After spending 4 days in Hoi An, we finally left the ancient city today – there’s only so many coffee shops you can lounge around in and only so many lanterns you can look at before it begins to feel a little like groundhog day. So we hired a scooter from our hotel for 136,000 VND (about £4.70) and drove in to Da Nang to see the breathtaking Marble Mountain.
A cluster of huge shards of jagged rock and sheer cliff drops combine with dainty flowers and shaggy grass-like hair to make up the five Marble Mountains; Metal, Wood, Water, Earth and Fire. The mountains were like nothing I’ve ever experienced; you can delve to the depths of abyssal caves where bats squeak in unison as they fly far above. In the darkest corners of the caves places of worship are lit with tealights and the smell of incense is overwhelming- the farther down in the caves you get the more Hell is depicted with barbaric statues and gruesome gargoyles. As you ascend up the twisting, winding, marble staircase you’re lifted into Heaven itself and greeted by hundreds of miniature Buddha’s and angelic sculpture’s with flashing halos.
Once out of the caves you can explore the exterior of the mountains; various pagoda’s, Japanese bridges, water fountains with colourful fish and lily pads, and steps carved into the cliff where you can view the violent waves crash on the shore front down below. You can climb and squeeze into all nooks, crannies and crevices the mountains have to offer- but make sure you bring a torch with you as some are immersed in darkness; all have hidden treasures for you to discover. The Sun shone down from above and made this the perfect end to our stay in Hoi An (until we got caught in a monsoon on the way home…twice).
Today’s experience was truly unique and provided me with yet another reason to love this part of the country. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Hanoi and then will be flying to Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia, and unfortunate as it sounds I am looking forward to leave Vietnam. Happy Tet to my fellow travellers staying here over New Year, Year of the Rooster woohoo!
**Top Tip**When driving to Marble Mountain, make sure you DO NOT enter through Gate 2 like all other tourists- it costs 40,000 VND p/p to enter the person, plus parking costs. If you walk up the path a little, on your right you will see some steps- this is Gate1. There are no ticket booths on the way up to the Marble Mountain and nobody inspects your ticket once inside you will be able to gain the experience completely free of charge.