Marble Mountains of Da Nang
While in Hoi An, we finally pulled ourselves away from the tailor for a day to take a short motorbike cruise to see the Marble Mountains ~ a cluster of marble and limestone hills dotted with caves and Buddhist sanctuaries in a little city called Da Nang, just up the coast from Hoi An on the East Vietnam Sea.
A steep limestone staircase lead us to the top of Thuy Son Mountain, the most accessible of the five mountains that are named for the five elements ~ Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). The other mountains can be seen from the top, along with expansive views of the sea and Da Nang stretched out below.
Ornate pagodas and Buddhist shrines are scattered along the top, giving the Marble Mountains spiritual significance along with their natural beauty.
The shrines themselves are works of art, along with the detailed stone carvings covering the interiors and exteriors of the caves.
From inside the largest cave, the intricate artistry is illuminated by beams of light breaking through holes in the roof. According to some Vietnamese, these openings were created from US bombs during the war when the cave was being used as a Vietcong hospital. Whether or not that's really how they got there, the holes now make it easier for adventurers to rock climb and abseil through the caves and shine a spotlight on the treasures hidden within.
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