Traveling around Southeast Asia is relatively cheap, and quite easy. Taking advantage of this, my friends and I flew to Da Nang, Vietnam, last weekend.
After dropping our bags at the Airbnb, we made a beeline to the beach. I didn’t realize how much sitting at the beach would remind me of Lake Michigan. All I had to do was close my eyes and listen to the sound of the waves and I was immediately transported to Tunnel Park.
However, swimming in the South China Sea brings some experiences that won’t be found at Lake Michigan. The water was as warm as a bath and, like any ocean, the salt burned my eyes. Mountains rose up in the distance from the Ghenh Bang region to the North and from the Cham Islands to the South.
Our transportation around Da Nang, Vietnam, proved to be quite an ordeal. I thought that the Chiang Mai roads felt crowded with lots of motorbikes and cars, but I had the wrong definition of “crowded”. Swarms of motorbikes, cars, trucks, and buses crowd the streets in Vietnam, and the constant drone of honking fills the air.
Need to weave in and out of traffic in order to keep moving? Honk. Need to switch lanes? Honk. Need to be noticed? Honk. Have no reason to honk? Well, honk anyway. I rarely hear anyone using their horns here in Thailand, so the streets I used to think were noisy and dangerous now seem quiet and peaceful.
We were only in Vietnam for a few days, over the weekend. Therefore, we tried to make the most of our limited time by going to the famous hand bridge in Ba Na Hills which was a great decision.
The journey to the bridge starts by hopping into the world’s longest and highest non-stop cable car which takes you from the foot of Ba Na Mountain to the peak of Vong Nguyet Mountain. There, you mozy across a golden bridge held in the air by two massive stone hands. But we didn’t realize that the attraction doesn’t stop at the bridge. After walking off, we continued on and found beautiful temples, sculptures, fountains, and funnily enough, French-style castles and architecture.
That evening, we enjoyed the sunset by the ocean (still as warm as bathwater) then walked around a large local market called Chợ Đêm Đà Nẵng. The bustling walkways reminded me of the busy markets in Chiang Mai, although there was a much stronger seafood smell lingering in the air. We strolled over the River Hàn on the iconic Dragon Bridge and appreciated brightly lit boats floating down the river. While leaning against the boardwalk railing, we enjoyed each other’s company in the warm evening breeze.
After a few days in Vietnam, I found myself missing the culture and my daily life in Chiang Mai. Only a 2-hour flight away, Vietnam feels like a different world than Thailand.
It was a weekend to remember. Thank you, Vietnam.