Urbex on the Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

While riding the 21km Hai Van Pass road, through the Truong Son Mountains in Vietnam, I came across two abandoned buildings.

The first was the Hai Van watch tower, a military structure built by the Nguyen dynasty on the top of Hai Van pass in 1862 to protect the imperial city of Hue and supervise activities in Da Nang harbour.

The second building was (I think) a hotel back in the day, tucked away along the pass, along the direction of Da Nang. As I mentioned before, in my post about the Franciscan Ruins in Da Lat, I don’t feel very comfortable going into abandoned buildings alone in Vietnam. It’s actually the only country where I’ve been cautious about exploring alone, mainly in case I run into someone and can’t communicate with them (English-speaking Vietnamese people don’t exist in Vietnam) and there are lots of stray dogs here. In fact, stray dogs are more of a worry to me than falling roofs or holes in the floor!

But although English isn’t their strength, the Vietnamese are incredibly kind and helpful towards tourists. As an example, while I was standing at the wobbly iron gate obstructing access to the overgrown driveway leading to the abandoned hotel, a Vietnamese man stopped his bike and asked me if I was ok. I took my phone out, and used Google Translate to say I wanted to take pictures of the building. He read the translation and nodded, implying it was fine for me to go in. I took a little risk, possibly riskier than urbex itself; I asked him to come with me. He nodded again, pointed towards the building and parked his bike. Delighted and slightly in shock that I had a new urbex buddy who hopefully wouldn’t turn out to be a murderer, I pointed towards the forest beside the building and indicated we should climb over the barbed wire fence and go in the side. And that’s exactly what we did!

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