Friday, 3 February 2017

Monday 1st August 2016 (Hoi An, Vietnam Day 4 - Marble Mountains)

When we had been researching places to visit for this trip, I'd seen some pictures of the Marble Mountains and wanted to go. They are up the coast about half an hour away, between Hoi An and Da Nang. We set off by taxi on Monday morning.
We were dropped at the foot of the Marble Mountains (there are a cluster of five mountains, named for each of the elements, but visitors can only go on one - Mount Thuy - Water).
There were loads of marble statue shops around the place, and I wanted one of the happy fat Buddhas, but Scott was a downer with something about weight allowances...

We got a lift to the starting point of Mount Thuy.

Even from just the top of the lift, the view was quite good.

The place is a crazy mixture of Hindu and Buddhist grottoes just dotted around, with little paths going all over the place. We didn't really have a plan or much idea of the overall layout, so just enjoyed wandering.

The ceramic roof tiles and ornaments were just gorgeous.

It was extremely hot and humid, and I was still not feeling well, but was drugged up again. It was really quite a 'trippy' experience! I just slowly floated along, not fighting the heat, but trying to relax into it. The craziness of the place definitely added to the surrealness of the experience! All in all, I was quite happy just wandering around, taking my time on the steep bits.

One of quite a few caves.

The Bat Cave!

Coming out of the first cave was hilarious! It got really steep and narrow, and you just had to scramble up rocks, holding onto metal rings in the wall.

Scott emerging from the cave!

Part of the path to the summit!

Great view from the top.

Everyone was drenched with sweat by the time we reached the top.

View along the coast back towards Hoi An.

View of Da Nang.

We then carried on walking through caves and along little paths.

The Huyen Khong Buddhist grotto was what I most wanted to see, and it didn't disappoint!
The rest of the family continued in, while I sat up on the steps for a while taking in the atmosphere. It was reverent and quiet, with some people praying at the various shrines. Shafts of light coming down from holes in the roof looked incredible as they lit up the incense smoke hanging in the air. I loved being there and just wanted to absorb it all.

Jack in the spotlight!

The guys inappropriately making shadow shapes!

We stopped for ice creams, then gradually made our way back down the mountain on foot, passing many more interesting sights. We also bought a box of six little happy fat Buddhas each in a different pose from a stall on the mountain, so we could each have a reminder of the day.

We then caught a taxi back to Hoi An, and got off a kilometer or so away from our hotel, and got food at an open sided restaurant. (We think possibly the meat on Harry and Tom's pizzas made them sick later on - it was the only thing they had in common.) Street sellers would come by and try to sell us stuff as we ate. I asked one lady of she had any bracelets, as I wanted some for my nieces, but she didn't have any. She said she knew someone who did though, and a bit later her friend selling bracelets came past, so I bought some.

We had a lovely walk back under the coconut trees by the South China Sea!

Our hotel in the distance. The sea is on the left of the road, and the river on the right. We talked about communism, and how the Vietnamese people seem to live.

The sunset that night was absolutely beautiful. Lucy and I stood on our balcony watching it for a while. It was gorgeously peaceful. There was a large cloud with a lightening storm going on in it, over to the left, which was pretty spectacular too, and bats darting around.

It was a perfect last evening, until Tom was suddenly sick. He didn't make it to the bathroom and was sick all down the sides of his bed, my bed and all over the carpet! We didn't have anything to clear up with, so I went down to reception and told them. They sent a poor guy along to clear it all up, and I felt so bad for him! I thought the smell in the room would be pretty bad, and I asked reception if they'd consider moving us, but they didn't have any more rooms available with three beds, so we stayed where we were. The smell wasn't too bad after all - the guy had used some pretty strong chemicals to clean up with.
Tom continued to be ill, with diarrhoea too. I went to talk to Scott, and Harry had started being sick too!!! There we were, needing to leave the hotel at 6am in order to catch our next flight, with Harry and Tom simultaneously being sick! They were pretty ill, and we suspected food poisoning. We didn't get much sleep that night!

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