Vietnam: Danang – Marble Mountains

There are five limestone and marble mini-mountains (actually they are just pillar outcrops) in Danang not far from the coastline. The five are named after the five elements of nature – Kim (metal), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire), Tho (earth), and Thuy (water). All five have caves inside and Buddhist and Hindu temples and sanctuaries everywhere. Only Thuy is accessible easily and it’s an absolute overload of religious kitsch. What would have otherwise been a beautiful natural formation of grottos and skylights is overloaded to extreme with all types of Buddhist sculptures, monuments, carvings, decorations, and weird colorful lighting. There are mini-Buddhas smiling at you from pretty much every mountain crevice and it’s a total zoo of mostly Chinese tourists for whom this kitsch is pretty much being assembled and created. At every step exploring this (and it’s massive!), I kept thinking “damn, what a total annihilation of nature for commercial religion.”