Why don’t they get a rope and hang me?
Da Nang Vietnam
In the last bit I talked about how my day got a lot worse. Well…here’s how it happened.
First off, I can never read, or hear the word Da Nang without hearing Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam singing
‘danang me, danang me, why don’t they get a rope and hang me’ to the tune of Dang Me by Elvis.
Da Nang is pretty well known by westerners because of it’s high use during the war due to it’s easily accessible deep water port. So it was the site of a big military base during the war. It’s a big city nowadays for sure with skyscrapers & urbanization aplenty.
We had big plans to visit the Bana Hills which is a newly constructed french villa / entertainment park on the side of a mountain and features one of instagrams new favorites, the golden hands bridge, which is a foot bridge on the side of the
mountain supported by two giant human hands, which make nice pictures and a great view towards the sea. That did not happen.
After hiring a 10 passenger van to pick us up at our hotel in Hoi An and take us to Da Nang we were off late morning-ish.
The drive is not long between and it is gorgeous. Beautiful rice fields and cemeteries dot the side of the road and it’s a fascinating drive. Our first task was to locate two airbnb’s that were booked separately for our large group. This is where things went south. Our driver was not from Da Nang, and the mapping services in Vietnam are still a bit sketchy… google needs to get on this! Like most Vietnamese cities, the road system is an utter maze and bewildering complex, with no plan or reasoning other than avoiding waterways and such. Most of the cities are hundreds if not thousands of years old so the idea of cars was not imagined. We gave our driver the first address and started drilling down side roads trying to locate it… eventually he stopped and said he thought we were there but we were on some sketchy dirt roads in a residential area
that just… did… not… look… right. So.. we sent him to the next address. I could tell he was growing a bit frustrated. As he followed his phone down ever smaller and more crowded roads things got sketchier and sketchier. We could not located the 2nd address and now got stuck behind a large truck doing construction and a million motorcycles behind us.
He had to get out and beg them to move the truck because we were STUCK. The 2nd address was even worse. There was no way this was the correct place. We were all growing a bit tense and I was gathering a sense of dread at the idea of this guy dumping us in some random residential area with no address, 10 people, and 20 pieces of luggage. So we sent him back to the 1st area. Now he was REALLY getting annoyed. Eventually we located what looked like the right address (still did not look right) and he basically said you’re here. So much to our chagrin he stopped and started unloading our bags.
Some curious people started drifting out of their houses to watch what was going on with this huge group of people unloading luggage in the middle of nowhere.
We were at the wrong house. Luckily, the lady who did the cleaning for our airbnb saw us, walked over and showed us the correct place. It was only across the street and two houses down. Wheew. It was good to at least locate the place. There were other stressors as well. The lady who rented us the place pulled a switcheroo at the last second and said there was a problem with mold at one we initially booked and then sent us to this one. Then she refused to give us any discount and we were not happy because it split us far from the other half of our group which is why we booked initially. My sister fought with her via email for the better part of the day over it and in the end, she did not budge.
The house was ok, functional, but not very nice and we just had to make the best of it. In the end, we just abandoned the other spot and we all stayed at this one house so we could remain together. Again the house was ok, but kind of had a ‘vibe’ that felt a little negative to me. The beds were basically plywood, and the top floor was missing part of the roof
so rain just fell right in on the floor (not all that unusual in Vietnam but not what you expect to rent these days either). I have since read that this exact scenario is playing out all over the world in AirBnB’s at home and abroad. It’s a boilerplate scam to make money off terrible properties. Buyer beware.
At this point we were all hungry and a chunk of our day was gone so we just grouped up and walked over towards the beach. We found a nice restaurant nearby serving western food and I was actually jonesing for something ‘homelike’ so we ordered
stuff like burgers spaghetti and garlic bread. It was expensive but to our surprise quite good! This was the place with the famously misspelled menu. They also had ‘sppetizer and rumstick’!
We then headed over to the beach where some giant waves were smashing about eliminating any possibility of getting in the water, but there were some surfers out there enjoying it. I could see a massive temple and Buddha statue a few miles away on the side of a mountain from the beach and noted it to try and visit before leaving. We gave up on Bana hills given the short period of time we had left and just decided to check out a few local attractions. Da Nang has a ‘dragon bridge’ over it’s river and it’s kind of popular with tourists so we grabbed a couple cabs and decided to head that way. Our cab drivers were smart though, and suggested hey, why don’t we take you up to the giant Buddha & temple first and you can take some pics then we’ll drop you off at the dragon bridge? Boom. Got me. So we ended up visiting the temple first, which I did not regret at all. It was beautiful, the views were amazing of the city and it was a nice diversion. I was still feeling a little stressed out from the airbnb situation and it was good to get out in nature and relax a bit.
We ended up walking across the dragon bridge, grabbing some ice cream, walking around a bit, and then just heading back to crash. We all slept like crap on the plywood beds and the next day I think we were all happy to clear out of that place. It left a bad taste in my mouth and when I woke up the next morning I had my first and only real bout of homesickness. When I woke up I just had this feeling of ‘I want to go home’. I want familiarity and comfort food and my nice bed and coffee I’m used to. I want to feel relaxed for a day!
I knew I still had almost half my time left in SEA though and was not about to let one bad day ruin it. I gave myself an attitude adjustment… after all, I wanted an adventure and sometimes that comes with a bit of diversity.
We called a cab and headed for the airport to fly to our next destination, Hanoi.
It’s not fair to judge Da Nang on one bad day and I think it has a ton to offer someone willing to spend a little more time there and get to know it a bit. It has a beautiful beach, colorful boats in the harbor, and there is lots of stuff to do up in the hills.
But overall, this had been my worst day of the vacation. I didn’t eve take any pics with my nice camera that day. I’m happy to report that although I still had a few moments of
‘I’m ready to go home’ the rest of my time turned out to be everything I had hoped for. I did learn a few lessons overall about slowing down, and not trying to do EVERYTHING every time I go somewhere. I will work on this!