Vietnam by Moto Day 17: Hai Van Pass to Hue

Made famous by an episode of BBC Top Gear, the road from Danang to Hue crosses Hai Van Pass (some even call this Top Gear pass). The main traffic bypasses the route with a tunnel so only motorbikes, livestock trucks and oil tankers use the pass.

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Oil tanker headed up.

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View from the coconut stop. Some other backpackers took this for us.

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View toward Danang

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Pig trucks. We saw so many of these.

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Coconut and hammock a perfect combination. This was an expensive coconut for 2 at 40k vnd.

We took our time up the pass to avoid overheating. At the top, we stopped to check out an old military installation from the war riddled with bullet holes.

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Top of the pass

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Military installation at the top with bullet holes

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Looking north toward Hue from the pass.

I filmed part of our descent and Rob sped it up with Microsoft hyperlapse. Check it out here.

Continuing on the highway to Hue, we passed a valley full of vendors with cases of bottles. At first we thought gas, then happy water. The air started to get smoky and we began to see home-made stills. Rob stopped at one and bought a bottle. It was really expensive, $6.

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One of many roadside stills.

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The road was lined with these displays of bottles.

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Roadside distillation stall. The smoke along the road was terrible. 

It was amazing how many of these stills were operating. While it was interesting to see them all, it was also a relief to leave the smoke behind and turn off on to the “coast” road (it was really an huge inlet for much of the drive) leaving the highway behind. The way was slower going and longer but the scenery was beautiful. We got lucky and realized that there is bridge back toward Hue earlier (farther south) then we expected so we were able to get to our hotel before dark.

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Avoiding highway 1/taking the scenic way to Hue

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Fishing on a many land-locked bay south of Hue.

Vietnam by Moto Days 16-17: Dark beer, beach and bridges in Danang

The drive to Danang from Hoi An has about 3 turns max. The lower trafficked coast road was plenty fast and soon enough, we were in the suburbs of Danang.

As we approached, huge karst mountains loomed. We realized these were the marble mountains advertised on tours all around Hoi An. We stopped for a photo and a quick drive around the base. The mountains are filled with sculptures and there are shops around the base selling them if you want your own to take home. Recently, they added an elevator so you no longer have to hike up the mountains.

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The whole area around the Marble mountains contains a variety of shops selling statuary, although the marble is now from China not the actually marble mountains.

 

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Marble mountains outside Danang. The hills are filled with statues and shrines. They built an elevator (far left) so you don’t have to do most of the hike up. We just decided to take a look from the outside as there were so many bus tours there.

 

We stayed at the Titan Hotel in Danang just a few blocks off the coast. Best $10 a night hotel we’ve stayed in yet. It even has an amazing breakfast buffet.

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Our room at the Titan Hotel. So fancy for $10.

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A bathroom with separate shower. Fancy living!

After relaxing a bit in our beautiful room, we set out for a walk on the beach. En route, we found a new local snack food, bánh mi que, a toasted bread stick stuffed with a tomato meat paste for only 3,000 vnd. Two, please!Prime beach hours for the Vietnamese are early morning and early evening. We timed it right to catch numerous football and volleyball games in progress as well as packed swimming areas with folks enjoying the waves.

We had dinner at a busy local place near the hotel serving bún with a variety of meats. A very nice women helped us order. It was good but not as good as our lunch bowl.

After dinner we decided to get the motorbike and see more of the city. Some of the bridges were suppose to be near so we went to check them out. We discovered a draft beer garden full of people and stopped for a beer. They actually had dark beer!

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Dark beer at the Draft beer garden. This place was pretty busy. Many tables had towers.

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One of the other Danang bridges. They all put on a pretty good light show at night.

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Dragon bridge profile

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Dragon bridge in Danang

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Concrete fake yacht restaurant on the river

After a massive breakfast the next morning, Rob went for a scenic drive by himself.  At one point he stopped and got into a photo session with two women from Danang. When he got back, we packed up and headed for Hai Van Pass.