Vietnam, Da Nang doings, with Dad !
The scooter drops me off a 10 minute walk away from Da Nang airport. He shows me his tire has a flat and smiles a domino toothed grin. So I smile back, pay him 70 000 Dong for the ride plus and an extra 10 000 to help fix his tire , and head on my way. ( I am a sucker for Domino toothed smiles).
As I walk down the steps to domestic arrivals I see him; baggy elephant pants, loose cotton shirt and white Havana drug-lord hat, walking past me.
I shout .
and wrap my arms around my dad in a warm father-son-happy-to-see-you embrace.
My dad had travelled from Siem Reap, Cambodia via Ho Chi Min to meet me in Da Nang for a 5 day “The Pizer men do Vietnam” adventure.
After the usual catch up chatter in the taxi, we arrive at our beach side Hotel, a wonderful and clea, narrow 7 story building serviced by some of the most beautifully accommodating people I have ever met. (Shout out SeBea Hotel, Da Nang!! 5★ joint).
It’s too early to check in so we grab some grub at the local corner ” Pho shack”. Vegetarian noodle soup for me , Beef noodle soup for Dad. Delicious.
We walk off our Pho on the never-ending stretch of prime beach land and decide that the stretch is too demanding for mere feet work. So we rent some bicycles from our hotel and hit the coastal road towards Da Nangs famed “Marble Mountain”.
The road to the mountain is coincidently lined with a multitude of marble manufacturing houses. Each with towering marble statues of all your favorite divinity or holistic idols, as well as some cliche fancy hotel or restaurant monuments too. Everyone from Mother Mary to Moses, to all varieties of Buddha ( fat, thin, happy, laughing, morose or otherwise) were side by side wit giant dragons, tigers and funny faced characters. All awaiting adoption. It was like a marble statue orphanage, where you could choose between a giant dragon or the goddess Shiva to be the mascot of your newly opened Asian cuisine inspired resturaunt.
At the mountain my dad and I go exploring through the many caves and chasms created by the mining of the mountain. Where the marble once was there is now bountiful Budhist shrines and deities. Some actually carved into the rock, outlined with moss and streaked from the tears of the cave. Unfortunately, it’s not all shrines and stalagmites. Hoping to find more caveing wonders, we enter a cave called the “Devil’s Cave”. Expecting the worst, as soon as we turn the first corner, we cringe in fright. Funny demon faces peak out from the shadows, scenes of people being tortured and dismembered are set up like cheap house of horror nativity sets through out the cave. And the shrines remain, except every budhist statue is framed with fluorescent neon lights straightcfrom your nearest redlight district. Some even flash and sparkle as you walk by. It’s horrific for sure, but not in the way I think they intended.
The next day we decide to put some work on our rented bicycles and head to the coolest thing we could find.
“How about that giant white Budha statue Dad, the one in the distance over there between the coastline and the mountains?”
“Looks close enough, cool, let’s do it”.
And off we went.
The Pizer boys pedalling on our shabby rent-a-cycles, shirtless. All the locals, men, women and children, stop and stare at the spectacle.
All goes smoothly, then we hit the mountain, and the incline does damage. First to my Dad`s knees ( 🙂 ), then to my no gear, basketed, out of sorts lady bike;
As we are climbing the last hill to mega Budha of the sky, my excessive pedalling proves to much for my cycle and I push the back wheel off its hinges and into the side bracket. Luckily my Dad is part MacGyver, and we manage to jam it back into place using a rock. ( Applause all around).
After a 2 hour cycle we eventually reach the temple and the perch of the great Budha. My Dad and I are both soaked in sweat and seek refuge among the shadows of the Budha statues and temples. The entrance to the main temple is lined with different marble Budha representing different characters of the Chinese and riding different animals. We both choose our favorite and which one we resonate with the most. My Dad chooses and old dude with a walking stick riding a tiger. (He said he just wished he had a walking stick because his legs were shot from the ride). I choose a chilled out Budha semi-cross legged, on a goat, with a stick in his hands. To me he just seemed so content and happy. Finding bliss in something as simple as a stick. ( I guess he just STICKS out from the rest … 🙂 ).
Standing in front of our target for the days ride, we are struck by the enormity of the White Budha statue. It is immensely big. From a certain angle, the white marble of the Budha looks to be formed by the fluffy white clouds that surround it. Floating, like a true god above the earth, in the soft blue sky.
With the blessings of the Humungo-Budha, we head back down the mountain, my Dad dripping in sweat and me, praying to whoever, that my back wheel doesn’t pop off as I am speeding down the mountain. Both of us happy and content with ourselves and our simple little adventure, as the Budha is with his stick.
NEXT STOP, HOI AN!