Jan. 12, 2017:
This morning we arose to another glorious day in the central part of Vietnam, here in the city of Hue. We are moving to the coast of Vietnam today, but before we do, we start the day out with a visit to a lovely Buddhist pagoda called Thien Mu (“Heavenly Lady”), which sits right on the banks of the Perfume River. Somewhat surprisingly, there are water buffalo grazing on the side of the road right outside the pagoda complex!
The pagoda was built in 1601, and is dominated by a 7 story story tower called the Thac Phuoc Duyen, or Source of Happiness Tower. Today, the pagoda is still home to a monastery, so we got to see several young Buddhist novices going about their duties. Our guides did a really great job explaining the customs of the novitiates and about Buddhism generally. Of course, we also got some really awesome shots!
We then got to have a brief ride down the Perfume River on one of the ubiquitous “dragon boats” before we got back on the busses, for the trip to the southwest.
Sound noon, we stopped in the coastal town of Lang Co to enjoy a traditional lunch, and then headed over the Hai Van pass through the coastal mountains to get to Da Nang; home to “China Beach” as the GIs called it.
The drive through the coastal towns and through the pass was really pretty, and this is an area where Vietnam grows most of its coffee. From the top of the pass, you can see all the way down into Da Nang, which is probably why the pass was also the site of substantial US fortifications. The bonus was getting to photograph another young Vietnamese couple on their wedding day!
Then we got our first views of China Beach, and it was everything Jim had been hoping to see. Our new digs at the beachside Furama resort also don’t suck, so it looks like we’ll be very comfortable here for the next couple of days!