendition of “Phantom of the Opera” was well done.
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 3 & Onboard Azamara Day 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 3 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 4 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 6 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 7 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 8 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 9 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 10 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 11 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.