Thursday, 4 April 2013

Developing Danang

Surrounded by a pack of motorbikes at an intersection in Danang
I'm now in central Vietnam, about 50km away from Danang.

Last week Dragonair started direct flights from Hong Kong to Danang and it's been interesting to watch the evolution of this tourist destination that was formerly known as China Beach to American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

I first came to Danang 15 years ago when one of the first international resorts there opened, called the Furama Resort Danang.

Since then that strip has expanded to include many other resort properties, but when I came back again almost three years ago, there were many half-built buildings, because these projects ran out of money thanks to the financial crisis in 2009.

A sign promoting a development that has yet to come
In the last few years some of those outstanding construction projects have been completed, while others are still like skeletons standing on an otherwise stunning beach front property.

Two years ago Danang opened its new airport -- the previous one was basically like a warehouse and passengers had to deplane by walking down the stairs onto the tarmac before entering the terminal.

We heard that when the new airport opened, no one knew about it. And it was only when they got to the old airport did they know there was a new one. Luckily it was next door, but people had to schlep their luggage to the new building.

The resort that I'm at now, is about 50 minutes from Danang; its a large complex that includes an 18-hole golf course designed by Nick Faldo, and so acquiring 250 hectares means having to get land farther away from Danang.

A traditional Vietnamese fishing village
All the roads leading to this resort are relatively new, including a tunnel through a mountain that is 6.28km long. It can take a while to get through the tunnel not only because of the distance, but also it's only one lane going each way and vehicles are not allowed to pass the one in front. The speed limit is also only 50km...

So the pace in Vietnam is much slower than Hong Kong, but things are definitely happening here... as long as you're patient...

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