Da Nang Vietnam

My Khe Beach in Da Nang.
My Khe Beach in Da Nang.

Da Nang International airport arrival area is filled with taxi wranglers and other questionable characters, be aware! I use Grab whenever possible and I have not had much problems with the service.

Da Nang International Airport (DND) Arrival, with the usual scam artists and taxi customer wranglers.
Da Nang International Airport (DND) Arrival, with the usual scam artists and taxi customer wranglers.
This sign points to the downtown area of Da Nang.
This sign points to the downtown area of Da Nang.
Buildings along the Han river.
Buildings along the Han river.

Da Nang – Bridges and Beaches.

Da Nang has about 1.13 million inhabitants as of 2019 and it is what is called a first class municipality. It is the fifth largest city by population in Vietnam and it is one of only four centrally controlled cities in the country. Da Nang is the educational and commercial centre for the central coast of Vietnam.

Han River swing bridge.
Han River swing bridge.

The port is a big part of Da Nang’s importance as a trading hub. The port is well protected and it used to be accessible by going up the Han river. This is where the country’s first swing bridge was built to make it possible for ships to get into the harbor and at the same time have a bridge for transportation across the river in the city centre. Today the bridge swings for tourists instead of ships since other ways to access the port has been developed.

The Han river swing bridge seen from the side. The round column in the middle of the bridge is where it swings around and opens up for ships that are higher than the bridge span to pass going up river and into the harbor.
The Han river swing bridge seen from the side.

The round column in the middle of the bridge is where it swings around and opens up for ships that are higher than the bridge span to pass through going up river and into the harbor.

Han River bridge opens for tourists nowadays every weekend Friday and Saturday night 23:30 - 00:00 (best info - check schedule locally for viewing).
Han River bridge opens.

Today the bridge opens for tourists during season April – September every weekend Friday and Saturday night 23:00 – 23:30 (best info – check schedule locally for viewing).

A fishing boat on the Han river with the Dragon bridge in the background.
A fishing boat on the Han river with the Dragon bridge in the background.

In many ways Da Nang, as well as the country of Vietnam is a mix of high tech new ways of design, ways of doing things and the old traditional ways of getting things done and the way things look.

Dragon Bridge
Dragon Bridge
The head of the Dragon.
The head of the Dragon.
The head of the Dragon from another angle The dragon breathes fire at certain times at night.
The head of the Dragon from another angle. The dragon breathes fire at certain times at night.
The Nguyen Van Troi, Tran Thi Ly bridge was finished in 2013 and replaced two older bridges.

The Nguyen Van Troi, Tran Thi Ly Bridge (most often just referred to as Tran Thi Ly Bridge) was finished in 2013. The bridge was designed and built by Finnish firm WSP and it replaced two older bridges. The old bridges were named after two revolutionaries in the Vietnam war that ended 1975, one for Tran Thi Ly a female who was imprisoned and tortured in Saigon and the other for a male fellow revolutionary named Nguyen Van Troi.

Tran Thi Ly Bridge
Tran Thi Ly Bridge

Beaches

My Ke Beach wild surf.
My Ke Beach wild surf.
Scooters riding along the beach road.
Scooters riding along the beach road.

The beaches in Da Nang span between 20 – 30 miles depending a bit on who counts. However, this is a long stretch of public beaches on the South China Sea that attracts vacationers and surfers en masse.

One of the hotels lining the beach road in Da Nang.
One of the hotels lining the beach road in Da Nang.
Sometimes the hotel pool may be a good option to the wild sea.
Sometimes the hotel pool may be a good option to the wild sea.

Vinfast

The Vietnamese brand Vinfast is manufacturing affordable e-cars and e-scooters.
The Vietnamese brand Vinfast is manufacturing affordable e-cars and e-scooters.

Vingroup is a private company headquartered in Ha Noi with entities in among many areas, retail, hospitality, real estate, healthcare, education and even auto and scooter manufacturing. In 1987, the founder Phạm Nhật Vượng studied at the Ha Noi University of Mining and Geology and was sent on a scholarship to the Moscow Geological Prospecting Institute.

After finishing his studies and graduating in 1992, he moved to Ukraine and opened a Vietnamese restaurant. While he was operating the restaurant, he also started making and selling instant noodles. He founded a company called Technocom in 1993 which eventually became a market leader in dehydrated food products. The company was sold to Nestle in 2009 for USD 150 million.

After the sale of the company he moved back to Vietnam where he already had started a Vinpearl resort back in 20003 and he had developed the Vincom City Towers in Hanoi that opened in 2004. The two entities Vincom and Vinpearl were later merged to form the Vincom Group in which one of the brands is Vinfast. The once restaurant owner Phạm Nhật Vượng is now recognized as the richest (in monetary terms) person in Vietnam with an estimated net worth according to Forbes magazine in October 2019 of USD 7.8 billion which is about VND 181 trillion (VND=Vietnamese Dong).

A closeup of a pretty attractive looking Vinfast e-scooter.
A closeup of a pretty attractive looking Vinfast e-scooter.

Sidewalk scooter repair and junk yards

This like many shops spills over onto the sidewalk with their business.
This like many shops spills over onto the sidewalk with their business.
Sometimes the business completely takes over the sidewalk...
Sometimes the business completely takes over the sidewalk…

Son Tra Night Market

Overview of the night market area.
Overview of the night market area.

Night markets are common and popular all over South East Asia. Part of the attraction is of course the food, and when another thing that adds to the attractiveness is the fact that nighttime is a cooler time that brings some respite from the sweltering daytime temperatures that are getting more and more common.

Entrance to the night market.
Entrance to the night market.
One of the food stands.
One of the food stands.
Children's ride area.
Children’s ride area.
One of the food stands.
One of the food stands.
A majority of the food offerings are seafood, fished locally.
A majority of the food offerings are seafood, fished locally.
One of the seating areas.
One of the seating areas.

Public Art

Birds in a tree.
Birds in a tree.

Along the Han river walkway there are many public art sculptures to enjoy. Art is well supported by the local and country government so public art and museums are plentiful throughout the country. I think art is part of what makes a country great and Vietnam has a great thriving arts community.

More of an abstract piece.
More of an abstract piece.
A Marble female figure.
A Marble female figure.
Beautifully carved Eagle and a serpent.
Beautifully carved Eagle and a serpent.
Abstract kissing couple.
Abstract kissing couple.
Female with Lotus flowers.
Female with Lotus flowers.
Female face.
Female face.

Saigon’s Independence Palace and the fall of Saigon

Saigon’s Independence Palace was built on the site of the older Norodom Palace. The Norodom Palace was built by the Governor of  the French colony Cochinchina and the Palace was finished in 1873. After the French surrendered to the Viet Minh in 1954 and agreed to withdraw its troops from Vietnam, the country was divided along the 17:th parallel into the Communist North Vietnam and anti-Communist South Vietnam. In 1955, a vote based on the principles of universal suffrage was held in both North and South Vietnam to establish a unified Vietnamese government. This vote saw the side supported by the Prime Minister of South Vietnam Ngô Đình Diệm as the winning side. Ngô Đình Diệm then established the new unified country of the Republic of Vietnam and proclaimed himself Prime Minister. The Norodom Palace was renamed “Independence Palace” to mark this event.

 Independence Palace front gate.
Independence Palace front gate

In 1962, two renegade pilots that were supposed to go on a mission against the Viet Cong, rebelled and flew against the Norodom Palace dropping bombs on it. During the bombing so much of the Palace was destroyed that repairing the old Palace was not an option. Instead the Palace was rebuilt with a design by famed Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ.

Palace construction photo from the Palace Museum (Copyright Independence Palace Museum).
Palace construction photo from the Palace Museum (Copyright Independence Palace Museum).

President Ngô Đình Diệm and his family escaped this assassination attempt, and moved into the Gia Long Palace (this building is now the Ho Chi MMinh City Museum) while a new Palace was built on the site of the old Norodom Palace.

President Ngô Đình Diệm never had the opportunity to see the new Palace finished since a later attempt at his life during a coup d’etat in 1963 was successful and the President was assassinated. The new Palace stood ready in 1966 and the General that led the the coup, General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, who was now in a leadership position of the military juntas “National Leadership Committee” inaugurated the Palace on October 31 1966.

The circles in the picture in front of the Huey represents where the two bombs dropped on the Palace April 8 1975 hit the helipad.
The circles in the picture in front of the Huey represents where the two bombs dropped on the Palace April 8 1975 hit the helipad.

On April 8 1975 Nguyễn Thanh Trung, a South Vietnamese Air Force Pilot and defector supporting the North Vietnamese Communist regime, stole an F5-E fighter jet and bombed the Palace. This attempt was not successful and caused little damage and no casualties

This tells the story of the April 8 1972 bombing.
This tells the story of the April 8 1972 bombing.
A piece from the April 1975 Palace bombing sits by the marker for where one bomb hit the helipad. It has been signed by the renegade pilot Nguyễn Thanh Trung.
A piece from the April 1975 Palace bombing sits by the marker for where one bomb hit the helipad. It has been signed by the renegade pilot Nguyễn Thanh Trung.
Closeup of the autographed shrapnel.
Closeup of the autographed shrapnel.
This is the North Vietnamese tank that crashed through the Palace gates on April 30 1975 marking the end of the Vietnam war.
This is the North Vietnamese tank that crashed through the Palace gates on April 30 1975 marking the end of the Vietnam war.

General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was the last person to live in the palace. He lived and worked there until the fall of Saigon on April 30 1975. The dramatic ending to the war came later in the spring of ’75 when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gate of the Palace thus, marking the end of the Vietnam war.

A Huey always sat at the ready on the rooftop of the Palace.
The Huey on the helipad on the roof of the Palace.

April 30 1975 The President of South Vietnam fled the Palace and Saigon on a Huey that was always sitting at the ready on the rooftop of the Palace. Similar scenarios played out at the US Embassy where Helicopters were flying US supporting South Vietnamese personnel out of Vietnam, and as a first step on the way to the US, onto a US Carrier in The South China Sea.

A look at the mid mod ticket office building.
A look at the mid mod ticket office building.

After the fall of Saigon in 1975 the Palace was renamed Independence Palace and it is now a popular museum and a Saigon landmark.

The line to the ticket office for Palace entry ticket.
The line to the ticket office for Palace entry ticket.
Inside the ticket office for the Independence Palace (Vn - Dinh Hoc Lap) entry tickets.
Inside the ticket office for the Independence Palace (Vn – Dinh Hoc Lap) entry tickets.
Front entrance to the Palace.
Front entrance to the Palace.
A view from the second story balcony towards the front gate and the street named after a 13:th century government official - Han Thuyen.
A view from the second story balcony towards the front gate and the street named after a 13:th century government official – Han Thuyen.
A nice Bonsai arrangement by the side entrance to the Palace.
A nice Bonsai arrangement by the side entrance to the Palace.
The Palace side entrance.
The Palace side entrance.
A side view of the trees flanking the side entrance.
A side view of the trees flanking the side entrance.
Right outside of the Presidents office is this room, that could be looked at as a sort of "Situation room".
Right outside of the Presidents office is this room, that could be looked at as a sort of “Situation room”.

Outside the President’s office in the Palace is a room that was intended for meetings with the cabinet in situations that needed a quick response. A more secure room is also located in the “Bunker” in the basement of the Palace.

President's office.
The President’s office.
The President's office sitting area
The President’s office sitting area.
A panoramic shot of the Library.
A panoramic shot of the Library.
This is a formal reception room where  the President would, for instance, receive foreign diplomats that had been assigned to represent their countries in Vietnam.
This is a formal reception room where the President would, for instance, receive foreign diplomats that had been assigned to represent their countries in Vietnam.
Reception room.
Reception room.
Reception room.
Reception room.

The Palace has numerous official rooms for the President to host visiting dignitaries and to represent the country in.

Panoramic view of the game room, with a bar on one end.
Panoramic view of the game room, with a bar on one end.
A closer look at the bar area of the game room, with the mid century furnishings.
A closer look at the bar area of the game room, with the mid century furnishings.

Architecturally the design of the Palace and it’s furniture makes me wonder if the architect may have been influenced by the Finnish master Alvar Aalto who was very active and well known internationally at this time. The openness and above all the light playing such a big part of the design certainly invoke those thoughts.

An architectural detail of the exterior of the Palace, an effective privacy screen that lets light through.
An architectural detail of the exterior of the Palace, an effective privacy screen that lets light through.
A corridor in the Palace.
A corridor in the Palace.
A Grand Piano in one of the rooms, ready for concerto or dance maybe.
A Grand Piano in one of the rooms, ready for concerto or dance maybe.
A nice Pine forest adorns the wall behind the Grand Piano.
A nice Pine forest adorns the wall behind the Grand Piano.

On the opposite end of the Palace from the President’s office is the office of the Vice President.

The Vice President's office.
The Vice President’s office.
A view of the sitting area of the VP office with a picture of the wife of 	Nguyễn Lương Bằng, the last VP to occupy the office.
A view of the sitting area of the VP office with a picture of the wife of Nguyễn Lương Bằng, the last VP to occupy the office.

The Dragon Rug is located in a hallway between the official part of the Palace and the Residential wing where the President and his family lived. The old Norodom Palace was, according to fengshui, built on the Dragon’s head and the old Palace was sometimes referred to as “The Dragon’s Head Palace”.

Dragon Rug made in Hong Kong 1973.
Dragon Rug made in Hong Kong 1973.

The private area of the Palace holds bedrooms, dining, entertainment rooms and guest rooms.

The private residence of the President in the Palace has a miniature bonsai landscape in the central courtyard.
The private residence of the President in the Palace has a miniature bonsai landscape in the central courtyard.
Opposite side of the landscape.
Opposite side of the landscape.
Dining room.
Panoramic view of the dining room.
Panoramic view of the dining room.
A display of items gifted to the President by foreign dignitaries.
A display of items gifted to the President by foreign dignitaries.
Some mementos of important events in the countries recent history.
Some mementos of important events in the countries recent history.
Living room.
Living room.
An office in the private wing.
An office in the private wing.
Movie theater.
Movie theater.
A bedroom in the private section.
A bedroom in the private section.
The rooftop holds an entertainment area with a bar and a grand piano for entertainment.
The rooftop holds an entertainment area with a bar and a grand piano for entertainment.
Communication equipment antennas on top of the roof.
Communication equipment antennas on top of the roof.
On the helipad next to the rooftop hut the Huey sits at the ready (well it used to be at the ready back in '75).
On the helipad next to the rooftop hut the Huey sits at the ready (well it used to be at the ready back in ’75).
A view from the rooftop.
A view from the rooftop.

The first floor of the Palace has some bigger ballroom style rooms for larger functions, and the all important kitchen is also located here.

Architectural detail of the door leading to the stairwell .
Architectural detail of the door leading to the stairwell .
Elevator mid century styling of door.
Elevator mid century styling of door.
Stairwell
Stairwell
The Palace kitchen that was equipped to feed many people during the big events as well as the President and family and staff on a daily basis.
The Palace kitchen that was equipped to feed many people during the big events as well as the President, family and staff on a daily basis.
The Major Whip of the kitchen...
The Major Whip of the kitchen…
Big wats for boiling whatever needed boiling.
Big wats for boiling whatever needed boiling.

The basement holds a couple of cars that has been put on display for the tourists that come to visit the Palace nowadays.

A Jeep M152n used by the last President of South Vietnam to ride to a radio station to broadcast the surrender speech.
A Jeep M152 used by the last President of South Vietnam to ride to a radio station to broadcast the surrender speech.
This Mercedes Benz 200 was also frequently used by the South Vietnamese President.
This Mercedes Benz 200 was also frequently used by the South Vietnamese President.

Bunkers and war rooms are located underneath the Palace.

Entrance to the war rooms in the bunker.
Entrance to the war rooms in the bunker.
Long corridors are running the length of the Palace and numerous offices, communication rooms and bunk rooms are located along these corridors.
Long corridors are running the length of the Palace and numerous offices, communication rooms and bunk rooms are located along these corridors.
One of the many offices.
One of the many offices.
Here is one of the communication rooms - the radio room.
Here is one of the communication rooms – the radio room.
A bunk room.
A bunk room.
A top secret list of troop sizes of American units at different locations.
A top secret list of troop sizes of American units at different locations.
I thought this might be a fitting ending picture with the US Air Force National marking X-ed over on the tail of the Huey 445.
I thought this might be a fitting ending picture with the US Air Force National marking X-ed over on the tail of the Huey 445.

Vietnamese waterfalls

One of the lakes up in the mountains around Da Lat.

Waterfalls are not only beautiful, but they can also produce hydroelectric power if dams with a generating plant to produce electricity are built in the river. Environmentally this may be a sensitive issue, but as a whole it may be part of the solution.

Here is a view of the valley where Thac Prenn, the Prenn waterfall is located in the Da Lat area of the Lam Dong province.
Here is a view of the valley where Thac Prenn, the Prenn waterfall is located in the Da Lat area of the Lam Dong province.

In Vietnam, hydroelectric power supplies as much as 41.55% of the total electricity production in the country (World Bank compiled number). In comparison, neighboring Thailand only produces about 7% according to Wikipedia.

A statue of a golden warrior with a cross bow.
A statue of a golden warrior with a cross bow.
A pond surrounded by pines on the way to the Prenn falls.
A pond surrounded by pines on the way to the Prenn falls.

Thac Prenn

Thac Prenn – the Prenn waterfall.
Thac Prenn.
Thac Prenn.
A closer look at Thac Prenn.
A closer look at Thac Prenn.
Below the fall, swirling waters.
Below the fall, swirling waters.
Another way water is falling... (A copy of the famous Belgian "Manikin Pis".)
Another way water is falling… (A copy of the famous Belgian “Manikin Pis”.)

Thac Pongour

Thac Pongour - Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour – Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour - Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour – Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour - Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour – Pongour falls.
Thac Pongour
Thac Pongour

Coffe growing

Coffee is grown extensively in this mountainous region of Vietnam to fuel the thirst for beans to roast and supply to the numerous Coffee houses in todays Vietnam. Coffee and coffee houses are very popular. Cong Caphe is one of the most popular ones. In Saigon coffee houses can be found in apartments, like Coffee Apartment. Directions here if you would like to check it out.

Coffee beans are being dried outside of many homes in the area, front lawns, sideboards are all filled with drying beans.
Coffee beans are being dried outside of many homes in the area, front lawns, sideboards are all filled with drying beans.

Thac Voi

Entrance to Thac Voi - Elephant falls
Entrance to Thac Voi – Elephant falls
Sign at Thac Voi - Elephant falls
Sign at Thac Voi – Elephant falls
Thac Voi - Elephant falls
Thac Voi – Elephant falls
Thac Voi in all its beauty.
Thac Voi in all its beauty.
Thac Voi
Thac Voi
It is a steep climb down to "get to the bottom" of the falls - and even trickier to get back up
It is a steep climb down to “get to the bottom” of the falls – and even trickier to get back up.
The big female Buddha sits above the falls at the Pagoda.
The big female Buddha sits above the falls at the Pagoda.
Here is a "companion" figure to the big Buddha.
Here is a “companion” figure to the big Buddha.
Sun creating a halo around the head of the Buddha.
Sun creating a halo around the head of the Buddha.
A view of the falls and the valley.
A view of the falls and the valley.

Video of the Elephant Falls – Thac Voi.

The valley is filled with greenhouses and a hugh amount of flowers and vegetables are grown in the area.
The valley is filled with greenhouses and a hugh amount of flowers and vegetables are grown in the area.
A smiling Buddha at the waterfall.
A smiling Buddha at the waterfall.

Da Lat Vietnam – City of flowers

Beautiful annual flower show in Da Lat Vietnam.

Coming into the DLI airport which is located in the valley and is about 45 minutes up a 2-lane twisty mountain road with many scooters, buses and cars.
Coming into the Da Lat (DLI) airport which is located in the valley and is about 45 minutes up a 2-lane twisty mountain road with many scooters, buses and cars.

Da Lat is located in the Highlands of Central South Vietnam. It was developed by the French as a resort in the early 1900’s and some features of a French Alp village are still present. Da Lat has a population of around 406,000 people (2015 number). It is sitting at a height over the sea of 1,500 meters. Da Lat is known as the “City of eternal spring”because of the temperate climate zone it is in.

A view of Da Lat.
A view of Da Lat.
A view of the Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat by the entrance to Flower Park.
A view of the Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat by the entrance to Flower Park.

Dalat Flower Park hosts the Da Lat flower show every year in December.

Flower Park entrance.
Flower Park entrance.
Fountain by the entrance too Flower Park.
Fountain by the entrance to Flower Park.
er bed by the entrance.
Flower bed by the entrance.

The first section of Flower Park contains Orchids, many many beautiful Orchids.

A Tulip among the Orchids.
A Tulip among the Orchids.
Bird of Paradise flower.
Bird of Paradise flower.
A look back towards the entrance with the fountain lined with the Orchid stalls.
A look back towards the entrance with the fountain lined with the Orchid stalls.
The pond in Flower Park.
The pond in Flower Park.

Chateau Dalat is the local winemaker in the area, they sponsor the Flower Garden and get some advertising in return.

Bonsai is Japanese and means “Tray planting”. The Japanese art of Bonsai originated from the Chinese practice of creating miniature landscapes, similar miniature landscape creations are also popular in Vietnam. The Japanese Bonsai is more than thousand years old. The small trees are trained painstakingly and trimmed to mimic the features of a full size tree.

Another attraction at the Flower Park, with a mane and a tail...
Another attraction at the Flower Park, with a mane and a tail…

Orchids take up a big part of Flower Park, but there is room for some other flowers as well. Roses, Irises, tulips and more…

A Poppy snuck in among the Orchids...
A Poppy snuck in among the Orchids…

And, finally a look at a desert landscape.

To conclude we look at a desert landscape.
To conclude we look at a desert landscape.