Cool dip in new tourism waters
"NO sir, very dangerous. No sir, very dangerous,'' the resort staffer exclaims as he runs across the beach, waving his arms wildly.
He must have thought I was mad.
The ocean was rough and there was not a soul on the beach on what was a wet and windy day.
But after testing the waters of the vast swimming pools of the Hyatt Regency in Danang, Vietnam, I was determined to take my insanity another step forward by jumping into the ocean.
I tried to explain to the poor bloke that I was from Australia and quite accustomed to surf - and that I was only going up to my waist.
But no doubt he was contemplating how he was going to rescue someone twice his size if I happened to get sucked out to sea.
He need not have worried - the water was beautiful, albeit a little chilly - and I survived to tell the tale to other guests at the resort.
Found on Vietnam's picturesque central coast, Danang is the latest destination for AirAsia operating out of the Gold Coast.
The city is now Vietnam's third- largest and judging by the level of tourist development going on, one that is attracting more and more visitors.
Rich with cultural and historic attractions, Danang is the gateway to three UNESCO World Heritage sites.
My favourite was Hoi An, an ancient town on a river which is a real cultural crossroad, featuring Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French-styled buildings. The smiles of the fruit sellers, the buzz of the markets at night, the smorgasbord of culinary tastes, together with plentiful visitors from the US and Australia combine to make for a memorable visit.
If you are looking to create a whole new wardrobe, you can't go past the myriad tailors who take just hours to make everything from shirts to formal gowns for a fraction of what you would expect to pay.
A group of men I was travelling with decided at the last minute to test one of the tailors, dropping in just before 4pm. Sure enough, after picking pictures from the fashion pages of magazines and catalogues and being measured up, we were told to come back at 8pm - for our fitting.
We returned to find our suits and tuxedos fitted almost perfectly, with just a few adjustments needed. Suits ranged in price from about $100 up, depending on the material you use.
Hoi An has plenty of places worth visiting, including the Japanese covered bridge connecting the Chinese quarters, the Phung Hung Ancient House and Chinese Meeting Hall.
The people are very friendly and happy to tell you stories of the town's history.
It's definitely a place worth spending a couple of days or more exploring.
Western families were returning to simple pleasures like riding around the car and motorbike-free roads or cruising up the river in a boat.
It's also fascinating visiting the many shops and manufacturing outlets to watch local artisans working with wood, ceramics and fabrics.
The architecture of Hoi An is captivating. A number of the town's wooden buildings date from the first half of the 19th century.
During our visit to Vietnam, we also took in the UNESCO- recognised sites of Hue as well as My Son Sanctuary.
Hue's star attraction is the Imperial Citadel which includes the Forbidden City where only the emperors, their concubines, eunuchs and those close to the throne were granted access.
My Son Sanctuary is a 2km-wide valley, surrounded by mountain ranges, and featuring ruined Hindu monu- ments, built between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Kings of Champa.
The Hyatt has an immaculate stretch of white sandy beach with views of the ocean as its frontyard while the Marble Mountains are in the backyard.
The signature restaurant offers authentic Vietnamese seafood and western grills.
The buffet breakfast was particularly good - and gave cause to do some more laps in the pool.
GOOD TO KNOW
Danang is in central Vietnam, the third largest city after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. A new international airport has just opened along with new resorts. AirAsia now operates flights to Danang from the Gold Coast via Kuala Lumpur.
The Hyatt Regency Danang features 200 guestrooms with oversized balconies and floor to ceiling windows. The oceanfront property also features 182 luxurious residences and 27 Ocean Villas each with a private pool.
If you want pure luxury down the road in Hoi An, you can't go past The Nam Hai. It recently topped the Best Leisure Hotel/Resort for the Asia region in a travel poll.