15 Jun Da Nang part 1
It is impossible to get any sleep on the overnight train. So it goes without saying, that we are pretty beat and tired when we arrive in Da Nang early in the morning.
After picking up our bikes at the cargo hold, we strap all of our belongings back onto our steely steeds while it is starting to rain. As we are leaving the trainstation parking lot a cab driver asks us where we are headed to. Since we actually have no clue on how big the town actually is or where we could find somewhere to stay the night, we welcome his advice of where to find a back packer hostel somewhat close by. We quickly pedal through the rain to find it.
Two other Western cyclist are just checking out as we arrive at the hostel and tell us how great and cheap the place is. Excited, we head up the stairs to check in, although it is not even officially breakfast time yet. Luckily, we are able to check in early, unfortunately, it is not as ‘cheap’ as we thought it was going to be. One bed in a four-bed dorm room and a shared bathroom in the hallway cost about as much as we usually pay for all three of us in a room with two big beds, a private bathroom, and A/C.
We often wonder, why Westerners seem to think that hostels, especially backpacker hostels would be such a bargain. We find the local Guesthouses to be a much better deal. Also the Guesthouses are in general small local family businesses, where as a lot of hostels we have encountered in the past are actually owned by Europeans or Australians, who charge more and hardly pay their local employees anything. Maybe most tourists just feel more comfortable around other tourists and like it if they can easily speak to anybody in English, or they just like the way “hostel” sounds.
Usually, we would have left and found some other place to stay, but at this time, we are just plain beat and tired and decide to get the tiny room with a big bunk bed and an adjacent bathroom for the three of us. The young man at the desk even throws in a gratis breakfast for us, so we do not feel too bad about our choice.
After lugging all of our gear up the narrow, steep stairs to the fifth floor and eating breakfast, we crawl into our beds and nap till the afternoon.
When we wake up it is still drizzling and it is much cooler than it was down South.
We grab our rain jackets and head out to find something to eat. As we wander the streets, we encounter an older Vietnamese gentleman who asks us where we are from.
His English is very good and very American. We come to find out, he used to work on a US base during the war. He tells us a few interesting stories and how much he misses having the Americans around, then he shakes our hands wishes us good luck on our travels and goes his way.
We on the other hand find another place that offers delicious noodle soup and Vietnamese coffee and watch the raindrops falling while we chill out at a small cafe.
Eventually, we put our rain jackets back on and wander through town. As we walk by a few other hotels, we stop and ask what they charge and decide, we’d move first thing in the morning.
Back in the room, we read about the so called Dragon Bridge, the beach, and some other local things to see. We also find out that there are many more Guesthouses along the beach, so that is where we are heading to in the morning.
The following day, we cross one of the modern looking bridges over the river to head out to the beach area, and realize that Da Nang is much bigger than we had thought. On the other side is a whole other part of town which seems to be a city within itself. There are hundreds of Guesthouses and hotels along the wide area near the beach and even more being built. Strangely, they all seem empty. A couple blocks away from the beach are many more residential areas, small shops, and markets…and it is very quiet.
We find a small family run guesthouse near the beach and call it home for a couple of nights.