Citizen of the World
Our Saigon tour guides picked us up at the hotel at 6:20 a.m. this morning and shuffled us to the airport where we boarded a full Vietnam Airliner for the seventy-minute flight to Da Nang. Our guide and driver in Da Nang were waiting at the airport and immediately threw us into tour mode - no stop by the hotel, no restroom breaks - just run, run, run! Sadistic bastards!
We began the day at a museum of Cham artifacts (google it), follow by a trip to Marble Mountain - which is, not surprisingly, a mountain of marble. At the foot of the mountain are many shops with marble souvenirs carved from the mountain's marble. There was a new elevator ascending the mountain, but I elected to climb the uneven and very slippery steps to the top. That was a huge mistake. Each time my left foot landed on a step I heard the word "broken," and the sound of my right foot striking the slick marble steps was "leg!" Broken leg, broken leg, broken leg! How, I wondered, would they ever get me off of the mountain with one or more broken legs?
But somehow I made it up and down Marble Mountain. I spent the rest of the day looking for a tee-shirt to hail my accomplishment - but never found one.
Marble Mountain is home to a couple of nice caves and several Buddhist shrines, some with enormous marble statues of the "Enlightened One." From the top of Marble Mountain we had a fantastic view of China Beach - the place where American troops used to go to relax and surf during the Vietnam War. The waves at China Beach are immense!
Most of the afternoon was consumed with walking the streets of a vast Vietnamese open-air market. I ran by many interesting things trying to keep with the long-legged Murphy and Tuan, our energetic guide. One continuing irritant was several Vietnamese is the shops who would pat my belly and say, "Happy Buddha!" I decided not to be insulted. (The "happy" Buddha is the pot-bellied one who is always laughing.)
Da Nang is beautiful. Our hotel, the Ancient House Resort, is beautiful. The Wi-fi at the hotel is not beautiful and does not work - so I am typing this missive from the "Guest Relations" desk in the lobby.
More tomorrow from the ancient capital of Hue where we will spend two nights. Until then I remain your "Happy Buddha!"