Da Nang is indeed surrounded by incredible natural treasures, with some more tamed than others. During our time in Da Nang, we visited several popular sites and we can say Son Tra Peninsula is a must-visit when in Da Nang. As it turned out, the saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” was spot on for our expedition around the Son Tra Peninsula. Now please join us on the picturesque journey and enjoy the tale.
Early in the morning we got up and refiled all of our water bottles before topping up the fuel tank and our stomachs. Then we followed the map in a direction of the supposed “Fairies’ Landing place” or playground. Of course, we didn’t see any fairies, but we saw plenty of cinematic views and old trees. We particularly enjoyed the winding coastal road with many stops from where it was possible to cherish the changing views. At one stop we could see the green Son Tra Peninsula ahead and the Da Nang city at the back while standing on a tall cliff with an empty beach way down below our feet.
The next stop was at the place where the road turns almost backward and there, we were blown away by the speed some bikers passed us. Our jaws dropped even further when we saw a trucker on the side of the road with a cracked tire only a little further up the road. This gave us even greater confirmation that we need to be cautiously present in a moment. Also, we needed to pinch ourselves many times to confirm this escape in nature was a reality and not a beautiful dream.
The only strange thing throughout the entire trip was the silence. Whenever we stopped, we were expecting birds to sing, especially because the Son Tra peninsula is famous for its unique primeval forest. Admittingly, monkeys are the stars on all posters but we haven’t seen any of them either. At times we joked that birds are on their singing lessons in Hanoi. Most likely they are just sitting in a cage in some alley. Probably, in the full sun. Sad but true for so many animals, and we fear this is not an exaggeration in any case.
Silence spoke especially loud at the giant Banyan tree, which is over 800 years old. Despite that, the tree brings joy to every visitor and grounds everyone with countless pillars. These pillars are supporting the giant tree crown and we could sit for days under it and just enjoy the magical nature. Who knows what stories this tree is telling and what wisdom it holds?
Small peninsula presents another giant that people worship, the Lady Buddha AKA the Goddess of Mercy. 67-meters tall statue is standing at the entrance of the Linh Ung Pagoda. This holly site is from the 18th century and was just renovated in 2010. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists who admire the balance between old and new. Lady Buddha statue is also a 17-floor temple, which local people call “Buddha in Buddha”, after all, it houses 27 Buddha statues to honor. The holly site has many extraordinary features including a neat bonsai garden and countless statues.
As we proceed with our journey, we came upon another holly site at a crossroad. To be honest, we don’t exactly know what that was that about, but it evoked a little contradiction inside us. You see, in the middle of pristine nature, we found a pile of something that can also be called toxic waste. Traditional offerings come from a different world where food is left for the Gods to enjoy. In contrast to the present, food wrapped in plastic and packaging is left in nature where they do not belong.
It is funny how we love something and take part in its destruction at the same time. Indeed, it is more sad than funny. However, when we are presented with a situation one can just cry or laugh about, we choose to laugh. In the meantime, we appreciate the little things. Something like peeing on the top of a cliff with a spectacular view is a must-do whenever possible. At the top of the Son Tra peninsula, this ordinary act brought a flock of butterflies to a party. What a joy!
In such a stunning place, one can forget about time and distance. We definitely didn’t consider the fuel tank. Therefore, the silence was our companion also when we were slowly driving down the hill. Before we reached the foothills of the Son Tra mountain, we were part of the cows’ herd. In their company, we arrived at the Man Thai fishing village, where we got what we desperately needed for about a 10 km (6 miles) drive back to Da Nang city.
It took us a while to visit Son Tra Peninsula but in a day our appreciation for it grew enormously. For days we were eyeing the peninsula from different angles inside Da Nang. From far it was promising us an adventure of a lifetime and we got more than we can explain. A simple drive opened Pandora’s box of people’s attitudes towards nature. On one side we have a city with a population of well over a million, while on the other we have protected green spaces. Nature may as well be protected, but protection on paper doesn’t guarantee actual protection in real life. However, we warmly recommend a trip to Son Tra Peninsula and after that, some lovely dinner is on spot. Try Nén Restaurant and complete this lovely day.