Da Nang 2019 Day 5 – Ba Na hills and Dragon bridge

After the long day yesterday, it was hard to get out of bed especially for K. We got most of our stuff ready and had to take some time to wake K up and warm him up before bringing him to the buffet breakfast. (Tried asking if we could bring food back to the room but wasn’t able to)

The restaurant was already crowded but there were still tables available. Got ourselves some food from quite a variety, there were just lots of meat and I thought it was rather a heavy breakfast.

Buffet with multiple rows

We were supposed to meet the driver at 830am but we arrived at 850am instead. Couldn’t tell which was the driver and so just waited on the first floor while mommy and K went to the supermarket to get some stuff. The driver whom was already there actually went back to the car to write my name on a paper and then that’s when we met up.

Started our 45mins journey to Ba Na hills and along the way at 5mins before the arrival, the driver let us buy our tickets at one of the shops along the street, probably to avoid the crowd at the actual place. Even though my email communication with the tour agent mentioned the inclusion of the tickets, the driver wasn’t aware so I just bought the tickets to be sure. The tickets costed 750k per adult and 600k per child.

Tickets to Ba Na hills

After alighting, we went to board the bus that brought us to the entrance, seemed like taxis or cars were not allowed to let passengers alight there. There were multiple cable cars up to Ba Na hills and we just carried on walking to find the shortest queues as hordes of tour groups queued at the Hoi An station, supposedly the one that goes to the famed Golden Bridge made viral by social media. Our station was Suoi Mo station where the queue was still long but at least it was moving.

Entrance to Ba Na hills looked like a fortress
Map of the area
Sign to the cable car station
Popular place with a crowd

We got onto a rather large gondola and what we didn’t expect was the time it took to get to the top. It took very long! From the gondola we could see the sprawling green forest below and at a distance there were the other cable cars line running to the top too. Then we began to enter into the fog which made it looked like we were travelling into the clouds.

Huge gondola to bring passengers up
Nice view of a waterfall
Going into the fog

At the top, we could feel the temperature was already lowered and while I was there with short sleeve and chinos, it wasn’t unbearably cold. Once we exited the station, we entered into what looked like French historical architecture, bringing us into imaginary France!

Panoramic view of the French inspired Ba Na hills

We didn’t walk around but went down to the Fantasy Park first. The park consisted of 3 floors of games and play and seemed like a paradise for children. However, after spending some time there, we realized there actually weren’t many rides available. The few of the exciting ones K was too short for it. We took 2 simulation rides which was quite ok, K spent some time at the indoor playground but didn’t quite enjoy it since there weren’t any other kids around and he’s kinda scared being alone (since parents weren’t allowed either). There were some carnival games but we didn’t play those and the rest were dominated by arcade games which we spent the most time at. These games were all free but didn’t generate any tickets (since there were already free) and thus were just demo games for people to try.

Fantasy land
Giant robotic spider display
Thrill ride through 3 floors
Indoor playground
Kiddy rides
Carnival games
Arcade for kids, theres another section for older people
Dragon display above the bumper cars

After we managed to get K to stop playing, we proceeded to get lunch. We went around and ended up at the wax museum which we found required entrance fees and so we only took a few photos with the transformers before heading to the France. Back at the open area, we saw a certain Thai Market and decided to have Thai food for a change. We ordered Phad Thai and fried rice and 2 cups of drinks and sat at the tables available there. The food didn’t taste good. It cost about 300k in total.

Wax Museum
Transformers with ironman for photos
Thai Market
Our lunch

We thought we would get some cheesecake to supplement and went to the Starbucks there. The place was just too crowded and we tried to look for other bakeries and found one bakery that sold cakes. Bought a coconut choco and one caramelised cake and 2 coffees to eat.

Xmas feels
Area near the Starbucks
View from the top
Cakes as deserts
Inside the cafe
On the outside, the one with the red walls

After that, we took a stroll around and as we headed to the back, we realized that there was a pagoda and a viewing deck. Mommy and K didn’t want to go up and so I made my way up quickly to have a look. Took some photos of the pagoda and the area around and went up the bell tower to shoot an aerial view of the town. The bell tower was an automated one with the log being activated by a machine.

Stairways to the viewpoint
More climbing
Temple at the end
Panoramic view of the village and pagoda from the top

We took the cable car from Morin station to Depay station and saw the long queue for the alpine coaster which we skipped (but most likely the best ride there in Ba Na hills judging from the long queue). Upon reaching the station, we proceeded quickly to the funicular so as to bring us to the Golden Bridge quickly.

Cable car to the bottom section

Disembarked and we were lost as there were no signs pointing to the bridge, only to the garden which we didn’t have time to visit. Asked around and finally found the way there but the entire place was so foggy and we couldn’t get a clear photo of the gigantic hands. Went to queue for the cable car to get back to ground level.

Fogged up Golden Bridge

The journey down was long and so was the queue for the cable as everyone seemed to be returning at the same. Again there were just many tour groups of people and the queues became a massive amount of people trying to get to the cable car. Thankfully we didn’t have to squeeze in the cable car and soon, after passing through some time in the fog in the gondola, we arrived at the bottom of the hill.

On the way back, we got some snacks from the food stall (K had his icecream that he had been asking the whole day but because it was cold up there we didn’t agree to it). Got on the transfer bus and alighted back at the location where we were left off and Whatsapp our driver who managed to find us at the bus station.

On the way back, the driver returned the money to us for the tickets after clarifications with the office. K fell asleep during the 45mins back.

Upon arrival at the hotel, K and mommy rested back in the room while I went alone to the top of the hotel (where there was a bar and swimming pool) on the 25th floor to catch a panoramic view of the beach and Da Nang and it was beautiful! We then spent the evening in front of TV and bath time.

Panoramic view of the My Khe beach
Panoramic view to the west
Panoramic view to the south

Before heading out to dinner, I brought K to the top to see the area lighted up. Took another couple of photos before meeting mommy at the lobby.

Night view at the pool
Lighted up Da Nang West

We walked down the street to a small restaurant called the Red Window for dinner. It was ran by a group of locals who also ran the accommodation and the food served was delicious. The humble people didn’t want to charge us the pancake because it looked too ugly but we couldn’t accept that and paid 350k in all including some tips.

Inside Red Window
Coffee with coconut
Carrot juice
Fried noodles with vegetables

Our Grab taxi picked us up and dropped us all at the Dragon bridge for 48k. I mistakenly asked us to be dropped at the tail and had to walk the entire bridge distance back to the head where it’s supposed to spit fire at 9pm (only on weekends and holidays). We joined the crowd which was already gathered near the head to see this spectacle and at 9pm, the traffic to the bridge was stopped and the show began!

There were 2 rounds of fire spitting and 2 rounds of water spray. Since we were closed we could feel slightly the heat of the fire! Luckily we couldn’t feel the water as the wind blew the other direction and drenched the people standing at the other side of the road! We were too close for a good photo and it would been nicer to stand further away near the bank rather than on the bridge.

Fire breathing (too) up close!
Water spraying

After this short but interesting show, we walked back along the road, passing by a super crowded Son Tra night market and stopped near a building to book another Grab back to the hotel. This ride was 25k and the driver took awhile to arrive, having to negotiate the crazy traffic to get to us.

Crowded Son Tra night market
Da Nang street at night

Our night was spent getting ready for bed which wasn’t difficult considering the long day out.

Slovenia 2016 Day 13 – Ljubljana old town and castle

Got up a little later than usual. It was the second day at Ljubljana and we had only a city tour so we could afford a little more rest in the Airbnb.

We only managed to get out by 1020am, but with the bicycles available to us, we could cover more distance in a shorter time. I strapped baby K onto the baby seat that came with one of the bicycle and out we rode towards old town. As like many modern European cities, there were dedicated lanes for bicycles, made it much safer even if it was on the road. Our first location was famous triple bridge in Ljubljana, and it only took less than 5mins to get there from the apartment. The old town was a little bumpier but it was still easy to ride there. There were many bicycles parking available and so we went to the unused ones and chained up the bicycles, with chains that were provided to us along with the bikes.

Preseren Square
Our bike amongst the line of bicycles

Visited a tourist information counter to get a map and directions to the nearest mobile shop, MobilSI, to get a SIM card for on-the-go data. We visited the Central market to have a look and see if we could get any breakfast but we found Medenjaki instead, the Slovenia version. We tracked back and found a breakfast store named Back Werk just near the bridges and had our breakfast in there. Ordered hot dog bun and spinach pastry together with some coffee and drink, all in for about 10euros.

Backwerk for breakfast
Our breakfast
Triple bridge
Central Market in the background
Fresh fruits on sale
Ljubljanica River

After breakfast, we decided to explore the old town further and strolled towards the funicular.  The medieval buildings lined the streets that we walked and it felt like we were transported back to the days of old. We reached the funicular station, about 10mins stroll and purchased the tickets to go up to the castle perched atop the hill for 20euros. The funicular was crowded as many wanted to visit the castle. We were lucky enough to be at the front of the queue and therefore had a window view as the funicular climbed the steep slope up.

Butcher’s bridge with lover’s locks
Gothic door arch of Ljubljana Cathedral
Another door with scary design
Ljubljana Town Hall
Old town street
Funicular to the castle
Tickets to the funicular and castle

In this Ljubljana castle that dominated the space on top of Castle Hill were various locations where they were exhibits telling the historical stories of castle. We visited the virtual castle that had a film history of the castle and climbed the bell tower which gave a nice panorama of Ljubljana. There was an interesting Chapel prison which had a small display of what used to be a prison. But the restroom required a payment of 50cts to use. We got a chance to take photos with some characters dressed in medieval costumes to enact a time in history.

Castle compounds
Castle tower
Inside the castle bell tower
Castle bells
Stairway to the top
Inside the chapel
Once a prison
Another view of the castle compounds
Panorama from the castle
Another view

After all that walking around and exploring, we decided to rest at one of the cafes Grajska Kavarna and ordered orange juice and Fanta for about 5 euros. Baby K was interested to just sit around and soon we were off to check out the castle corridors when baby K had fun running across while mommy bought a green dragon toy from the souvenir store. Green dragon was significant to Ljubljana’s mythology and history.

Boarding the same funicular, we returned down to ground level and went to the market where we bought lunch from mobile food stalls there. Our takeaways lunch consist of grilled mackerel and cheese Burek. At the same time we also purchased bags of medenjaki initially costing 4 euros per pack, we had them at 1 euro discount for each after mass purchase that we intend to bring back to Singapore as gifts.

Lunch from mobile store

We returned to the apartment where baby K had lunch when I took a quick cycle to Ljubljana town after I saw Mr. Mime (Pokemon Go) on the map (and caught it). When I returned, I had my lunch while mommy tried to get baby K to nap. I got out of the apartment again afterwards to stock up on milk and water from the supermarket. With mifi enabled GPS on phone, I cycled out to the old town but couldn’t find any in the old town. Then I cycled to the dragon bridge and found out that the supermarket had closed down. Tried another one which was outside the old town called Mercator and finally got the water and milk that I needed. The rest for the afternoon was spent lazing in bed while mommy prepared baby K’s dinner.

Green dragon statue
Mercator supermarket
Old church building

By the time baby K woke up from his nap, it was almost 7. We then rode out to the old town in search of a place for dinner. Thought we would do a little shopping after dinner and so we parked near a mall Nama. Walking down the street towards the river, we found out that there was Spar supermarket nearby (which I didn’t see earlier in the afternoon). Mommy wanted to see the dragon bridge so I led them there for some photos before returning to search for a dinner place in the old town.

Ljubjana town at night
Preseren Square at night
Night view of the river

Weather wasn’t on our side as it started to drizzle. We quickly got into a Zlata Ribica restaurant that served really good delicious food. We had mushroom soup, noodles with mushroom and pasta with scampi, for some 45 euros, expected of a pierside restaurant.

Noodles with mushrooms
Pasta with scampi
Zlata Ribica restaurant

After dinner, en-route to our bikes, baby K was attracted to the lights on the ground in Preseren square and hopped on them one after another. The green glow of the castle could be seen from here, giving it a slightly creepy yet mysterious feel about the castle. We continued on and bought pastry for breakfast at Milnar bakery for 2.2 euros, as they were about to close for the day. Nothing much were operating at that time except for the pubs and so ended our tour of this beautiful town, cycling back on our wet bikes.

Reflections of town on its river
Night view of Preseren Square
Milnar bakery

Back at room I bathed baby K and had another free beer. We spent some time on TV (cartoons) before bedtime.