A sweet stone gate leading to some of the more ornate pagodas.
A sweet view of one of the Marble Mountains from up on top.
Another great view of the neighboring Marble Mountains with the city of Da Nang sprawling beneath.
One of the coolest Pagodas on the mountain. Tourists are told to rub the belly of the Buddha.
A cool flowering tree through a stone archway. That's the way they roll in Vietnam.
The entrance to the largest cave with the giant Buddha in it.
The entrance to the large Buddha cave.
The large Buddha cave. This is where I just about died from exposure to intense awesome.
A smaller cave with alters / carvings in it.
The entrance to the cave which leads to the top of the mountain.
The cave passage emerges into the top of the mountain. So adventurous! Look at that budding Mrs. Indiana Jones.
A sweet open-air pagoda.
A pagoda carved directly out of the cave wall / floor.
The only thing that would make this cooler is if he was doing rock-horns with that hand.
So yeah... in short, the Marble Mountains (about 15 min. motorbike trip from our house) is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. It's not exactly "hiking" (which, I admit, was kind of disappointing to me when we first arrived), but it is SUPER cool. It's one of those places that makes you really feel the power of what people hold sacred. These statues and pagodas were carved right out of the cave walls and visited by monks for centuries. The feeling of walking into a huge spacious cavern, lit from holes in the rock above, illuminating giant stone carvings and temples... it's pretty awe-inspiring.
Like everywhere else in Vietnam, however, the place is crawling with shop-owners trying to hock their wares to tourists. Eh. Oh well - the poor people around here have to make a buck somehow... We bought some horrendously overpriced marble pendants from some of the locals because they were "hand carved by their family" - then we saw the same pendants at the local market where we live for less than 25% of the price!!! Ha ha ha. Oh well. I hope they enjoyed a good meal on us.
Speaking of not hiking... people don't hike here. Like - AT ALL, as far as I've seen. It's kind of like how they swim in the ocean. The Vietnamese really only swim in the designated "roped off" areas of the ocean where there is a lifeguard watching. I have a theory - and that is that people don't want to risk running into something dangerous... In the ocean there are poisonous jellyfish, and who knows what else. In the mountains I'm sure there are spiders, snakes, and all manner of things that can be bad for your health. Not sure, but that's my theory. Nevertheless, I'd like to do a little more exploring in the mountains / forests around here. There is a lot of beautiful terrain out there and it seems like nobody is enjoying it! Anyway - got a find a way to enjoy it safely... that's the ticket.
Until next time - peace be with you. The Nielsens are off to bed.