Sunday, 1 June 2014

The scenic road from Hue to Hoi An

The road from Hue to Hoi An passed through some spectacular scenery over a few hours in rural and coastal central Vietnam  - well worth the drive up the mountains going through the famous Hai Van Pass.  The drive also took us through the city of Da Nang and a fascinating site called Marble Mountain, a cluster of five marble and limestone hills named after the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, earth).  There were many caves in the mountains that were used as Buddhist shrines with temples built into the mountain side.  During the Vietnam war, it was a Viet Cong guerilla haven - the Viet Cong used a huge cave in the mountain as a hospital and was able to escape detection even though it was less than 10 km from the military base in Da Nang.   It was a steep hike up the mountains followed by winding paths and it was hard to imagine how the wounded were transported up to these caves.

The view of the gorgeous beach in Lang Co from the mountain road.  Lang Co is being developed into a beach resort.

Herd of mountain goats crossing the road

View from the Hai Van Pass - would have been spectacular if not for the haze

Modern city of Da Nang viewed from the bridge

Beach front in Da Nang
Stunning Dragon Bridge in Da Nang

Steep steps up to Marble Mountain shrines

Buddhist temple near the top

Old bell inside the temple

There were quite a few caves in the mountains with ancient shrines and temples.

Pagoda on Marble Mountain

Vietnamese mother in national costume posing with her children on the steps of the pagoda

This map gives an idea of the system of caves - the largest cave at the end, Huyen Khong Cave was the one used as a hospital during the war.

Entrance to the cave

Huyen Khong Cave 

A natural skylight in the cave ceiling brought sunlight into the cave at certain times

At the foot of the mountain, the village Dong Hai is famous for its stone sculpting craft shops.  Statues made here are exported to all parts of the world - and obviously non-denominational.

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