Our cruise ship
stopped at Da Nang/Hue after Ha Long Bay.
This is an emotional day for my wife coming back to her home town after
The ship docked at Chan
May, a port situates midway between Hue
and Da Nang.
We got off the ship and walked to the port gate to get a better taxi
deal. We had lot of choices since there are more cars than customers. We
had a pretty good idea of how much to pay from a friend who had cruised
the similar route so we settled for a sedan with driver for the whole day
quickly. We didn't want to share the car with others to maximize our
flexibility of when and where we want to go.
Our first stop was
my wife home and the Pacific Hotel her parents built in 1973. The
government converted a portion of her home to a bank. The other portion
is used as a travel agency. When we were there, the bank closed for lunch
so we couldn't see the inside. The Pacific Hotel still stands strong after 46 years! The government
keeps the hotel in decent shape to compete with the surroundings competitors. Da Nang is one of the top tourist cities in Vietnam
nowadays. We saw lots of hotels and motels throughout the city. We walked
inside the hotel lobby for a closer look.
Having a look at my parents-in-law business for the first time, I
realize the scale of their businessback in the 70's. It's not easy to
build such a big scale business anytime, anywhere. I salute their
business mind. Too bad it lasted only 2 short years up to 1975. I felt my
mother-in-law feeling when she refused to go back to Da Nang when we offered her the trip
back in 1994. It's really hard for her to see her hotel but can't claim
it back! We also walked around the immediate neighborhood for a look at
local life. We saw lots of mom and pop restaurants and stores. The
streets looked so big when we were there in the 70's now suddenly look so
narrow! After living in the USA
for almost 40 years, the lifestyle in Vietnam is suddenly so crowded
and noisy. The streets and the lifestyle haven't changed, only our
Before the trip, we
got 2 tips for local street food and we tried them all. The first stop
was Banh Xeo Ba Duong in an alley.
The restaurant gets its name from the owner. It would be hard to find if
we didn't get the tip. After we found the restaurant and sat down, we
naturally waited for the menu. To our surprise, the waiter simply asked
us how many people in our party and brought us the food. It turned out
they served their signature dishes which are banh xeo and grilled pork
first. If we wanted something else besides those two dishes, then they
would offer the menu. The restaurant must be well known to locals and
tourists alike since we saw different walks of life dining there. The
price was reasonable. We had banh xeo, grilled pork and fresh coconut for
two for a bit less than $9 USD. The vegetable looked fresh so I ate it,
an act I didn't dare to do during my first trip to Vietnam in 1994.
Our second stop for
the street food was banh nam, a specialty of Hue food. This is a small shop with no formal tables and chairs. It
only has small stools and tiny tables serving 12 people max. Again, no
menu needed. They simply brought us food without asking 'cause they
served limited Hue
style food there. We had a good, decent meal for two for less than $4
USD. If we eat authentic food and don't mind the restaurant environment,
food cost shouldn't be expensive in Vietnam. We also tried to
visit a beef steak restaurant owned and operated by my wife childhood
neighbor. They were out of town so we didn't have a chance to see them.
After satisfying our
tummy, we did sightseeing. We stopped at Con Market known for local
and Han Market known for tourist.
My wife went to those markets with her mom when she was a kid. She still
remembered some of the layouts and designs. We tried che dau van, a
typical Vietnamese hot dessert, at Con Market for $0.50 USD. We also
bought tropical fruits there. Han Market is mostly for tourist. We just walked
around and didn't buy anything. Next to Han Market is the Dragon Bridge which wasn't there in the
70's. We also stopped by My Khe
heading back to our cruise ship getting ready for our next stop: Nha Trang.
Khai Minh, UCLA and Investools
Angeles, 17 May 2019