“there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” – Sarah Kay
As the train came to a halt and it was time to disembark I was both excited and nervous. These same feelings have hit me with every new location along this incredible journey. It took me a couple of stops to realize that it was normal to have these and most importantly it was OK to have them. Here I was in another new city, this time Da Nang, Vietnam.
I made my way via a Grab Car (think Lyft) and to my hostel. I choose this one for the fact it had a coffee shop on-premises and the location – halfway between the city and the beach. It was really my determining factor, as I had no idea what areas were best to choose. I had arrived about two hours early for check-in and was prepared to wait. The lovely young lady at the desk offered me a drink (lemon iced tea) while I waited. I drug out my laptop and tried out the wifi. After several locations with poor service, I was happy to have good internet. In about 30 minutes I was informed my room was ready and I moved in. The bed was a bunk, but it was a double instead of a twin and provided some privacy as three sides were walled. The room had a private bath and balcony, which were all perks. The only thing I was not expecting was my singing roommate, who preferred to practice her operatic notes at 2 am. Otherwise, it was a perfectly fine room for my five nights in Da Nang.
The first evening after getting settled in, I went for my 30-minute walk to meet up with Chuck (staying in another part of the city) to see the beach. It was already dark, so I mostly enjoyed the quiet. Other than the waves crashing onto the shore, there was not much else going on. It was peaceful and beautiful. But I quickly realized that the beach was a much-needed reprieve for me, one I did not realize I needed. My Khe Beach during the day is another beast. Still beautiful, but you definitely will not find yourself in solitude. Despite this, as I walked along, the waves crashing over my feet, I still felt a sense of letting go. Letting go of what? I was not quite sure yet.
In each city, I have kinda struggled to find a place to really sit down and work. I jumped around and tried new places each day. I assumed this would be the case again here in Da Nang, but I was wrong. The first morning I settled in at Ruya Coffee and it was the perfect place for me to dig in and get some work done. The second floor was my private office the entire week I was there and the lemon tea here was so refreshing. I would get up and walk along the beach and then settle in to get some work done. My creative juices really started flowing for me.
The one thing you will always find when researching Da Nang is about the Dragon Bridge, which is spectacular in every way. It is large, it looks like a dragon, it changes colors via lights and on the weekends it breathes fire and spits water. It is a unique structure that creates an even more unique experience. When the world is not on the verge of a global pandemic, thousands gather every weekend to watch the show. I was there just as trouble began, so it was more like hundreds, but the AWE of it was not lost. What you do not read about as often are the other stunning bridges along the river and the number of buildings with LED light shows adorning their facade. The people of Da Nang love to put on a show and it is magic to the senses to watch.
Marble Mountain could have a post all to itself and maybe it will, but for now, I will share a snip-it of the majestic mountain. Chuck and I decided to tackle this adventure together. I had heard it was not that big a deal to see and I had heard it was something I should not miss. Upon the urging of a new friend, Ivan, we went. If you ever find yourself in this part of the world and do not stop here, you have done yourself a disservice. It is absolutely breathtaking from inside the caves of marble to the views from the peak of the mountain. I must admit, that I could not fathom making this hike during the summer in Vietnam, as it was so very hot the day of our climb. The caves provided some relief from time to time and we even found a couple of rockways that the breeze felt as if the AC had been turned on. We both took several moments through the time there to just soak it all in.
As I met people and explored the city, it became clear that there are not any strangers in Da Nang, Vietnam. There are only friends you have not met yet. The friendly nature of everyone I came in contact with was amazing. I made so many new friends in my week here (I extended by two days) and I know many will be in my life for years to come. I met Ivan and he gave me so many pointers for my upcoming time in Bali. I met Vincent who owned The Story, a bar that became my hang. I became friends with Rex and Joe who were also traveling from the States. And I met Viet, who not only was a great friend and showed me around the city, he opened up his home to me when I decided to extend my stay. I will never stop mentioning how the people I have met have shaped me over the last several months. Da Nang was no different, as I know I will continue to learn and grow from those I am lucky enough to encounter on the adventure of life.
Just like the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shore, I refuse to stop exploring, learning and living life to the fullest. The sites I have seen, the food I have eaten, the obstacles I have overcome and friends I have made all have made me a better and more aware person. I hope I never take these kinds of things for granted again.