En route to the statue, the first thing I noticed was that the streets were less hectic and the ambiance fostered a calm and gentle mood, in deep contrast to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. And right off the bat, I knew Da Nang was going to be a good time. Moreover, Da Nang is one of Vietnam’s premiere beach cities, and so as we traveled to the statue the left side of the road was populated by seafood street eateries and hotel buildings and resorts, whereas the right side was the beautiful coast of Vietnam. Our driver took us up the hills of the coast and dropped us on the temple grounds.
The sun was out, the clouds were nowhere in sight, and the heat was hot enough to fry eggs. The grounds were planted with a variety of flora as well numerous statues of deities. There were several Forbidden City-esque temple buildings, where people were free to burn incense and pray. Mind you, shoes are never to be worn in the temple buildings; there were usually hushed sounds of socks scurrying across the hardwood floors.
Opposite from the largest temple building, was the hillside that over looked the coast and the city of Da Nang. Further down the site was the main attraction, the massive Buddha statue. The clear blue skies were a perfect backdrop for the pure white statue. The statue stood probably a couple of hundred of feet in the air and possessed an aura of serenity as well as sublimity.
Hundreds of pictures were taken before we all went back down the hill and stopped at the beach. The beach was spotted with cabanas and vendors trying to persuade us to sit and relax. Unfortunately, we weren’t allotted enough time to fit the cabanas in. Nonetheless, the beach was still awesome. The sand had a super soft texture and white tinge. The water was crystal blue and was definitely a tropically, warm temperature. Overall, the statue and beach visit were amazing site visits, but what is exploring a city without trying its famous specialties. The driver drove us from the coast and into the streets of Da Nang. We arrived at a street vendor whose specialty was the famous bun cha ca (rice noodles with fish cake) of Da Nang. Like any other Vietnamese local, we sat on the plastic chairs on the corner of the intersection as the numerous mopeds and motorcycles passed. The dish was served hot in an average sized bowl, with garnishes and all. Pieces of fish cake floating in the seasoned red tinged broth, thick white rice noodles ready to be eaten, and mixture of green onions and cilantros to top it all off. It was definitely one my favorite dishes the whole trip. After we ate, maybe some fuller than others, we had to conclude or little excursion and head to Hue. The road lead us up, down, over, and through the mountains of Vietnam. Going through the mountains in a very long tunnel, in which we all attempted to hold our breaths but eventually failed, Co Sally gave us our orientation for our mobile clinic the next day. In retrospect, it was ironic we literally had a mobile orientation for our mobile clinic. Hehehehehhe. On the way, we also took a fancy pit stop in the middle of the mountains. It was built into the natural forests of the mountain and had a tree house feel to it. Not only was it a pit stop but also a bar, restaurant, and shop. Summing it up, the duration of the ride lasted around three hours. When we finally arrived at our hotel in Hue it was night time, and we were all pooped. We all checked in and went to get some rest, for the day after was our very first mobile clinic.
-- submitted by Kevin Dao, UC Berkeley