New Horizons – Forty years after the war’s end, Danang displays newfound luxury and local charm
E“ very Marine in 1 Corps got to spend a few days at China Beach at least once during their 13-month tours,”writes journalist Michael Herr in his 1977 book Dispatches, a visceral, personal account of the Vietnam War.
“It was a place where they could go swimming or surfing, get drunk, get stoned, get laid, get straight, groove in the scivvie houses, rent sailboats or just sleep.”
It was on the sandy shores of Danang that 50 years ago the first US ground troops arrived at the start of the long, bloody conflict, striding from their boats through the warm waters of the bay, located midway down Vietnam’s S-shaped coastline.
You only have to read Dispatches to get a sense of just how senseless the ensuing ten-year war was, one in which 58,000 US soldiers were killed, and three million Vietnamese perished, twothirds of them civilians.
Against this background, you can appreciate how rapidly the country has rebuilt itself, and the incredible capacity of the local people for forgiveness.
These days, Danang is a thriving port city of over one million people. Down by the surf, fishermen mend their circular basket boats, just as they have always done, but all along the seafront promenade, glitzy karaoke bars, golf courses and luxury hotels are arriving at an remarkable pace.
Among local brands such as the luxurious Naman Retreat and Fusion Maia, there’s a Pullman and a Hyatt Regency. A Sheraton will open in 2018.