Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Holiday - Tuesday: Da Nang

After yesterday at Sea, we all set for our visit to Da Nang today. It was another early start and we’d had breakfast and were leaving the Ship at 8.15.
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After a brief spell at Vietnamese Customs (three men crammed into a small makeshift construction), we headed for the bus pick-up point just around the corner.

The Ship had advised us that it would be around 23 degrees today, but it already felt like 40 - and that was at 8.30am! We jumped onto the bus and twenty minutes later, we were in the tourist drop-off point in downtown Da Nang. We weren’t sure what to expect here as we’ve never been here before. We were encouraged by various documentation talking about Da Nang being the Saigon of the North.

First impressions suggested they must have been talking about a different Saigon! the place looked very under-developed and there were certainly no tall skyscraper hotels nor big commercial properties. The architecture was nowhere near as beautiful either.
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So, armed with the various maps we’d been supplied with, we ventured deeper into the area, hoping to eventually uncover the similarities. Just like Saigon, the transport of choice is the humble moped where they outnumber the cars 20-1. And just like Saigon, the technique for getting across the road is NOT to rely on pedestrian crossings nor the colour of the traffic-lights - just take multiple strides in batches and the mopeds will avoid you - providing you avoid them! It’s an unfamiliar strategy to us Brits, but works perfectly here.
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Eventually, we came across what the map suggested was a Museum (perfect!). On entering though, it seemed to only have a ground floor and only consisted of a small photographic exhibition. We asked the two young locals who were managing the place and they confirmed that it WAS the Museum - we weren’t so sure, and after filling in the customer questionnaire, we left.
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Culturally speaking, unfortunately things didn’t get much more interesting, as there was nothing that really stood out. We did a little bit more exploring around the streets, but the pavements varied in quality and quantity so much, we found ourselves feeling safer walking in the road - and that wasn’t a great place to take photos from.
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Strangely, there didn’t seem to be many places to stop for a drink, so we continued to follow the map and navigate back to where the bus had dropped us off. After a bit of disorientation, we finally arrived, where there was a bus waiting - and the air conditioning running - perfect.

I’m sure this place is quite charming, but we didn’t discover that part. Once again, the heat got the better of us and I’m slightly ashamed to say that we were glad to get back on board the Ship for a cuppa!

In all our travelling, Da Nang goes into the category: ‘Been there, done it, wouldn’t go back’

Halong Bay
is next on the itinerary tomorrow - hope it’s more interesting!