It was in Danang that I abandoned all hope of making it to Kon Tum. The hotel where I was staying could book minibus trips, but the member of staff who handled bookings was out when I tried to book. So I went out for tea. On the way back I checked my emails and learned that someone I knew from home had just lost their new-born baby, so I felt I really had to write to extend my condolences. However, it too me forever to write the card because the waitress in the café where I went to write in peace kept interrupting me, to practise her English. And by the time I’d finished the card and posted it and got back to the hotel, the Kon Tum tour was full.
It felt like the whole of Vietnam (and, because of the dead baby thing, the whole world, in fact) was either conspiring against me, or telling me not to go to Kon Tum, that the trip was jinxed. So I gave in and gave up on the idea.
Instead, I decided to explore Danang. Considering the city was so prominent in the Vietnam War – one of the major airfields/ports, it wasn’t that exciting. The main attraction was probably the Cham Museum, which has possibly the best collection of Cham artefacts in Vietnam, if not the world. The collection was impressive, but the museum building itself was quite rundown, and indeed, I saw a rat scuttling between the exhibits. Great.
I also rented a motorbike and driver to take me to the Marble Mountains. Eons ago the Mountains (five of ’em) were islands but now they’re marooned inland, just outside Danang. They’re riddled with caves, many of which have been turned into pagodas, with little altars inside. One was particularly breathtaking.