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Monday, May 22, 2017

Da Nang

For the days following the wedding, Ayden and Carrie had a lot planned. On Sunday, the 21st of May, we all went to Ba Na Hills to start the first day of sightseeing and activities. Of course, I couldn't start the day without another visit to Anthony's hotel for the breakfast buffet.

We were pretty short on time after eating, and we had been warned that late-comers would be left behind, so I rushed down with Anthony to catch our GrabTaxi. Unfortunately, Anothony... got distracted. We both ended up making it in the end, seeing as the bus driver was willing to wait a bit, but Anthony wasn't happy about having to catch another taxi. We then spent a full day wandering around in the international sensation that is Ba Na Hills. It really did seem like we had left Vietnam behind as almost all of the workers there were tall westerners. In fact, this one guy dressed as a king was probably well over seven feet!

A good portion of the time was spent on the cable cars going up and down this mountain. One might assume that they just like throwing money around but, in such a humid country, I suppose I can see the value in putting your resort up above the clouds on a cool mountaintop.

They definitely spent some money putting this place together though. We saw a lot of hired dancers and costumed performers throughout the day as we walked around taking in the various attractions. The European style buildings, large cultural monuments, and various activities at the sports hall were all clearly meant to give the impression that they had spared no expense.

The main attraction was the toboggan. We probably waited 45 minutes to go on that ride - it was worth it though. I kind of felt like it made up for missing the one at the Great Wall of China.

Later that evening, back in Da Nang, we came together for a pool party at Ayden and Carrie's villa. We had some good local food, shot some pool and, of course, swam in the pool. We also had breakfast there the next morning before heading off to see Lady Buddha.

I had to catch a flight later that evening, so I followed the bus all day on my rental scooter. This was mostly okay except for the ride along the beach at which point I pretty much got sandblasted. We then went to Marble Mountain for a visit to the caves there.

I also wanted to take an elevator to the top but, lo and behold - another broken ATM. This proved to be a pretty big concern as I didn't have money for lunch, and we were running out of time. Thankfully, one the of the waitresses at the restaurant we went to was willing to hop on my bike with me in order to help navigate to an ATM that worked!

Lunch was another interesting meal consisting of some local and international elements if I remember correctly. When we were done eating, most of us had to take off, so we said some quick goodbyes, and I hopped on the scooter for one last ride. On the way back to my hotel I had to make one stop though... I had left my shoes at Anthony's hotel. Most people who know him were unsure I would be able to get my shoes back but, thankfully, with a little prodding from hotel reception, I was able to get him to open up. Overall, an awkward encounter to be sure, but I got my shoes!

Finally, I picked up the rest of my gear and caught a GrabTaxi to the airport. There I managed to get in one last visit with the brothers that I had met with a few days earlier.

As I reached my gate I saw another familiar face - Adam from the wedding. Back in Hong Kong, he introduced me to a little travel indulgence to which I hadn't previously given any thought. It turns out that airport lounges are more than just a quite place to relax. In fact, some of them are right up there with holiday resorts! Adam had a +1 option on the lounge benefits of his credit card, so he got me in for the free shower and buffet. Now, these two things may not sound like a holiday resort experience but, when you consider the contrast of a busy day of travel vs a relaxing shower and a good meal in a comfortable lounge, the feeling is right up there. If you've got the money, or your credit card has this benefit, I'd highly recommend giving yourself enough time to take advantage!

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