It was the 11th of April, and today my journey was very short – less than an hour away. I took a wander through Hội An’s old town once more before saying goodbye to the folks at Magnolia, getting lunch and dragging myself out of town. The weather was still very hot (40+ degrees, or more than 100 fahrenheit) but the roads were smooth and unbusy.
My hostel was near the beach – the Funtastic Beach Hostel, just like it says. Despite its name, it was a pretty rad place to stay. Cheap, with a relaxed atmosphere. I felt like I could dilly-dally there all week and no-one would mind.
A friend told me about the hill in Da Nang called ‘Monkey Mountain.’ It overlooks the city, and there’s a small track that leads to the top. I had plenty of time after arriving so I decided to see if I could find it. It turns out that this isn’t hard to do – it’s on Google Maps. Getting up it is a little trickier, as it’s pretty steep and quite narrow. It took me at least an hour of riding from the start of the track, sometimes in first gear due to the incline. The sun had set by the time I made it to the top. My phone was just not capturing the scene, so I resolved to return the next day and do it justice.
I love me a good cable car ride, so the Bà Nà hills were definitely on my checklist for the next day. It’s one of the longest cable cars in the world at 5.8km. I believe this was built by the same company behind the 6.3km cable car at Fansipan.
It’s a touristy place and there were lots of pushy visitors from a certain large Asian country. Better get your elbows out if you want to beat these guys. The day was roasting hot once again and I had to take a fair few water breaks.
What Bà Nà is missing is a story. There is a history to this place but it’s certainly not on display. It needs something to make it special. There are mountains, buildings and gardens to see but that’s about it.
On the way down I left part of my camera in the cable car. I was panicking for a bit, but the staff eventually located it and I was very grateful.
Overall I’d say it’s a fine experience. With this and the construction going on at Fansipan, it feels like a solid step forward for Vietnamese tourism.
After I lost my camera thing, I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to get up monkey mountain in time for a sunset shot. Indeed, I did not have time. I determined that I needed another day in town and the hostel easily organised me another night. In the meantime I checked out some of the restaurants around town.
I wanted to get up early and snag a sunrise shot of the city but I’m so bad at getting up early. I did get some good snaps in the evening. There are lots of narrow windy tracks on the hill to explore, but some of them lead to government buildings with gates and dogs and armed guards. One rather aggressive dog kept on after me and very nearly ended up under my bike. I wasn’t trying to nail him, but to be honest, I wouldn’t be very sorry if I had done.
Da Nang is a great city but it’s one of those places that’s better to live in than to visit. Nearby Hoi An has a lot more charm. I enjoyed chilling in this city for a day with little to do. I had been on the road now for two weeks. Next up was Huế via the famous Hải Vân pass.