Why do people choose to build and live in a raw, undeveloped area like this, remote from the city center and almost completely lacking in amenities and services? Money. That is certainly my first guess. Land costs closer to the center of Da Nang are prohibitively high for many Vietnamese families. An area with lower land costs like this one makes home ownership affordable to people who would be hard-pressed to buy in more developed parts of the city. You can be sure the families that have built the homes pictured here expect their investments to appreciate significantly in the years to come. And this will almost certainly happen as more people move to the area and businesses serving the new residents follow in their wake.
Another view of Cầu Nguyễn Văn Trỗi, this one late in the afternoon on a balmy day in early March. People are out walking, chatting, taking photos, and maybe throwing a fishing line into the river. The previous photo was looking west towards the city of Da Nang, while this view is looking east. The beach and the East Sea are a couple of kilometers from here.
This bridge, now called Cầu Nguyễn Văn Trỗi, was built by an American company in 1965, apparently to serve the US war effort in Vietnam. It connects the downtown urban core of Da Nang with the narrow strip of land that runs between the Han River and the beach area to the east of downtown. One source I saw says there was a wooden bridge across the river in this spot built during the French colonial era. In any case the bridge shown in the photo was the first steel structure traffic bridge crossing the river. A local friend remembers crossing the river in a ferry during these years. She also notes that the beach side of the river was mostly farmland at the time. Today it is built up with residential areas, markets and commercial areas for local businesses, as well as lots of hotels and businesses catering to tourists.
More and bigger bridges were built across the river and at some point this bridge was closed to traffic. When the last of the newer bridges, Cầu Trần Thị Lý (pictured to the right in the photo), was completed in 2013, the bridge was restored as a pedestrian walkway. It is indeed a great place for walking with a wonderful view of the river and the city.
Nguyễn Văn Trỗi is the name of a war hero who fought for the North and was born in this part of Vietnam. Lots of Da Nang streets and public places are named after military and political leaders who sided with the North, a reminder that the winners get to shape the history of a place.