One might surmise that the most exciting thing about Danang was the monkeys who visited us pretty frequently on the lanai of our enormous and beautifully appointed suite at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Well that’s actually true. Danang is sort of like the Las Vegas of Vietnam – lots of neon, bright lights, glitz and glamour.Beach houses in Danang sell for upwards of $1 million. It’s not a place I would ordinarily choose to go, but I really wanted to see China Beach and the breaks where my late brother Robbie used to surf when he was on R&R as an Army point man/radio operator with the 9th Infantry Division.
We didn’t actually go to China Beach, but we did get close. It rained much of the time we were in Danang, but that didn’t keep Jerry and me from swimming in the hotel’s spectacular infinity pool.
I kinda wondered why AK included Danang in our group’s itinerary, but I think it was to show off this hotel.
The hotel was built by some Vietnamese entrepreneurs who had done very well for themselves in Russia. They spared no expense in creating a destination resort with all sorts of amenities and beautiful suites. The hotel has three tiers, called Heaven, Sky and Earth. We stayed in Sky. Here is a view from our lanai.
In order to get from one level to the next, there is a really cute little tropical trolley:
The other transportation option was little golf cart-like vehicles referred to as Bookies that you called to come pick you up. Walking was a challenge because of the rain, the distances and the incredible number of stairs.
Our room was really beautiful and comfortable and the bathroom was a place you could simply sink into, literally and figuratively. When you open the blinds, you get a view of the ocean from the bath tub!
But, seriously, it was the monkeys we will remember when we think of Danang.
Jerry had his first encounter with one of the male monkeys while I was out touring. He was painting on the lanai and a monkey came up behind him, and was quite hungry and upset. Jerry had to fend him off with a stool!
Jerry watched some maids fending off a monkey on another lanai and saw that they gave the monkey a banana. They told him it was okay to feed the monkeys some fruit. So when the monkeys returned to our lanai and started banging on the sliding glass doors, I grabbed a banana and threw it out to them. When the bananas were gone, I threw a mango and a female monkey proudly possessed it, with the males looking at her with envy in their eyes.
The resort was pretty much carved out of the jungle and the monkeys came right along with the development. The mountain has always been called Monkey Mountain, after all.
As we drove away from Danang, we saw a suspension bridge that was built in 1966 to take weapons to China Beach.
We stopped at a traditional fishing village and got to see a whole fleet of fishing boats, as well as some of the traditional round basket boats that are still used for fishing. Pulling in the nets reminded me a little of helping my father bring in his nets on the North Shore.
The old American heliport and hangers are still at China Beach, but are now used for drivers education, we were told. Really? The people we see on the roads actually had drivers’ ed? Our guide told us that 30 people die every day in Vietnam in auto or motor scooter accidents. Sad, but not surprising.
More coming tomorrow regarding Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), which I had not seen since 1971 – and I didn’t recognize a single thing.
– Paula Rath