On the Road in Central Vietnam
Drove from Hue through Da Nang and to Hoi An today. Well, we didn't drive. We were driven. This is our tour guide Thuan (on left) and our driver Hue (like the city). In Hanoi and now in the Central part of the country, our guides have been excellent and, on tour days, we have been driven around in these Sprinter vans - a nice luxury for sure. In case you are curious - I was - Thuan was paid $23 by our tour agency to spend the entire day with us. He has been guiding for 10 years and is very knowledgable, but that is the going rate regardless of the guide's experience or the agency doing the booking.
Once outside of Hue, we began climbing up this old windy mountain road (a good day to have a competent driver).
Once down from the mountain pass, we took a coffee and kem (ice cream) break in the seaside village of Lan Co. The kids had time to run around and play in the ocean.
Once we started coming into Da Nang, we saw something for the first time in Vietnam - wide boulevards with landscaped medians. Da Nang definitely has a more modern feel to it. You can see the ocean to the left. The former large U.S. base during the war is up the road on the left and is now a commercial airport.
We made a quick stop at the Cham Museum in Da Nang, which has a sizable collection of 5th and 6th century artifacts.
A stop for lunch in Da Nang to try the local specialty, mi quang, made me homesick because the broad noodles and chicken base reminded me of my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.
Throughout lunch I heard a chopping sound. When I went to the back to use the restroom, I discovered the source of that sound (I asked for permission to record this).
Between Da Nang and Hoi An, we made a final stop at the Marble Mountain site, which is a really cool hollowed out mountain (a giant cave) with various Buddhist shrines inside (much more impressive than caught in the photo).
After climbing down from Marble Mountain, we took a family coconut break.
We ended the day with a family dinner in Hoi An at the Secret Garden restaurant, where we had arranged to surprise Danae with a birthday cake and flowers. I'm not sure she liked the attention (the whole restaurant sang happy birthday), but the kids sure loved it.