Big Shiny Mountains

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, March 3, 2006

One of the coolest things we did while in Hoi An was visit Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain is, as you may have guessed, a mountain made entirely of marble (in fact, there are a number of marble outcroppings in this area). The mountain is dotted w/a series of caves and temples, and offers fantastic views of the surrounding area (including China Beach). Interestingly, the Vietnamese have begun importing all their marble from China, in an effort to preserve what's left of the mountains. We rented some decent hybrid bikes (30,000 a piece, about $2) and biked the estimated 28 kms out there. The road we took was lovely in some stretches, as it had been freshly paved, but in other parts it hadn't yet been completed, and we nearly fell off our bikes trying to pedal through the deep sand. All in all, the ride was great - it was nice to be back on a bike - and we got to the mountain around noon. The mountain was not what I expected: I (idiotically) had imagined a shiny, polished piece of marble that wouldn't be too interesting apart from its chemical makeup. I was wrong. We were confronted by a craggy (not shiny) mountain, covered in trees, which had plenty to entertain us - we spent over two hours hiking around the mountain, taking in the sights. Throughout the mountain were beautiful caves, home to a number of impressive statues. One of the caves felt right out of Indiana Jones, w/its high cathedral-like ceilings. The mountain also featured Hindu and Buddhist temples (none of which we explored, as our biking gear wasn't temple-propriate).

After our adventure on the mountain, we returned to our bikes, which a woman offered to store at her marble shop. As a gesture of gratitude, we looked around her shop, contemplating buying a small trinket. As I've mentioned, we don't have much room in our packs, and we didn't want to add 50 lbs on to their weight by purchasing a huge marble statue. So we found something small, a little Buddha, which others in the town had offered for $1. They wanted $17 for it - you wouldn't pay more than $6 back home - so we declined and started out of the shop. They were displeased that we didn't want to buy anything, so we hustled out of there and biked across the highway to China Beach. It was, as per usual, a cloudy, cold, and windy day, so there wasn't much to keep us there, but we did share a tiny overpriced lunch.

From there, we biked back to Hoi An, mulling the days events, glad we had decided not to take the easy motorbike option.
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