Thursday, February 9, 2017


                                                                    (ocean cloud indeed)

Driving (by which I mean being driven) from Da Nang to Hue adds several new dimensions to the already insane Vietnamese traffic. The route takes you over the Hai Van (Ocean Cloud) mountain pass renowned not only for being incredible beautiful but also for being incredibly dangerous. The former I'd been told about.

You set out happily enough leaving booming Da Nang behind, with its impressive roadside and beach side gardens. Median strip planting in Vietnam is generally a big thing and even small towns have impressive displays belying some of their less glamorous roadside features.

There it was, without knowing it a the time.

Now there weren't the usual hazards of cows, water buffalo, chickens, and dogs, nah, not a problem there, but instead what lay ahead were you-thought-you-knew-what-bad-ones-were-but-didn't zigzags, s-bends, u-bends, completely blind corners, and wait for it - mountain goats. Not just regular mountain goats on a mountain mountain goats, but mountain goats wandering around the road mountain goats.

Oh, and how could I forget -- scooters, those kamikaze scooters, and buses, and then the higher you went, scooters became bunches of scooters, scooters and riders stopping everywhere and anywhere the view was good for selfies and the like. Or not.

I tried the best way of dealing with all this - easy - don't look forward! Just look sideways; enjoy the view. Like it's the last thing you'll ever see. It's impossible. It's compelling. You just can't stop watching the road. 

Finally you make the peak and pull over into a large rest stop, crossing and scattering the descending scooters like the fox in a hen house. An older man asks where you're from and jumps away pretending to be a kangaroo, laughing to himself. The toilets are clean. The view is stunning. And the name fits - Ocean Cloud Pass.

The descent is less scary. We're going down and the opposite traffic coming up is obviously less erratic. A train closes the road for a few minutes

before we finally reach bottom and slip onto a side road alongside a tranquil lagoon shimmering in the afternoon sun

(fishing platforms on the lagoon)

for a late lunch of water, coffee with condensed milk and fried rice, before heading into Hue, the one great national capital.

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