Escape to the Hai Van Pass

Martin and I escaped the floods of the central Highlands and I was ecstatic to get out. I needed some sunshine ASAP. We hopped on the night bus south and ended up in the coastal city of Da Nang. Upon first glance, the city seemed exceptionally bright. There were neon lights lining the roads, the buildings, the boats, and the bridges. Furthermore, it was strikingly modern and exceptionally clean. The only downside was that Trump was elected president of the United States of America  the morning I arrived, so it was going to take a lot to shift the mood. Actually it took 1 beer, and then I was over it.

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We spent the first day exploring the city and walking the beach. The sky was blue and the sun was finally shining bright. It was a much needed respite from the constant rain and gray. As the sun began to set we headed towards the main city attraction, the Dragon Bridge. Cau Rong bridge is one of the staple sites of the city. The bridge is nearly a mile long and accommodates six lanes of traffic. A  giant serpent made from hundreds of light bulbs crawls down the middle, splitting traffic. Its glowing bulbs continuously change colors, illuminating the city skyline. On the weekends its massive jaws open wide and it spews actual fire into the darkness. Unfortunately on Thursday nights it does no such thing. It was still a site to behold and a cool tourist attraction for the city. We spent the remainder of the evening grabbing cocktails at a tall rooftop bar and a few local joints.

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The next day we rented motorbikes and decided to explore the Hai Van Pass. This 15 mile mountain pass was made famous by the show Top Gear. It’s situated on a winding coastal road that connects the city of Hue to Hoi An, with Da Nang sitting in the middle. Instead of chancing the weather and doing the full trip, we thought it’d make more sense to rent the bikes in Da Nang and drive up to the most scenic areas. This way we could also see the white Lady Buddha monument just outside the city. Luckily the the weather cooperated, and the views were spectacular. The highway winds its way up into the mountains and then hugs the cliffs closely with the ocean hundreds of feet below to the east. The roads are surprisingly well kept and the scenery is truly gorgeous. We spent a few hours winding our way along the coast before heading back to the outskirts of Da Nang. We were able to drive into the Marble Mountains to see the 200 ft statue of the Bodhisattva of Mercy, known as Lady Buddha. Perched atop a hill, the white figure looks across the Bay into the East Sea. As the tallest statue in all of Vietnam, she dominates the landscape and can be seen from just about anywhere in the city below. After snapping a few pictures, we headed back to the city to rest up.

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One of the best parts of Da Nang was the hostel we decided to stay at, Barney’s. It was one of the best I’d experienced in any country. It had big comfortable beds, clean modern bathrooms, and great vibes. Most importantly, it was How I Met Your Mother themed. All of the rooms were named after characters from the show and there were photos and memorabilia of scattered throughout. It was a fun theme and they pulled it off quite well. After a long day we got some rest and hit the bar for a few drinks. The next day we grabbed a bus headed for Hoi An, only 20 miles South…


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