Photo by Christian Berg
Of course I am! I’m proud of my city in so many ways. What I’m proud of is not only the speed of growth and development. What I’m most proud of is that there are things that are really Da Nang, that only Da Nang people have and we preserve it.
It’s really a small community, like a village. Some people might find it annoying, as everyone knows each other. But at the same time it also feels very friendly, in a homey kind of way. You always find a way to have a conversation as people here are very friendly.
We say that in the North, they eat more dishes with soup. It’s tasty, but the taste is really light. In the South, everything goes with sauce, and the taste is mainly sweet. In the centre, we share a little bit from Saigon, a little bit from Hanoi, but the flavours here are strong. Our fish sauce, shrimp sauce, and tofu sauce is all fermented and so the smell is really strong.
In Da Nang the speciality dish is mì quảng, which translates to Quang noodles. "Quang' is the central region, 'mi' are the noodles, which look almost like pasta. You eat them with fresh vegetables and a thick sauce, with shrimp, pork, and sometimes chicken. The special thing is the sauce. Mix it all together and eat. Put some herbs inside and the whole taste is different.
For Vietnamese cafes, it’s not just tasting the coffee: it’s in the vibe, in the crowd, in the scene, watching people passing by. My friend and I often go to a cafe on 16A Nguyen Chi Thanh st. That place is really local. It’s just street coffee but they have a great sound system, and they play all the old songs from the golden times. Sometimes, people come to listen to the songs and remember the old times.
You always find a way to have a conversation as people here are very friendly.
Another one that’s always crowded is Long Café. The coffee is the best, and early in the morning when you pass by the smell of the coffee is strong and good. There’s one woman, she always dresses like a queen and comes with her husband. She’s always sparkling with hair clips, jewellery and jade. She’s there every morning and wears the latest fashions. She must be 60 or so, but she looks like a Vietnamese diva or model.
In the morning, I go to a coffee shop with my family and friends. It’s Sunday so you can spend hours having a coffee and gossiping with friends. For lunchtime, I would go to the beach and relax at a nice restaurant, swim, eat some seafood. Sometimes I go to a waterfall, camping from lunch until sunset.
The term ‘di nhau’ I think must be our national anthem in Da Nang. You go to a nice restaurant, eat a lot of food, drink a lot of beer, and talk all day long. We have so many good seafood restaurants here because the seafood is so fresh.
The best way to see Da Nang is to not only do touristy stuff. Walk on the streets, see families, the vendors, sit down and have a coffee. Find a local old lady, selling bread or something. Ask her anything and she will always find a way to communicate with you. Eat a banh mi and have a coffee right next to her. It truly feels like you’re a part of it.
Another thing that’s typically Da Nang, is to go to the beach at 4:30am! I know it’s early, but stay out or wake up and go. It’s still dark, but beautiful. So many local people go there, exercise, and bathe. It’s so typical of people in Da Nang to start their day on the beach. It’s really something to see and experience.
I’ll be honest: I love my city and there are so many exciting things to do. For me, I love to dance, so the perfect night out is a dancing event at a bar by the beach.
It’s nice because you see yourself growing, and my growth happened along with the city. Especially the last decade, it’s been growing and blooming very fast. It’s totally changed, in a different and exciting way. Da Nang is home, and at the same time, we keep growing together.
To really feel Da Nang you really need to open your heart and you see the personality and the charm that my city has. It’s right there, throughout all the growth, all the nationalities that pass by, we still have some things that are just ours.