Sunday, July 31, 2011

Danang

China Beach
When I arrived in the city of Danang, it was raining like crazy and I was confined to the small, shaded and random sidewalk (in front of a pharmacy) the bus dropped me off at. So I sat down on the ground and watched the local kids play football right in the middle of the road and the rain. I now wish I had thought of taking a picture.. Anyway, one can't sit on sidewalks forever. 
The only other people who had got off the bus with me was a local family who left in a taxi.
I tried asking at the pharmacy where I was, but the pharmacist didn't know a single word of English. I have no idea how to sign language "address". This was one instance when my Lonely Planet became damn useful - there was the Vietnamese sentence for "what is this address?" in it. The LP map of course was as useless as ever, the road wasn't even marked on the map! 

Once I got my bearings, it was time to go find Nha, a couchsurfer who contacted me the day before. Couchsurfing influenced my trip a lot, especially in Danang. I had a fabulous time here and was extremely reluctant to leave and I don't know if I would be saying the same thing if I didn't meet all those amazing people I met through couchsurfing. Nha, her sister and her friend decided to take me on a tour - my favourite kind of tour, a street food tour!

jackfruit mix with crispy rice paper
What is known as "street-food" to me is known as "junk-food" to the people who live here. Sounds unhealthy, but like most Vietnamese food, it isn't! The picture above is some jackfruit mix thing which was very tasty!. Then we walked around trying a few other food items as well. I can't remember the names of the dishes, but I do remember that they were good. In fact, I completely forgot to take pictures since I was so busy digging in.

Hotels in Danang aren't very cheap. Since it is not a prominent hotspot on the backpacker trail, there aren't any cheap guesthouses as well. Once again, I was thankful for couchsurfing since a fellow couchsurfer so kindly offered me her room to sleep in. It is amazing the trust she put in a total stranger like me, giving me her house keys and her room. And no, I didn't wake up in a ice filled bathtub with my kidneys missing. Such hospitality felt both surprising and heartwarming at the same time. That was my first experience of actually surfing someone's 'couch'.

My Khe Beach/ China Beach
The next morning, I drag myself out of the comfy bed and decide to go to the beach. I actually had to walk a bit before finding a 'moto' driver to take me there. Of course, he spoke no english and my pronunciation of "My Khe Beach" was entirely wrong. It was sign language time! First I tried making wave-like movements with my hands. Then I tried saying "beach" in 5 different ways while gesturing wildly. Then I made swimming motions in the air. Of course he had no idea where the idiotic foreign girl in front of him wanted to go. Then my brain started to work and I realized I have the phrase for "beach" in my guidebook. Success!

Gotta love these dustbins!
There seems to be different parts to this beach. I thought it was absolutely beautiful where I was, miles and miles of sand stretching endlessly ahead of me. It wasn't deserted, but it wasn't crowded either. Someone I spoke to in Hanoi said he found the beach to be awful, and that most of it was gated off for private resorts and that you couldn't walk through those parts. He also mentioned lots of high rise hotels and I saw none of these. If you take public transport to get to My Khe beach, like me, it would probably be luck determining your experience of the beach. If you have a motorbike however, do explore further away from the main area - it gets much better.

walking along the beach
Another picture of a coconut
Nearly every coconut I have in Vietnam teaches me one lesson or other the hard way. The previous coconut taught me to ask the price before I gobble the coconut. I took it to heart and made sure that is one will cost me 20000 Dong but the lessons weren't over. This particular coconut taught me to ask the price of the chair that I sit on while having my coconut. That's right, I had to pay for the chair.

Luxury throne for 15000 Dong per seating
No wonder they were all deserted! I shouldn't whine too much though, the chair was mentioned in the menu, albeit at the very bottom in the tiniest font imaginable. It's just blind old me who didn't notice that it was charged.

Cute fishing boats
In retrospect, I loved my (short) time at Danang! Most tourists never make it to Danang, everyone just goes on ahead to Hoi An. Part of me feels that that is a pity, since Danang is lovely, real and had a good energy going for it. The other part of me is aware that the main reason the city is how it is, is because there aren't many tourists there. Tourism tends to change a place and it's often not for the better. However, Danang shows absolutely no signs of becoming a touristy place anytime soon.


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