A Spot Of Culture In The Middle Of Nowhere

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Where I stayed
Soa Minh Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, December 3, 2012

It's our last day in Hue and our last amazing breakfast at Friendly Hotel. We eat as much as we can (as per) at breakfast and we spot our Canadian walking friends from Sapa - small country eh! We check out and hop in a taxi to the train station, we have tickets to the seaside town of Da Nang. Ian grins for the whole journey as the hotel receptionist gushed all over him and his simple smiley happy face on our departure.

We board the train at 10:45am and have perfect seats for the two hour coastal ride to Da Nang. The view along this stretch of coast is reputed to be the best in Vietnam so we are eager to see it. As usual, Anna has someone in front of her with their seat fully reclined. It's a curse that has followed her on every plane, train and bus since we left the UK. Ian masks a snigger. Her illness is also worsening and she struggles to keep her germ spreading to a minimum as we look out of the window at the beautiful scenery rolling by. The track follows the coast, around beaches, through hillsides and over jungle... all beautiful and wonderful just as advertised. It is a great train ride and before long we are pulling into Da Nang station.

Shuffling out of the station, we hone in on the nearest road sign and consult our map. For the first time in a while we don't get lost. Walking through the streets to our hotel, we don't see any other tourists and start to wonder why we've stopped here. The hotels are mainly business hotels and there aren't any major sights to visit. Just big roads with nothing much on them. Even our Lonely Planet says '...not much to see or do in Da Nang'. Hmmm...

We dump the bags at our nice new hotel and walk to out to the river. The streets near the river feel even quieter than Hue, although this city is much more built up and industrialised. The riverside itself feels like a fancy (and sunny) english promenade with decorated lamposts, floor mosaics, benches and some wonderful marble sculptures. It's really quite lovely and stretches for about a mile. We carry on following the river for half an hour until we arrive at the Museum of Cham Sculpture..... Ahh now we remember why we stuck a pin in Da Nang!

The Museum of Cham Sculpture houses the world's largest collection of Cham stone work and sculpture. The Cham people have been around for a long time and during the course of history they have moved around Asia, subsequently breaking into minority groups in half a dozen countries. They Cham people were extensively hunted in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. The Kingdom of the Cham people controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832 but are now mainly found in the south. They built impressive temples and created some amazing stonework/religious statues. The museum is well worth a visit and some of the pieces are incredible.

Having missed lunch, we have an early dinner. There seems to be a lack of restaurants in these parts and we settle for pizza, chips and coke. Not exactly normal Vietnamese cuisine but the only place we've managed to find. We munch away and reflect on our culturally satisfying day.
Anna's head is fuzzy and dripping snot upon our return to the hotel. She is not a bit well. Ian runs her a hot bath, very very slowly. The water pressure in our room is non-existant and the water dibbles out. An hour and a half later, Anna gets in the bath to soak and her head clears a little. She is refusing to eat any more strepsils though. They are a blue colour and we suspect the flavour is rotten fish guts. A delicasy here in Vietnam ;)
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