Da Nang & Hội An

Nick and I took the train from Hue to Da Nang and enjoyed the scenic journey along the coast. We watched as the wind blew and waves crashed onto shore, a result of Typhoon Sarika. This was a beautiful ride and would recommend it as it skirts around Hai Van Pass. Anyone who watches the show Top Gear will recognize the scenery from this part of Vietnam. In addition, those traveling by motorbike or small car, have the opportunity to travel up and over the pass.

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Our new train friend

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train

We arrived in Da Nang and explored the market and Cao Dai Temple. This temple believes all regions have the same reason and dignifies Mohammed, Laozi, Jesus, Buddha and Confucius. We enjoyed banh khoai (fried rice crepes filled with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts) for lunch with our new couch surfing friend, Tuan.

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Couch Surfing with a view
Tuan lent us a motorbike and Nick and I went to Marble Mountain. The Marble Mountains consist of 5 craggy marble outcrops topped with pagodas, each representing a different element (water, wood, fire, metal and earth). Thuy Son is the most famous mountain and although it has turned into a tourist trap it is a great afternoon visit. Explore the natural caves, pagodas and overlooks.

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Marble Mountain
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We met up with Tuan and drove across the Dragon Bridge to the beach. We swam in the warm ocean and the night sky was illuminated by city lights. He took us to get his favorite street food and Nick was in heaven (as always, the idea of a vegetarian is not understood). Nick’s favorite dish was the banh lọc, a chewy tapioca dumpling cook in banana leaves, stuffed with shrimp and pork. We spent the evening walking along the river, getting to know our new friend.

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Dragon Bridge
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Banh Loc – chewy tapioca dumpling stuffed with shrimp & pork

The next morning Tuan, Nick and I took motorbikes to Monkey Mountain where we saw over 20 monkeys hanging out on backroads roads and enjoyed a view overlooking the city. We had morning pho then said our goodbyes as we set off to Hội An.

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View of Da Nang from Monkey Mountain
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Hội An is a delightful town, excluding the hundreds of tourists and pushy sales people. The old town is exquisite with unique architecture and laterns lighting up the river by night. Nick and I spent time enjoying the old town, including: the old houses and museums, Japanese covered bridge, paper lanterns, and market. We also spent time at the beach and Thanh Ha pottery village.

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Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation
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It’s common to see woman picking lice out of each other’s hair
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Vietnamese couple on the Thu Bon River

As usual, it felt like Nick and I spent the majority of our time eating. We ate from a variety of street vendors, the Old Town Market food stalls and Vy’s Market. Some of our other favorite dishes included:

Can lầu – a famous dish that can only be found in Hội An, made with noodles, pork and local greens. A single family that holds the secret noodle recipe continues to supply the entire town as they use water from a special well.
Banh Bao (white rose) – shrimp dumping that are supplied to all of the restaurants by another single family that holds the secret receipe
Com Ga – chicken fried rice
Muc– local squid
eggplant – not sure what makes the eggplant dishes in Hoi An so special but they are delicious!
Banh Xoai (mango cakes) –  sticky rice filled with peanuts and sugar (no mango)
tofu soya cheese – try this rich dish at Vy’s Market
Hoanh Thanh – fried wontons, Hoi An’s take on nachos
coconut pudding – try this steamed coconut bao dipped in a coconut milk, sesame seed sauce at Vy’s Market
fresh rice paper in cam nam – Hoi An’s take on bread and butter
deep-fried battered bananas
Mi Quang – noodles, pork and shrimp
Thit Nuong– grilled pork tripe
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Old Town Market food stalls
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The Ba Le Well
Nick and I are headed to Siem Reap for a few days to volunteer at a World Vet’s clinic and help Nick’s mom. Then, we’ll return to Vietnam and finish exploring the south!

2 thoughts on “Da Nang & Hội An

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