The most liveable city in Vietnam – Da Nang
When foreigners arrived in Vietnam over the centuries – Japanese, French, Americans – they landed in Da Nang or Tourane or any of its prior namesakes. And, for good reason.
The city’s oceanfront stretches for endless miles, framed by Song Tra (Monkey Mountain) to the North and Marble Mountain to the south. Nearby are cool hill climes (Ba Na which has one of the longest cable cars in the world) and higher peaks further afield.
I may sound like a Chamber of Commerce or tourism authority shill, but Doi Yeu Da Nang – I love DaNang. It is where the American University in Vietnam (AUV) is due to launch this summer/fall – for real – and where change has happened quickly over the 15 years since I first visited – but in an orderly, quality manner, befitting good urban management and a progressive outlook.
I walk from my modest hotel to the riverfront, through tree-line neighborhoods and daily life, without hassle or hustle found in larger cities in the country (and elsewhere). Coffee shops abound, chic and local restaurants, a night scene or bars and music even and enough expats (not too many yet thankfully!) to bring amenities to the city; along with a thriving middle and upper class of Vietnamese locals and visitors.
The Cathedral in DaNang is alive with its English 10 AM Mass and the energetic Sister Catherine (my late mother’s name I might add – fate) signs me up to teach English as a volunteer; it was impossible to say “no” to her. The Mass was alive with applause for the readers (all women), applause for love, mercy and forgiveness, and applause for Jesus – something I rarely experience in the US. There is a joyfulness to the place and in my celebration I sip a cold, fresh coconut (90 cents) on the river quay and watch the world go by.