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Da Nang, Vietnam

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vietnamese cities remained a mystery to me because the geography was not something that I had memorized, I didn't know one place from the other. Our trip to Da Nang was the next on our list and I hadn't a clue as to what I would see. After learning a bit of history,

Da Nang Vietnam

I found out that this area was popular with servicemen during the Vietnam war as an "R and R" city. China Beach (I'll talk about later) is close to this area also.

Da Nang Vietnam Waterfront

We rode in a somewhat comfortable bus that took us over a long suspension bridge before I began to see much of the city. The bridge looked expensive and well designed, but I only had to look down on both sides to began seeing the small water shacks that were sprinkled throughout the area. Most of the shacks were made of the usual tin and occasional plastic covering to break the weather.

Da Nang Vietnam

As we came off the bridge into the city, the scenery began to take on that familiar, worn look that much of the country has had so far. Much to my surprise, a Vietnamese man in dark sunglasses came to the front of the bus from the back and was talking on a cellphone to apparently, someone important. Within minutes, at least twenty motorcycles began surrounding the bus and the bus driver continued to make a loop around several city blocks in what appeared to be an attempt to make our presence known to the town (as we passed the same thing more than once).

Da Nang Vietnam Nun

 I had previously been told that the Vietnamese "Mob" controlled the transportation and the tourist industry. This might sound ridiculous until I tell you that two Canadian women that I know were run off the road in their cab by three other cab drivers outside of Phu My a few days before. The cab that they were in (although legitimate) was not connected to this other "mob" group and my friends were forced out of the cab and had to walk back rather than being forced to ride in another one.

Da Nang Vietnam Market Area

It seemed obvious at this point that the mysterious man in the sunglasses was talking to someone outside of the bus. He said something in an angry tone to the bus driver and we immediately pulled over into a market area. My sidekick and I quickly got off the bus and walked through the pushy vendors and onslaught of rickshaw and motorcycle drivers who insisted on selling a ride.

Da Nang Vietnam Market Area

Da Nang was dirty and crowded. The familiar heat and humidity was also unavoidable. We worked our way through the busy streets and found ourselves walking through an outdoor market filled with fruits and flowers. The vendors wouldn't make eye contact for the most part and I so passed on buying any fruit.

Da Nang Vietnam Market Vendor

We then stepped into an indoor/open air market that was filled with dried seafood and various goods. As usual, the aisles were extremely narrow and you had to push you way through multiple venders who insisted that you buy large bags of dried shrimp and paper shoes as they grabbed onto your arms. A few of the women who ran some of the stalls were nice and sat off to the side without a hassle.

Da Nang Vietnam Indoor Market, Dried Goods

After exiting the other side of the building, we found ourselves on another street and was immediately spotted by motorcycles and rickshaw drivers who continued to insist that I pay for a ride. I was ready to move on into another part of the town and began walking quickly down the block. After a few blocks of brisk walking, it seemed we were moving away from the venders and insanity and towards the "regular" part of the town. There were still many people on the streets and plenty of shops, but after a few minutes I noticed that the looks and reactions had changed.

Da Nang Vietnam Locals

I generally try to smile and wave at people as I walk by to be friendly, mainly if they're just sitting there or staring. However, this time we just began to get sneers and insults thrown at us. This kind of discomfort went on for many blocks as we walked around. Smiles were always met with frowns and spitting out various harsh words in Vietnamese that made no sense to us. Such pleasant people huh?

Da Nang Vietnam Local

As usual, I tried watching and capturing (but politely) the various things that people were doing in the city. Vietnamese people do NOT like their picture being taken. This little girl threw something at me as I walked by, so I thought it only fair to capture her photo. LOL.

Da Nang Vietnam Local 

I find the general attitude here funny because for the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing Vietnam tourism commercials on T.V showing how smiley, friendly and warm this country is. Hmmm...

Da Nang Vietnam Local

I didn't mind seeing the "back streets" of the city since it was a way to continue to see how the people of Da Nang live.

Da Nang Vietnam Flower Vendor

Needless to say, the two of us explored on our own for a number of hours, but were ready to leave the city by then. What was the point in continuing? This guy on the right of the picture was trying to get me to pay for a ride on his bike, you can see his response when I politely said "No, thank you"

Da Nang Vietnam Motorbike Driver in Market

I wouldn't even dare to stop and try to buy a meal since the owners of the little cafes would turn away coldly and walk off if we stopped to look at the food. So...WHY am I being so negative and telling you all of this?? Well, no one bothered to tell me this before I went to Vietnam. The tourist industry tries to promote something completely different than the reality of what you'll likely experience. I have heard though that if you go on a fully guided tour that things are a bit more comfortable. Remember, you'll never be in danger, but you must be prepared for this cultural change. Overall, not a good experience in Da Nang. I have some photos of the area that you can check out HERE.

Da Nang Vietnam Lazy Security Guard


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