Friday, August 17, 2012
Once, with two wheels and some free time, I had the chance to see the stunning Hai Van Pass.The sun was hot, but the sky, ocean, and road were all clear, providing amazing views for photographers. The road climbs into the east side of Bach Ma National Park, overlooking Danang and Lang Co bays, spilling out into the East Sea. The winding road, mountain switchbacks (sometimes 180 degrees), and steep grades call for some serious focus on driving, but it’s all worth the trek.
I left Danang in the morning and started the ascent into the mountainous pass. Covered from head to toe from the scorching summer sun, I wondered if now was the best time of year to be making the journey. But as I ascended into the mountains, climbing higher and higher into the pass, the air turned cooler and cleaner, I then pulled off at a giant rock, climbed atop and looked out over the water. Danang city appears more beautiful than ever in the distance. It was worlds away from the hustle and bustle down below (though I did get coerced into having a café sua đa (iced milk coffee) after my rock climb.
As I went higher into the mountains, the road turned steeper and sharper with the sun rays growing stronger to make travelers stay and find solace in the shade of roadside trees. As the pass flattened out, I saw a string of restaurants and cafes surrounding by vendors and hawkers and decided to run to the other side of the mountain on Lang Co beach. Enjoying the downgrades, I let my motorbike do most of the work, and soaked in the amazing scenery stretching as far as to the horizon. Finally when I reached Lang Co beach there was nobody in sight on a white sandy oasis.
After spending there, I rode back up to the pass for another descent. From the top to the Danang side of the pass, my luck ran dry and my rear tire went flat. Amazingly, out of the blue, this could have happened anywhere. I found myself sipping cafe sua da as a roadside hut while waiting for a man with a tire repair kit to patch my worn inner tube. I had no problem with a hefty bill as I could never let a flat tire ruin my amazing day trip. Cruising down the mountain with the sun shining over my shoulders, I saw Danang coming into view with the Lady Buddha and Thuan Phuoc bridge glowing off in the distance to welcome me back from my amazing travel.
Whether you are going to see Hue or Danang, My Khe or Lang Co beach, or any scenery in the central Vietnam, a cruise along the Hai Van Pass is an unforgettable memory.