Although I had enjoyed my time in Hoi An I was feeling a bit burnt out and ready for a change of pace, just not sure where to find it. Not wanting to throw myself onto an overnight train I decided that I'd spend one night in Da Nang and see what the city had to offer. If nothing else I could tell my grandpa I paid a visit to his old temporary home from when he served time as a Marine in the Vietnam war. Annoyance couldn't be avoided when my motorbike driver dropped me at the train station after asking another (local) driver where my hostel was. As I got off the bike and paid this other driver insisted my hostel was very near but then tried getting me on the back of his bike. Nice trick jerk, but no thanks, I'll walk. Thankfully the hostel was near but I was still dripping in sweat by the time I arrived, afternoon sun and humidity in Vietnam is a recipe for disaster.
There aren't many hostel options in Da Nang and after my last fiasco I was hesitant on picking the popular place but as soon as I walked in the door I knew I had made the right decision. The interior was clean, cooling and welcoming as were the staff and other guests. Just past the reception area there is a large common room with a computer, TV and gaming system, which is where everyone seemed to be congregating for the day. I dropped my bag in the dorm room (also clean, and neatly decorated) and joined the others in the TV room. I was quickly introduced to everyone, Christian, Andrew, Burnsy and a few others whose names must have slipped my mind and settled in for some relaxation. Eventually we decided food wa a good idea and ventured down the street to what was supposed to be some great street food. The place the boys were wanting to take me was closed so we went to the neighboring shop, big mistake. Basically we wound up eating Loterria ice cream for lunch, which if you know me is perfect in my book.
Andrew somehow fell into my travel plans, venturing north to Ninh Bin and then onwards to Hanoi so we made a stop at the train station to buy tickets for our overnight train the following day. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching movies and hanging out in the common room until, eventually, we decided it was time to eat again. By the time plans were made we had almost the entire hostel gathered for dinner and decided a traditional BBQ dinner sounded like a good idea. The walk was longer than expected but they were surprisingly able to accommodate our large group so it wasn't long before the beers were flowing and meat was grilling. Having come from Korea where BBQ is king I knew this wouldn't blow me away but it also didn't disappoint. After dinner we gathered for a few more drinks at what appeared to be the foreign bar, played a few games of pool before eventually calling it a night and returning to our hostel.
I didn't have any must see items on my list of things to do in Da Nang but when Christian asked if I'd like to join him on a ride out to Marble Mountain I couldn't pass it up. The mountain is home to three caves which are some of the few attractions Da Nang has to offer. Our friends at the hostel told us it'd be wise to be inside the 'big cave' around 12 but wouldn't explain why, although we had our guesses...and we were right:
If it hadn't been for Christian and his bike, I probably wouldn't have ventured very far from the hostel that day so I'm thankful to him for giving me a bit of a push and shove. When we got back he was joining another friend for lunch which left me to my own vices, along with Andrew and another girl, all of whom couldn't quite put our finger on what we wanted to eat. Eventually Andrew and I walked across town (in the blistering sun) to try out a vegetarian place (disappointing) and wandered the town before returning to pack up, shower and make our way to the train station for another fun overnight trip, this time by train, destination Ninh Bin!
I was warned that I'd either love it or hate it. For some Vietnam is a food and adventure paradise while others just can't seem to find their grove. With a turbulent history and remains of division between north and south, it's an interesting place to say the least.