Sunday, 7 February 2016

Scooting to Hoi An for Tet and scaling the Marble Mountains

Where was I?  

Right.  Tipsy at the beach and then on a scooter on my way to Hoi An.

I still have tons of time before check-in or before any festivities will commence in Hoi An, so I will give visiting the Marble Mountains another try.

When I approach the Marble Mountains, local women again try to steer me to their house for safe parking and payment for said parking. I just shake my head and keep rolling down the street and then park right next to a tree that is located about 2 meters from the first step leading up the mountain at Gate 1.  

There is an UGLY elevator behind me along the road, but I am of the strange opinion that a visit to any religious building high on a mountain has to be earned by using one's feet.  

Back in Middle Earth

Once on top, there are temples....

.... passages...
... holes in the walls....

... also known as caves ...

... and a steep path to Heaven Gate

My earlier point about having to put some effort in to accomplish something spiritual is semi-confirmed by the steps to the Heaven Gate.  If it was so easy to get to heaven, all your neighbours and acquaintances there and the place would deserve the name HELL.

After not noticing any gates opening up here, it is time to walk back down.

Along some stairs (I am surrounded by green bamboo on all sides), I hear a strange noises. It takes me a while to work out that it most likely is a bunch of monks during their noonish prayer.
<monks chanting video>

By the time I get to the pagoda right next to the elevator, I'm actually ready to take the elevator DOWN (getting old). Fortunately, the elevator is out of service, so I walk down the rest of the way to Gate 2 and then back to my scooter.  Now  I have more respect for the many other visitors. I had assumed that I was the only one walking up the stairs, but since the elevator isn't working, they all must have.

The rest of the trip to Hoi An is uneventful, except the occasional stop to take pictures. Thanks to a working cell phone with GPS I find my hotel on Hoi An Island right away.

 Then it's time to be blown away again.  The receptionist gives me the 'large' room.  

When I actually see the room, I am astonished. It is a suite on 2 levels with 2 complete bathrooms and 3 beds, sufficient to MORE than adequately sleep a family of four. 

 Not only that, the furnishings, sitting areas, and the bathroom perks are amazing.  AND there is an ASHTRAY sitting next to the coffee cups, so I don't even have to use the balcony to smoke ;-) 

True, this is Vietnam, but paying US$ 45 for the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in seems good value !

The hotel stairwell
Time to leave the hotel, check out the back alleys,and find some food.

 And then the sun comes out. And this groundhog is very relieved to see his shadow again ;-)

 After wandering the streets for a while I end up eating at Chau My, a restaurant not even listed on Tripadvisor.

 I eat Cao Lau, a specialty in these parts. The Cao Lau with pork costs 25,000 VND ($1.40?) but I end up getting the one with pork and shrimp for VND 45,000. Once in a while it's worth splurging a bit ;-)

Typical Vietnam: A novel way of inflating balloons !

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