I woke up this morning in bad shape. It might have been the Mắm Nêm (Fermented Anchovy Dipping Sauce) from yesterday, or it may have been the Bahn Mi that was sitting out at the airport lounge. Whatever it was, it was a rough night and would end up being a pretty tough day. Thank goodness Cat was patient and understanding having just been through it herself. Regardless, with one full day available in Da Nang we really didn’t have time to waste. So once I was feeling well enough to leave the hotel, Cat and I headed over to pickup our rental scooter. For $12.57 we were able to rent a Honda Air Blade (110cc), 2 helmets, and unlimited mileage. After we got the scooter we drove it straight up the coast to the Marble Mountains.
The Marble Mountains are 5 individual mountains made of marble and limestone. Each mountain is named after one of the elements, water, fire, wood, earth, and metal. On each, you can find caves and pagodas containing Buddhist shrines, but only one of the 5 is available for tourists.
If you’re comfortable with it, I highly recommend renting a scooter. Cat has no interest in driving here, but driving has always been a sense of freedom for me. Having a scooter here is no different. Instead of relying on Grab to pick us up, waiting for a driver, not knowing what to expect (our driver that took us to pickup the scooter smelled like alcohol that he tried to cover up with cologne), and being at the mercy of a total stranger to get you where you need to go, with the scooter we are in control. Sure, we got lost a few times since we don’t know the city. Leaving the Dragon Bridge after the 9pm show was a lot of traffic and everyone drives inches from each other. But it is still worth it to be able to go where you want, when you want, and stop if you see something worth stopping for.
For 15,000 vnd (each way as we would later find out) there is an elevator that gets you to this elevation. The Marble Mountain provides the best views of the city.
The pagodas are nice, but they’re not as big or impressive as they look, and there’s nothing inside. The caves, however, are amazing. I left the guy in the bottom right corner of the photo above so you can see how big that Buddha statue is.
The builders used the natural holes in the cave to perfectly center the Buddha giving it a very magical look.
The entrance to the cave.
The limestone and marble mountain.
If you decide to visit the Marble Mountains there are a few things you should know. First, bring water. Elevation here does not mean that it’s cooler. It was hot, humid, and…. Number two, wear comfortable shoes because you’re about to do a fair amount of pretty serious hiking. The “stairs” are uneven and steep. They are carved into the mountain. Many of them include extremely slippery marble areas. And finally, give yourself plenty of time. Even the most athletic among us is going to need a break to get through all of the sites. Cat and I didn’t make it through everything. I really wasn’t feeling very well and being in the heat was making it worse. If you want to see more of the Marble Mountains, this blog has a lot of great photos.
After going back to the hotel for a pretty lengthy nap, we headed out for the other important thing to do here in Da Nang; see the Dragon Bridge breath fire and water.
Check the link above for the best pics of the fire breathing bridge. I did my best while smashed onto a bridge with a million other tourists, but what you see above is about as good as I got. Soon after this picture the river in front of us would become littered with small, river cruise boats covered in neon and LED lights. With the light pollution of the boats, it became harder and harder to get a decent shot.
You can see the boats moving in. After fire, the Dragon shoots water. By the time the last of the fire was being shot, there would be no less than 20 small boats, all covered in lights, filling the area just in front of the bridge.
All things considered, it was a pretty good day even though I was feeling pretty sick. We didn’t eat much. In fact we ordered delivery to our hotel so that I could eat french fries (which ended up being strangely sweet and tasting a little like a funnel cake) and fried rice. Cat got chicken wings, which, if you know Cat, is one of her favorite things in the world. They were Thai chicken wings, and I think she probably would have preferred Buffalo Wild Wings, but it got the job done and the food was very safe. I think we’re both a little tired of being laid out in bed for a day from eating something questionable. That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop, it just means that for today we decided to go with something safe.