05 Jul Da Nang part 2
We definitely lucked out by staying at the little guesthouse by the beach. The ocean view from our window is fantastic and instead of listening to the customary concert of honking scooters and buses we can hear the ocean’s waves crashing on shore and children playing and laughing from the small street in front of the place. Most of the owner’s family-life takes place in the open entrance hall of the guesthouse. That’s where delicious smelling meals are prepared, tables and chairs get moved around for family dinners, and the baby either sleeps in the carefully placed hammock or gets carried around by mom or dad.
Nobody speaks English except for the oldest daughter who is hardly ever present, but that does not stop anybody from being helpful and laughing with us all the time.
We are more than welcome to do our own laundry in their private washing machine up on the roof. In the evening, when we decide to walk to a restaurant that is located two miles down the road we are offered a ride on their scooters. For some reason they find it weird and funny that we want to walk in the rain. Although we have our rain jackets on, they insist that we at least borrow a few ponchos. They pull 2 ponchos out and hand them to us, while they keep looking for a third one and apologize profusely that they can’t find another one. We are very thankful for what we have and assure everybody, that we will be fine. Yet, as we are walking down the road a half mile, the owner comes by on his scooter. He laughs and looks so happy to have found us as he hands us one more poncho: it is brand new and still in its packaging.
The kindness of people is unbelievable.
The following day, we decide to take a ride to the Son Tra peninsula and the Linh Ung Pagoda, where the highest statue in Vietnam of Mother Goddess is located. It feels great to ride the bikes without all of our heavy gear. Along the way, we stop to watch a newly-wed couple having pictures taken by the beach. Apparently, wedding pictures are a big deal and it is of utmost importance to have the bride contorted into the most uncomfortable poses. Not sure how anybody could muster a big smile or look natural, with the neck wrenched into all kinds of directions?! It makes for good entertainment on the beach though.
As we cycle up the mountain, we get a few thumbs up from the locals. The top part to the Pagoda is quite steep and has a couple of short switchbacks. As we pass some workers and tourists, a few of them look quite impressed by our cycling abilities and others cheer us on and give us more thumbs up. We wonder how impressed they would have been if we were to ride our fully loaded bikes up here.
Once on top, we enjoy the wonderful view over the bay and over Da Nang. We check out the huge Buddha statue and the temple. There are countless other statues placed all over the hill and even more tediously cultivated bonsai trees.
There are also rows and rows of empty park benches everywhere. We sit on one of the benches and enjoy the scenery and people-watch in peace and quiet. Although, there are a few tourist buses with mostly Asian tourists visiting, it is a very relaxing place.
Eventually, it starts to rain again and we start heading down the mountain and into another part of Da Nang, where narrow alleyways, traditional markets, small shops, and street vendors rule. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat.
In the evening, the guesthouse owners get another good laugh, while trying to figure out our charades. We really would like to call a taxi cab to take us to the dragon bridge. We charade driving a car and spewing fire. After all, it is Saturday night and the famous dragon on the bridge is going to spit fire and water after it is getting dark.
Once they figure out what we want, they are quick to call a cab and write down about how much the ride should cost, so we won’t get ripped off. Luckily, we do not have to worry about that part, because the cabdriver turns on the meter as soon as we take off and at the end he rounds the total down.
Since we are early for the dragon show, we decide to take a walk over the bridge to look around. The bridge is quite something: not only are the pillars made to look like a giant Serpent. There are also hundreds of color changing lights illuminating the structure. So the dragon is once yellow, then red or blue, or green and any shade in between.
While we walk across the Dragon Bridge, we also get a fantastic view of the other 2 bridges and the ferris wheel by the Han River–they too are flashing in all kinds of changing colored lights.
Eventually, it is time for the big show to start. People are already gathering all along the bridge where the dragon head is going to spew fire. Police is blocking traffic on the bridge. Little tables and chairs pop up everywhere, vendors appear out of nowhere to sell snacks, meatballs, bread, and drinks, young and old are waiting excitedly for something to happen. There seems to be a big crowed of tourists, yet we are a little surprised to find that we are pretty much the only westerners present for the spectacle. The bridge, “long a symbol of Asian prosperity, the dragon is an ideal image for a city on the rise, and has been taken to heart by the people who live here.”
We stand at the bottom of the bridge, when all of a sudden a big fireball appears from the dragon’s mouth. It is big enough that we can feel the heat from where we are standing. It spews fire a few more times and each time it is accompanied by ooohs and aahhs. We watch children cheering and people smiling. This bridge really seems to bring hope into people’s lives. Soon after the fireball, we can hear something like a big hiss–water is spewing out of the dragon’s mouth. Luckily, we are standing at the bottom of the bridge. Would we have stayed on top of the bridge, near the mouth, we’d probably be soaked by now.
Soon the show is over and everybody goes happily their own way. As quickly as the tables and chairs appeared, they disappeared again and the area looks like nothing ever happened.
Like many other visitors, we decide to cross the bridge again, find a small place to eat sticky rice and slurp on a Jack-fruit smoothy, before hailing down a ride back to the guesthouse.
What a great night!