Top of the World!

Vietnam’s Marble Mountains in Danang, are a spectacular site, and very much worth the visit.  I arrived after my overnight train, checked email quickly, ate breakfast and hopped in a taxi.  I had on my trusty Birkenstocks, and my phone for photos and money – nothing else.   Usually I have an umbrella, sunscreen, cover up cloth, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, a hand fan and a few other odds and ends in my bag… but, it was a spontaneous decision before the sleepy-s I knew would come hit me.  Get out and explore.

 

Marble Mountains in Vietnamese is Ngũ Hành Sơn which translates to meaning mountains of the five elements.  The elements, you know, the elements:  water, metal, earth, fire and wood.  The marble is slippery, and the limestone karsts in the middle of the city jutting out of the earth are spectacular to behold.  You can take a glass elevator up for a small fee of 15,000Vietnamese Dong, or hike up the 156 steps.  I recommend take the elevator up (there is more climbing to do to get through the caves, so don’t worry – you’ll get your sweat on!) and walk down the stairs.   The entrance fee is 15,000 Dong as well.  They’d like you to buy a map, as well, but I refrained and used the large posted map and snapped an iPhone photo of it. 

The view from the glass elevator prepares and awes you for what’s to come.  Gorgeous vistas of the ocean, city, and other karsts!  Don’t get too engrossed in taking photos and be asked to exit the elevator like I was!  The views are just as beautiful and aren’t encumbered by glass from the outside!  You are greeted almost immediately by a beautiful stone pagoda.  Snap several shots and head on up the mountain.  I recommend trying all the caves, as there are a few and they each are unique and beautiful.  One massive cave has angry looking warrior gods, a serene buddha up in the cave and several shrines which were actively used by local Vietnamese and other Buddhists.  The other cave you had to scramble up through, using metal rings bolting into the cave walls.  Its fun to see the bats in the cave, and fancy yourself a bit of a spelunker.  I got by with my Birks, but runners are recommended for better grip.  The view at the top is amazing.  If you are faint of enclosed spaces, you can walk stairs to the top, no fear.  But, if you’re up for  the challenge, the caving is the way to go.

 

I loved the feeling of creeping and crawling up through the cave, like a small rodent in the expansive cavern.   Using all the muscles in my body, I felt stretched and sweaty, but satisfied.

 

and… the view from the top!  I climbed to the Top of the World!   Totally worth it.

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