Nov 8 - Dec 8, 2018
The Wonderful People I met in Danang, Vietnam
Location: Da Nang, Vietnam
Danang, like so many other places I've visited is graced by the wonderful people it keeps, and the interesting travelers who had the good fortune to pass through. I've connected with some great souls, but for the most part, it's fleeting - a metaphorical 24-hour shelf-life given its constant shift.
I was hailing any motorbike hoping it would be a moto-taxi as I was late for my meeting. She was looking at me and noting my urgency and frustration. Seeing my hopelessness, she came to me to explain that none would stop. Using her phone (I didn't have a Vietnamese SIM), she called a grab taxi and waited there until the taxi arrived. When the driver told me it was VND 70k, I was surprised. It was only a short walk away. Sensing my discomfort, she gave the driver VND 20k to defray my cost. She talked to the cabbie in Vietnamese and then she told me I only had to pay VND 50k. I was embarrassed. That's not my intention. I pleaded with her to take her money back, but she wouldn't. My discomfort caused her discomfort as well - a late realization. But I was glad to meet my first Good Samaritan in Da Nang. She would be the first of many wonderful souls who have shown me kindness and generosity in this beautiful city.
After having walked 30 minutes from my hotel to the foot of the bridge in search of the night market, I asked this lovely Japanese lady to point me out to the night market. She said she'll just drive me over on her motorbike. How nice! I hopped on and to my surprise, she dropped me off just 2 blocks from my hotel. I was back from where I came from! Yes, there was a cluster of restos there pretending to be a night market, but that was not was I wanted. It was funny. We became friends, hanging out for good German eats at M.Z. German Delicatessen and chill drinks at Minsk Bar. She was another Good Samaritan.
Mike and Ann
I met Mike on a set playing drums at Minsk Bar. He invited me the following day to join him and his beautiful Vietnamese wife, Ann, for lunch. They make a lovely couple. It was a good connection that hinted on future collaboration - digital tourism, beach resort development and just plain good chills. It's not everyday on my travels I meet people from my country.
Max checked-in at the same hotel and same dorm room where Alanna and I were staying. The 3 of us hung-out together for drinks and eats while I was in that hostel. Max was interested in getting started with yoga and joined my class regularly until he left. I hope I gave him a good start in his practice.
At Dango Hostel, I had a passing conversation with Alanna, a beautiful Canadian traveling solo. I later bumped into her again at Minsk Bar and had a conversation about leaving the default world in pursuit of travel. When I moved to Dango, I even ended up in the same dorm room with her. We spent time hanging out, yoga, walk to the beach, eats and coffee.
Alanna is not just a lovely face. With her voluptuous and curvaceous body accentuated by skin-tight or sheer clothing, she is a head-turner. She can literally stop traffic. Everywhere we went, every eye was on her. I remember what my father used to tell me - that it's good to have a beautiful wife as long as she's not too beautiful. Alanna underscores that. She admits it herself - that it's very hard for her boyfriend (whenever she has one) to deal with all the attention she gets from all the men. It certainly feels like you have to compete with with all those salivating guys at all times in every place. Given all the women I've met, I can only remember 2 other women friends who possess such magnetic allure to unleash the animal instincts in a man - Lea (singer and once a noontime TV show co-host of Eat Bulaga) and Melissa (a Cathay Pacific flight attendant whom I met while filming a beer commercial). I even went out with a stunning French model at one time, but even she does not fall in such exalted category
Alanna told me that without fail, any man she befriends inevitably falls in love with her. That's when her beauty becomes a curse. When the friend professes his desires and it's not reciprocated, it's also the end of the friendship - a beautiful and promising friendship that falls victim to her allure. A lingering awkward feeling prevails, and the guy as well, feeling rejected, would prefer to stay out of the picture. I will have to plead guilty on such charges too given some promising friendships in the past that crossed the line.
Did I fall for her? She was extremely attractive, but I can't say I felt anything romantic or sexual about her. We were just friends, hanging out. At the outset, I already realized she's for the world (like some of the people I know) - which left me guarded (to the extent I would be attracted). Like the Mona Lisa, some people are best appreciated from an arms-length.
Sasha and Andre
A guru-type I met in Penang, Sasha, passed-by Danang on their south-to-north route of Vietnam on a motorbike with his friend Andre. I'm glad that given my austerity, there was enough abundance to share - credits at CohibaR and a night's stay at my hotel, Sea Sand Apartment and Hotel. These are 2 impressive people - for what they know, for how they live their lives and how they keep their balance. Meeting such people remain a highlight of traveling. After an overnight stay, they went on as I started packing for my departure as well.
Another Good Samaritan in DaNang came as one of the hotel staff - Bich. She tried helping me out with my difficulties initially as part of her duty but we soon became friends and have continued to touch base.
Jen and I casually talked at the beach after we finished our yoga practice. We found common ground not just with yoga but also with our spiritual path. We had a good share. Later that day, we all hung-out for coffee and good eats with her friends - Richard, Ronnie and Toan. I didn't see her again after that. It was short, sweet and promising.
I just happen to sit next to Hien at a market eating stall. We somehow talked and learned that we were both university teachers. I can't remember much what we talked about she is an economics faculty of a prestigious university in HCMC. It would have been great to continue our talks but she had more than a handful of young students with her on this field trip. Again, another short but sweet social encounter.
I've just been here in Danang 10 days. 20 more days to go. More people to meet and more to write about.
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
(Nov 18, 2018) Wow!!! I loved it. Thank you for your words. I am beyond flattered
(Nov 18, 2018) Thanks for sharing and including me in your blog Gigit....you are amazing!
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Next stop: Danang Wall Art
Da Nang (city), Vietnam
46 An Thuong 3, phuong My An, quan Ngu Hanh Son, 550000 Da Nang, Vietnam
RESTO | BAR
6 An Thuong 3 (1.81 km), 550000 Da Nang, Vietnam
38 Phan Tu (0.34 km), Da Nang, Vietnam
7-9 Nguyen Van Thoai, Bac My Phu, Son Tra, Da Nang 550000, Vietnam
DA NANG BLOGS
- 30-Day Mini-life in Danang, Goodbye and Thank You Dec 8, 2018
- The Universe Provides Dec 8, 2018
- Pampered Living at Sea Sand Apartment and Hotel Nov 14-Dec 8, 2018
- Thich Nhat Hanh in Hue, Vietnam Dec 7, 2018
- Goodbye Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Dec 8, 2018
- Beer, Burgers and Friends at CohibaR DaNang Nov 25 - Dec 6, 2018
- Friendship, Beer and Sausages at the German Deli Nov 20 - Dec 1, 2018
- Beach Yoga in DaNang, Vietnam Nov 17, 2018
- Danang Wall Art Nov 8 - Dec 8, 2018
- The Wonderful People I met in Danang, Vietnam Nov 8 - Dec 8, 2018
- Revisiting DaNang, Vietnam Nov 8, 2018
- Backpacking Da Nang, Vietnam Jan 12-16, 2015
Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to Downtown Da Nang
- the airport is practically on the edge of the city center about $3 by cab. Taxis from the airport taking you to the city will try to charge you VND 10,000 "airport fee" in addition to your fare. Don't pay it. The passenger coming in to the airport already paid for this. But drivers don't pay this when going out. We were victimized by a Mai Linh taxi in this manner.
FYI / Tips
- Da Nang doesn't seem to have a backpacker area like Bangkok's Khaosan Road. The establishments are spread out within the city but most of them are lined up along the river between Han River Bridge and the Dragon Bridge
- XeOm or moto taxis are cheap and not aggressive
Hanoi to Da Nang
- plane - Jetstar takes you there in 1 hour, 15 mins. Da Nang Airport is just on the outskirt of the city center...about $3 by cab
- bus - a bus may take 15-16 hours from Hanoi's Giap Bat station
- train - the Reunification Express makes a stop in Da Nang
How to Get around Da Nang
- there are no tuks-tuks in Vietnam but you can rent a motorcycle, take a cab or hire a XeOm single motorcycle
- most of the places within the city center can be reached by foot - recommended as you see more of the city on foot than on a motorbike
- still, the best way to see Da Nang is on a bicycle. VND 50,000, it is not as cheap as Cambodia ($1), but it's still not bad. Or, you can check-in at a hotel that offers it for free - like Sanouva Hotel
Things to do, Places to go in Da Nang
- Lady Buddha - a 67m white marble statue on the slope of Monkey Mountain, similar to Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer
- Linh Ung Pagoda - same location as the Lady Buddha. Built in the 18th century and rebuilt by Minh Mang, the second ruler of Vietnam's Nguyen Dynasty
- Cham Museum - world's largest collection of Cham artefacts from the 7th to 15th century
- Danang Museum - free admission. Depicts life in Central Vietnam from 14th century
- Marble Mountains - see marble making at its finest together with an assortment of fine marble handicrafts. You can also explore the area for its many tunnels, caves and grottos
- Monkey Mountain - at 693MASL, it offers a stunning vista of Da Nang. You'll pass by the Lady Buddha on the way to the top
- My Khe Beach - fine white sand beach that stretches all the way along the eastern coast of Da Nang going to Hoi An
- Man Thai Fishing Village - a fishing village still using traditional methods
Da Nang Cost Index
- VND 12,000 1.5 liter drinking water
- VND 300,000 one hour body massage
- VND 10,000 banh mi (baguette sandwich)
- VND 25,000 noodle soup with meat
- VND 10-12,000 coffee
- VND 50,000 bicycle rental, 1 day (not readily available)
- VND 30,000/kilo laundry
- VND 380,000 sleeper bus to Da Nang from Hanoi (as of 2012)
- VND 100,000 dorm bed
- VND 200,000 double bed in a fan room, shared toilet
- VND 3,000 internet cafe
- VND 80,000 taxi from airport to city center by the river
- VND 460,000 Jetstar flight from Hanoi to Da Nang (no baggage)
- VND 150,000 seafood pasta in a decent restaurant
Vietnam FYI / Tips / Dos and Don'ts
- Hanoi Grapevine HCMC Update - for the latest events in Vietnam
- Vietnam establishments will not accept US dollars, unlike Cambodia. You have to use Vietnam Dong (US$1 = Vietnam Dong VND 23,255 = Php 53.20 as of Aug 1, 2016)
- Vietnamese smokers will smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. They also smoke inside hospitals with no smoking signs.
- Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
- internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
- Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
- best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
- remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
- ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
- best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
- leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
- when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
- carry only enough cash for your needs that day
- don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
- don't take pictures of military installations - you can go to jail
- refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Lesser-Known Vietnam Destinations
- Phu Yen Province - by the beach
- Hoa Binh Lake - locals' alternative to Halong Bay
- Ninh Binh - Trang An Grottoes, Tam Coc, Mua Caves, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Van Long Nature Reserve
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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