Da Nang was my first destination in Vietnam and that is because I couldn’t wait to be reunited with my friend Julia. She recently moved there back in April and my desire to visit her started as soon as she stepped foot on Asian soil. You must remember Julia right? I wrote a whole post about her and how she is the one who inspired me to have the life I have now. I was definitely in for a treat when I also got to meet her sweet roommate, Avery.
I honestly had never heard of Da Nang before I got the message from Julia that she was moving there. Da Nang is a beach town that is growing larger by the minute. It’s maybe the only thing that I didn’t like about the city, the constant construction everywhere. However, there is so much that this city has to offer.
The process of getting off the plane, travelling through customs, and picking up my bag from luggage check was pretty painless, partly due to getting my Vietnam visa in advance in Thailand. Something I wanted to note, at the airport there were guys offering to book a Grab for you to take you into the city, followed by asking how much money you have on you. Since I am quite an avid Grab user, I mentioned that I wanted to book with my app (I wanted the points too). They promptly ended the conversation when I showed them the app on my phone and told them I use Grab in Thailand. I can’t say for sure if they were running a scam or not, but just something to be aware of.
First night in Da Nang
Julia needed to work during the time I was arriving but she advised me to head to a coffee shop just down the street from her house where I would wait to be greeted by Avery. As soon as Julia got home, we went to watch the football game. Germany vs South Korea. I’m sure you know how that turned out by now and Julia was far from pleased as she sulked home wrapped in her Germany flag. That’s something I found interesting. I’m not a huge football fan. I don’t religiously watch the World Cup. Yet I found it really exciting to see everyone, locals and foreigners, getting so involved with FIFA spirit.
Alright, so the food in Da Nang is no joke. Since I am a vegetarian, Julia and Avery made sure to take me to places that either served only vegetarian food or had many options for me to choose from. There are no words to express how much I appreciated them for this consideration. It didn’t seem difficult for them as they enjoyed everywhere we ate too, but it was still so nice to not have to stress over finding something that I could eat.
My favourite place that we ate at was a restaurant who claims they make “fusion tacos” and that place is called Taco Ngon. You can choose what kind of protein you would like as well as a sauce. I got tofu tacos with wasabi coleslaw and guys, they were so delicious! I know, I know. I’m in Vietnam and should try more Vietnamese food, but this shop shouldn’t be missed if you are ever in Da Nang or Hoi An.
Meeting another Blogger
So once again, because Julia was often caught up with work, I spent a lot of time with her roommate Avery. She is super rad, just recently moved to Da Nang, and is a coconut coffee fanatic. Oh yeah, she writes a blog too. We checked out a few coffee shops but I particularly fell in love with Clover Coffee & Drinks. Not only is this place basically made to take all your new Instagram photos, the coffee was great and the atmosphere was a comfortable place for us both to do some writing.
Anytime that Julia wasn’t working, we were at the beach. I mentioned this in my last post about taking the Hai Van Pass from Hue to Hoi An, but I am obsessed with the beaches in Vietnam. This might seem weird but I really like the texture of the sand, it’s a little gritty but still quite soft. The main beach in Da Nang is called My Khe I believe, and that’s where we went the first day. Avery and I also walked along it during sunset as well as woke up to head down to it on my last day to watch the sunrise. During the day, the beach is pretty much empty with only a few foreigners/expats sunbathing. However, once 4 pm hits, families and groups of friends head there to unwind from their day and spend time with each other.
Visiting Lady Buddha
On my third day in Da Nang, we went to visit Lady Buddha and then (you guessed it) went to a beach nearby. Lady Buddha is the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam. It is said that she faces the sea to bless the fishermen of Da Nang. You can easily spot her from the shores of My Khe, but her size becomes much more relevant when you are standing at her base. Getting to Son Tra Mountain, the home of Lady Buddha and Linh Ung Pagoda, is pretty easy. We drove there on motorbikes as it was just one road parallel to My Khe beach. There is no set entrance or parking fee, however, there are donation boxes located around the temple. Linh Ung Pagoda is a beautiful contemporary shrine that was completed in 2010.
My favourite area of the complex was the 7 story pagoda, Thap Xa Loi, or the Tower of Relics. Honestly, it was very difficult for me to find information about this structure, relying on pages translated from Vietnamese. Part of the reason that I liked it better was that it was not as busy here as most people flocked to the feet of the Lady Buddha, which made it feel more relaxing. I was also just so enamoured with the structure of the hexagonal pagoda. The colours and design within the pagoda were much more interesting to me and I could honestly just sit there and soak up the tranquil tones of the surroundings.
We headed to a beach on Son Tra Peninsula (which was, of course, beautiful) and if you viewed my IGTV video from this day, I mention how I felt incredibly anxious. I’m so grateful to have friends that understand this part of me, knowing that my quietness had nothing to do with them or how much I was enjoying my time, and I sincerely hope it didn’t put a damper on their day either. I wrote about how nervous I was to travel again yet being with friends was so comfortable. It did dawn on me, however, that I was needing to go somewhere new and with that, I had to face that anxiety. I don’t know if these nerves will ever truly go away, but I am happy that I keep finding something in me to face them.
The next day was the day Avery and I woke up to see the sunrise at 5 am. It was also the day I was planning on leaving. I’m sure I could have stayed in Da Nang for my whole trip but it was time to see something new. I had a great morning and woke up in way better spirits than I had the previous day. Went out for breakfast with Avery, then coffee, then pizza at Pizza 4P’s. Also, we took a bunch of photos with the epic dragon bridge. I was enjoying spending time with her so much so I kept pushing the time that I was planning on leaving.
Julia, being the caring friend she always is and knowing my anxiety, kept asking if I had already booked my train ticket to Hue. Nope. That was the rule I had made for this trip. Had I booked my ticket in advance, I wouldn’t have been able to spend that extra time with a friend. Furthermore, once I got to the station and bought my ticket, it was less than half the price that it would have been if I bought it online in advance. Even luckier for me, the train was super late (not so lucky for the other passengers). I didn’t get to the station till about 3 pm (I was following an outdated train schedule) and the next train normally wouldn’t come until about 5:30… however, the 2:30 train was late and I was able to take that one. Things were looking up for me and my first attempt at making last minute travel decisions was a success.
So, we are off to Hue. I really enjoyed my time there but I was a bit lonely. After spending non-stop time with friends for the last 3-4 days, a quiet hostel was not the right choice. But that’s a story for next time…
Once again, thanks to Julia and Avery for being amazing hosts, inspiring travellers, and most of all, cherished friends.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you around soon,
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