On the way to the airport in Da Nang we made a stop at the Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn). This cluster of five limestone cliffs rises dramatically from the flatlands along the coast and is now surrounded by sprawling suburbs, inchoate and ramshackle. Piles of rubble in the yards are not the scars of a recent shelling, but surplus marble that is now imported from quarries in Quang Nam Province and transformed in the local factories into gaudy, ethno-kitsch monoliths in the shape of Buddhas or Fire-Breathing Dragons.
Xa Loi Tower.
We marched around one of the mountains, enjoying the sea breeze blowing through the conifers while partaking in activities like spying on monks, climbing up countless steps, and stumbling through crepuscular cave systems.
Huyen Khong Cave. Once filled with insurmountable piles of jewels and gold guarded jealously by a giant green serpent. Now, the stomping grounds of clueless, perspiring tourists.