Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Danang and the Marble Mountains

Where has the time gone? I guess when you're on holiday time has a tendency to slip through your relaxed fingers, although I must admit we've not really had a chance to "relax", as it were. We've been on the go pretty much the whole time during this adventure - so many places to see, so little time!

Training it to Danang

So we hopped on a train again over a week ago, this time bound for Danang. It was a 4:30am start waiting outside our hotel for a taxi to the train station.

We got to the station and waited some more. My poor son was very tired, and he needed lots of cuddling.

The scenery heading north was beautiful and varied. We were on the coast for a bit of the journey, looking out to the South China Sea.

Then we were inland seeing the countryside, mountains, rivers and people.

This is why I wanted to ride the trains as we get to see more of the country and the contrast between big city Vietnam and small towns.

We arrived at our destination at dusk.

From our hotel room we got a great view of the city and two of the bridges over the river.

The Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn; "Five elements mountains")

The following day we hired a van (driver included) and headed for Hoi An. We stopped at the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five marble and limestone hills that are named after the five elements (Ngũ Hành) of the ancient oriental philosophy; Kim Sơn (mountain of metal), Mộc Sơn (Mountain of Wood), Thuỷ Sơn (Mountain of Water), Hoả Sơn (Mountain of Fire), and Thổ Sơn (Mountain of Earth).

There are a number of caves, grottos and Buddhist temples on the mountains with natural entrances and tunnels. We took the elevator up the Thuỷ Sơn with the spectacular views to all 4 mountains and the Danang coastline.

There was a beautiful pagoda up here, dating from the seventeenth century.

One cavernous cave housed an entire temple, with Buddhas carved out of the cave's rock. Rays of sunlight streamed from mossy ceiling openings far above and always with the air wafting with the smell of incense. Everything joined with steps of marble amid trees and fluttering butterflies.

This was such a magical place, and the cool mountain breeze was a welcome relief from the heat of the day.


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