Feeling at home in Da Nang, Viet Nam

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People often ask me “what’s [wherever the hell we are] like?” But I can’t answer the question properly, because it assumes a false homogeneity.

Take Da Nang, Vietnam, a quickly growing city on the coast of Vietnam. Describing the city is impossible, as changes from block to block are vast! One neighborhood is very much a traditional Vietnamese village, with people cooking in outdoor kitchens and using sidewalks as their dining rooms. On the next street over there’s a 12-story high-rise, with accommodations that wouldn’t look out of place in any other modern city around the world. On the beach, there’s a huge all-inclusive resorts that shares a border with a small hotel, which in turn shares a border with three or four houses nestled together.

There’s a great little Spanish tapas bar (managed by a Catalan, no less) across the street from a french bakery that’s catty-corner to a late-night hot spot with trappings of Jamaica, England, and Vietnam mixed together in a seamless fashion. And there’s a place where you can rent surfboards just down the road. Oh, and there’s shack that houses a tailor out front, too.

That’s Vietnam. But it’s not uniquely Vietnam, because it’s been every other large city I’ve visited. Metro areas = melting pots. Does it erode cultural heritage? I suppose that depends on your own perspective. For me, it gives each place — each place within each place — it’s own cultural heritage that changes over time. That’s not a bad thing. That’s the progression of time and the way things work. Homeostasis is an artificial construct. Just like assumed homogeneity. We’re not ants or bees. We’re not part of a larger collective. We’re people, and we change the universe around us. And not always in a common or consistent way. Which is what makes us so stinking awesome — and sometimes awful — as a species.

So what’s Da Nang like? It’s like a place I could call home, embracing all the weirdness of the world, that just happens to have great pho. You should visit and see what it holds for you.

 

Source: The Opportunistic Traveler

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  • Well said. It’s hard to describe Vietnam without running out of superlatives. I’ve taken to just saying “You have to see it for yourself.”