We were lying in bed in Da Nang watching the neon sign of the Hotel Miami Beach flicker.
It’s all strangely quiet and tourist free. We had expected a bigger badder Nha Trang but there’s not a growling, beetle-browed Russian bear in sight. No bears, but quite a Dragon.
Da Nang is famous for it’s Dragon Bridge.
Which does some lovely things.
And some spectacular things.
Sure there are multi-storied hotels lining the beach but the surf-side sleazification hasn’t really started. It’s a white sand beach, strangely underpopulated, sprinkled with little Gilligan’s Island umbrellas, deck chairs, tropical islands on the horizon and as long as you are aware of the dangerous ‘undertoad’ that lurks in the depths and keep to the designated swimming areas it is a hidden gem still.
The esplanade is awash with seafood restaurants adorned with dozens of bubbling tanks and tubs full of every imaginable sea creature, scuttling, gliding or sitting a little glumly with their claws tied.
We wandered down a road throbbing with Karaoke and clinking with billiard halls, the Vietnamese equivalent of n’er do wells slumped over the tables in louche attitudes, smoky phô joints ful of happily slurping families and chic board shorts emporiums with, yes, strangely spooky mannequins.
So on we trod in that inimitable way you do in extraordinary Asia, looking right and left, up and down and backwards and forwards all at the same time. Hop, skip and jumping out of the way of the toot-toot-tooting scooters. No wonder massages are so popular here.
Down a dark street, past a sugar cane and assorted fruits juicing entrepreneur, into a dark alley and who should we run into but our old pal The Min Meister !
Just behind Minnie was a boisterous restaurant where we sat. Fans were turned upon us and iced water and juice appeared. Only after we’d ordered the chicken rice did we realize it specialized in seafood (despite the large photos of all things aquatic, spearguns and nets on the wall, waiters with wooden legs etc….).
Happily filled we headed for home, this time down a street past a room filled to the brim with out of tune electric pianos, another with a young chap strumming a guitar to a group of even younger students, a row of little old ladies squatting on the ground with arrays of gas cookers hissing on the ground before them, each cooker holding a tiny blackened frying pan, each frying pan sizzling up what looked to be delicious crispy rice and coconut milk pancakes filled with bean sprouts, each mini pancake rapidly disappearing down the gullets of an eager crowd of happy customers.
Stumbling on we found quite by chance (as all the best things are found) the Doll Café.
The Coffee was frothily creamy, utterly bitter and magnificently minty. A dream in a cup.
The coffee dolls.
We floated out The Doll and wended our way home, but Da Nang was not through with us yet.
Charcoaled chicken feet anyone ? We guess you nibble what you can and use the leftover as a tooth pick and/or back scratcher ?
Finally, We’ve all had a pint or three at The King’s Head, perhaps a counter meal at The King’s Arms ? But, Da Nang ! Oh really ?
We’ll leave you here because we have to dash back to The Doll for another fix. Tomorrow ? Hanoi !