In the hands of the gods: Vietnam’s Golden Bridge goes viral

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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors pose and take pictures as they walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors pose and take pictures as they walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
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In this photo taken on July 31, 2018, visitors walk along the 150-meter long Cau Vang "Golden Bridge" in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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In the hands of the gods: Vietnam’s Golden Bridge goes viral

  • 150 meters long bridge snakes through the forest high up in mountains first developed by French colonists as a hill station in 1919
  • It clocked 13 million foreign visitors last year, mostly from China

DANANG, Vietnam: Nestled in the forested hills of central Vietnam two giant concrete hands emerge from the trees, holding up a glimmering golden bridge crowded with gleeful visitors taking selfies at the country’s latest eccentric tourist draw.
Designed to make visitors feel like they’re taking a stroll on a shimmering thread stretching across the hands of gods, the “Golden Bridge” has attracted hordes of guests since it opened in the Ba Na Hills near Danang in June.
Images of the bridge have gone viral on social media, much to the surprise of the architect who had no idea it would attract so much attention.
“We’re proud that our product has been shared by people all over the world,” principal designer and founder of TA Landscape Architecture, Vu Viet Anh, told AFP.
At 150 meters long (490 feet), the bridge snakes through the forest high up in mountains first developed by French colonists as a hill station in 1919.
Today the area is a major tourist attraction, boasting a cable car, replica French medieval village — including faux castle and cathedral — manicured gardens and a wax museum featuring statues of Lady Gaga and Michael Jordan.
The only remnants of the original French occupants are the crumbling remains of their holiday homes that can still be spotted from the cable car.
But visitors are mostly interested in the newly built Cau Vang, which means “Golden Bridge” in Vietnamese.
“The bridge is beautiful with an amazing architectural style, from here we can see Danang City, it’s so nice,” Nguyen Trung Phuc told AFP.
Another visitor, Nguyen Hien Trang, said: “I have traveled quite a lot but I’ve never seen any bridges as beautiful as this one.”
The Ba Na Hills project was built by Sun Group, which has divided opinion with audacious projects elsewhere in Vietnam.
In 2016 it opened a cable car on Vietnam’s tallest mountain Fansipan in the tourist hotpot Sapa, prompting complaints from locals who felt it spoiled the landscape and took business away from trekking guides.
Vietnam is no stranger to off-the-wall attractions.
A “crystal cloud” installation of 58,000 shimmering Swarovski beads in the rice-terraced hills of northern Vietnam opened earlier this year, while the surreal “Crazy House” hotel in central Da Lat, designed to look a trippy treehouse, has long attracted legions of curious visitors.
The communist country has long sought to boost visitor numbers and position itself as a must-see destination in Southeast Asia.
It clocked 13 million foreign visitors last year, mostly from China — a far cry from the 35 million international visitors to Thailand in 2017.
Golden Bridge designer Anh said he already has another project in the works: a silver bridge made to look like a god’s strand of hair that will connect to his existing structure in the Ba Na Hills.


Citing cash woes, R Kelly asks judge for OK to fly to Dubai

Updated 47 min 44 sec ago
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Citing cash woes, R Kelly asks judge for OK to fly to Dubai

  • The motion said Kelly is scrambling to pay child support, legal fees and everyday expenses because of the cancelation of US gigs and contracts
  • Wednesday’s filing argued Kelly is no flight risk

CHICAGO: Cash-strapped R. Kelly asked a judge Wednesday to let him travel to the Middle East to perform several concerts, according to a new court filing that said he has struggled to get work in the US since his February arrest on sex abuse charges.
The R&B singer hopes to do up to five concerts next month in Dubai, according to a motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court. It doesn’t specify venues or how much Kelly could earn from the concerts, which the filing contends were arranged prior to Kelly’s arrest.
The concerts seem to be private events, as no publicity has been released about the singer performing in the city.
The motion said Kelly is scrambling to pay child support, legal fees and everyday expenses because of the cancelation of Illinois concerts and a record contract, as well as the removal of his songs from streaming services.
“He cannot work, and consequently cannot make a living if he is confined to Illinois, or even the United States,” according to the five-page court document. “Mr. Kelly needs to generate income.”
A judge could rule on the travel request at a Friday pretrial hearing.
Wednesday’s filing also criticized Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, accusing her of using the case “to thrust herself into the spotlight of the #metoo movement” and to boost her nationwide profile.
A Foxx spokeswoman said prosecutors would respond to the defense filing at the Friday hearing but declined further comment.
Kelly grew up in a Chicago public housing project and went on to become an internationally-acclaimed singer. But amid abuse allegations, music industry executives and fans have started keeping their distance. Lawsuits and tax issues have also hurt him financially.
Kelly was charged Feb. 22 with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly assaulting three underage girls and one adult woman. He has denied ever abusing anyone.
Defense lawyer Steve Greenberg joked to a judge the next day at a bond hearing that, “Contrary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly” — a reference to the singer’s hit “I Believe I Can Fly.”
But Wednesday’s filing said that for a worldwide star like Kelly, travel is essential.
It took the Grammy winner days after his arrest to raise the $100,000 required on $1 million bond to win release. In a separate case earlier this month, Kelly was briefly jailed again until he paid $160,000 in back child support.
Among the bond conditions in his sex abuse case was that he surrender his passport and that he not travel outside Illinois without the judge’s permission.
Wednesday’s filing argued Kelly is no flight risk, noting how he was permitted to travel before his 2008 child pornography trial and always appeared for pretrial hearings. Jurors later acquitted him on all counts.