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  • Writer's pictureDonna Kitchen

Hai Van Pass & More

Today is the day we hire our first scooter for the trip.

While we get used to riding in Viet Nam we opt for only one scooter as here they drive on the opposite side of the road to us. Oh, and there are no stop signs or give way signs but astoundingly there is no road rage or accidents. It just works. Also love the traffic lights having a countdown to stop and go but traffic starts to go at 3 on the 3, 2, 1 countdown. Also apparently it's against the law to turn right on a red light, but you can.

With our scooter chosen we hit the road making our way to the Hai Van Pass which used to be the main road over the mountain to get the Hue. They now have a highway with a tunnel going through the mountain allowing most of the traffic to pass that way.

Once we found out that the Hai Van Pass is only quite short, 21Kms we changed our minds from doing it as a transit trip from Da Nang to Hue by and rather do it as a half day adventure.

I'm getting ahead myself as before we went on this ride we went to Son Tra Peninsula where you'll find the gorgeous statue of Lady Buddha, Son Tra Quan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. She is most magnificent and is one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations for Buddhists throughout Vietnam. Otherwise known as the Goddess of Mercy, she looks upon the sea and the port with her gentle eyes, protecting the local fishermen and giving them strength to fight the waves and winds.

This statue stands out from Da Nang as she is at an almighty height of 67metre atop the mountain of 580metres above sea level.

She also marks the entrance to the Son Tra Linh Ung Pagoda, which is one of the most beautiful temples in that part of Vietnam.

We were sweating buckets as we wandered around that we felt that a refreshing icecream was needed.

Now we head back towards Da Nang to move on to the main feature of the day, the Hai Van Pass which is about a half hour's ride out of the city. This gave us an opportunity to get used to the roads, traffic and riding on the wrong side of the road.

Before long we started to climb this famous mountain pass with the many greens of the jungle on one side of the road and the turquoise blues of the ocean. Although there was still a fair amount of haze around, the view was mind blowing. Our first stop wasn't that far up the mountain where we were encouraged by this lovely old Vietnamese lady on the side of the road, sitting under an umbrella with a few plastic chairs and an esky full of cold drinks. She was so kind, offering to take our photos, directing us to the exact spot to stand for the best photo. Why didn't I remove my helmet? This would have made a much better photo.

This was only the start so back on our bike, Kevin as driver, me as navigator.

The views were pretty spectacular as the road curves back and forth, some slight bends, some hairpin turns, with amazing views of the mountains rising high over the South China Sea looking down on deserted sandy beaches below.

With only a few days into the trip we have noticed how friendly and helpful the Vietnamese people are. Even with language barriers with the older people of Vietnam, a Xin Choa or a simple smile is easily given. This became the case many times when we stopped on the motorbike to take on the view. One fellow happily started a conversation with us and gave us a brilliant suggestion as to where to have some lunch on the other side of the mountain.

We took him up on his suggestion, choosing one of the seafood restaurants on the beach.

Hai San Beach

The return trip was just as magical with the clouds whisking through the peaks. On the top of the pass are the vestiges of long ago, a fortified gateway was built in 1826 under request of Minh Mang King. It has been left in ruins but there seems to be some restoration taking place.

We very much enjoy our first motorbike trip in Vietnam but it was a bit hair raising as google maps brought us through the busiest roads of the city as we returned the bike to the motorbike shop.

Deciding to eat local tonight we braved a street food vendor and with lots of pointing at pictures and google translate we ended up with our favourite meal to date.

So far we've both had an emergency toilet visit but nothing too major, meaning the food and change of diet hasn't upset our tummy's.

After a huge day, especially for Kevin as he negotiated the traffic on the roads, it was a relatively early night.


Donna & Kevin

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