The day started off with meeting at 6AM to go to Vung Tau, a beach resort town on the coast of the South China Sea. We got there after a 2 hour bus ride and then went to climbing Jesus.
On the bus ride, I spent my time looking at the window at the changing scenery. We went from city to rural areas in a relatively short time, skipping over suburbs that you would expect from cities in the United States. I saw a group of rice farmers working, wearing their generic farmer hats, and it felt like something out of a movie.
Going through rural areas, we were also able to see mountains. I enjoyed seeing the natural parts of Vietnam, as thus far most of what I’d seen was man-made. Once we passed the rural areas, though, we arrived at Vung Tau. I again saw more of what I expected from a resort town: tall buildings and fancy resorts. It no longer really felt like Vietnam, or what I expected of Vietnam, at least.
Climbing Jesus Mountain wasn’t too bad on the legs, and the statue of Jesus himself seemed to grow taller as we climbed higher. When I got to the top, I got to climb up the statue of the man himself. The view was beautiful, but since I’m a little shaky with heights and the balcony was crowded with a barrier only up to my waist, I didn’t linger. After walking around some more and eating ice cream, we made our way back down and from there went to the beach.
A beach day was exactly what the doctor ordered. We ran immediately into the ocean, then chilled in the pool, and after lunch I relaxed as I stared out into the waves. After a busy week and more stuff to come, I needed a day like today.
On the way back, when I wasn’t sleeping I was looking at the window as we passed small towns that I didn’t notice on the way there. I felt like I was seeing more of what I expected of Vietnam in those towns. They were less modern, with buildings of straw and no foreign businesses. I saw motorbike repair shops, fish shops, kids helping their parents work, dogs walking around. The towns were small and dirty, while the people were, though maybe dirty, seemingly content.
It felt nice to be out of the big city for a day. Seeing mountains reminded me of the geography of where I am, and seeing the towns reminded me that there is far more to Vietnam than Ho Chi Minh City. I look forward to venturing out of the city again during the trip, specifically on our day in the Mekong Delta, to see more of Vietnam and get a better feel for the country’s character.