Central coast

We rode from Hue to Da Nang, winding our way south of the city to the sea across large flat lakes and inland waterways surrounded by paddy fields. The weather cleared and became sunny and hot, the heat for once welcomed after the winter rains for which this area of the country is notorious, along with flooding.

The roadways were tiny, country lanes with small villages to either side and neatly gathered hay stacks filling front yards. Bamboo shaded the route as we crossed a variety of dykes to a new large bridge to Vinh Thanh, an island connected by causeways back to the mainland. Several groups of day trippers from Da Nang passed us on scooters, hunting out the remoter beaches to the north having ridden the Hai Van Quan Pass to get here and the winding costal road which we were to follow.

When we finally reached the top of the pass we saw the extent of Da Nang spread out below us. The huge curved bay and sheltered sea sat behind the peninsular of Monkey Island adjacent to the city’s tall skyscrapers of hotels and apartments, shining in the late afternoon sunshine. It seemed incongruous that such a big place should have mushroomed after the quietness of the coastal villages we’d been passing through, like Benidorm in post Franco Spain or the beginnings of another Las Vegas in a desert. Descending off the pass, we dropped through the warm sea air to a three lane highway lining the sea front full of rush hour traffic. This was the first time we’d encounter fast vehicles and scooters, the road big and straight enough for some scary driving.

Crossing Da Nang, the huge roads, speeding traffic, and oneway system made the place feel like a dreadful labyrinth from which we were never going to escape. We saw one scooter pile up at a vast roundabout through which no traffic slowed and we too had to navigate. Eventually we found our hotel and unsurprisingly found it to be surrounded by construction sites for more hotels and seaside holiday apartments. There were power cuts as we tried to unpack, wash and go out but dinner was delicious and typical seaside holiday food of fried squid and prawns with stir fried morning glory and rice.

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