Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Daytripping: Marble Mountains

Just a short scooter ride through town, over the bridge and then along the flat road to the coast lies the Marble Mountains. The impressive 5 marble and limeston hill peaks, that resembles a dragon's claw, as if its claw was turned up and holding a stone, jetting out of nowhere in the sand next to the ocean. It's hard to miss. As we approached the mountains we could see temples and large white buddhas carved into the hillside.Thankfully it was a cloudy, almost a cold afternoon, otherwise the trek up the stairs into the cave temples would have been exhausting.We didn't grab a map at the entrance and the large map at the base didn't describe whether the temples were cave temples or traditional temples. So we just wandered around and tried to head for the cave temples before it got dark.The cave temple was dimly lit, but once down the dark steps and inside the cave, an oculus lit up the interior showcasing smaller temple buildings and dieties alters carved right out of the marble hillside.We soon found the cave temples too dark to go into and decided to stick to the outside temples and sights.We made it to the viewing area that overlooked the valley and the ocean below, which we could see through the marble archways - pretty incredible.By the time we reached the viewing platform we were pretty thirsty. And being Vietnam, you simply think of something and bam! It's right in front of you before you know it!

We did notice that the Marble Mountains had much fewer beggers and vendors milling around the site, unlike the large white buddha in Nha Trang or the somber temples in Hue. Maybe it was the time of day or it being Tet New Years, we still managed to find a delicious Wonder Farm gourd drink that tasted EXACTLY like carmel popcorn. Seriously - Carmel Popcorn.We wandered around finding temples and interesting archeways and buildings tucked into the mountains.The buildings at the Marble Mountains were extremely ornate and so peaceful and interesting we could have wandered around there all day.Being the Marble Mountains there were also wonderful stone marble features.Our favorites were the white marble buddhas. So much so that we bought a few marble statues for ourselves from the very aggressive vendors at the entrance. We wish we could have gotten this one.The Marble Mountains were definitely something we had wanted to visit many times before and it was as beautiful as we had imagined.

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