February 28, 2016
Feeling like we’re heading into an episode of M.A.S.H. As we start our drive toward Danang and Hoi An today. We’ll be driving past the Danang Airforce base and eating lunch (R&R) on Red Beach, near China Beach. But, on the way, some special treats. Tam, our local tour guide promised to get us permission to visit a private family pagoda (Wat in Thailand, Temple in India). Families (that can afford it) will build a complete pagoda, the only purpose to worship dead ancestors. Not just a tomb, but a full, multi-building, rambling “home”/temple. It’s not lived in by the living . Only used for private worship. We’ve seen them on our drives, but now we can go in….
From there we continued south, stopping for lunch beside the water. The weather had cleared and gotten much warmer. It was a good opportunity to get a view of the inland mountains and oyster and shrimp cultivating areas. Salt and fresh waters mix here to form the perfect environment.
As we traverse the Hai Van Pass….Including the longest tunnel in SE Asia (6 km).
As we enter Danang, past it’s famous airbase, we come across the famous dragon bridge (the head is on the other side) very near China Beach where our soldiers had their R&R. It’s named for the pottery shards found there, not anything to do with China (not too fond of China around here). In fact the South China Sea here is called the Eastern Sea.
Our first stop is the Cham Museum, sculpture by the Cham people (Polynesian) who came to an island off the coast and eventually to Vietnam itself. Their Hindu religion and sculpture was unique and appeared in many regions in Central Vietnam. It’s interesting that the Cham introduced “wet” rice cultivation to the country – an extremely important innovation that allowed Vietnam to grow socially and economically.
Then over to “Marble Mountain” where we climb 158 steps to see the Marble Buddahs and marble pagodas.
Our final stop is a silk factory near Hoi An showing the very cool process of making silk…and selling it in clothing form, custom fitted to you overnight. We almost buy, but don’t.
A recommended restaurant for dinner has an hour wait and we’re tired. So, we found a quiet little place down a back alley and had a very satisfying light meal (pho and BBQ calamari). Tomorrow a walking through the old city part of Hoi An.