Today the group was able to venture outside the classroom for a day of relaxation and adventure. We first went the Christ statue of Vung Tau. Although the hike up was a little strenuous, the view of the city was absolutely spectacular. The view improved as we were able to climb up the inside of the statue to get a better vantage point. Though the view wasn’t the only interesting thing at the top of the mountain. There were also old anti-naval guns and what seemed to be an old Vietnamese base. The irony that these objects all appear on the top of the same mountain really paints a picture of an aspect of the Vietnamese history: a beautiful and peace-loving country plagued by war.
Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day at The Imperial Beach Club in Vung Tau. The water, although unusually murky, was warm and relatively calm. After the ocean we spent most of our time in the pool. Just about everyone got sunburn. We relaxed, ate well, and enjoyed the company of our Vietnamese friends. Although tiring, it was truly a great day of relaxation.
Another interesting thing that we experienced wasn’t observed at our destinations but rather on our trip to and from it. The drastic and quick transition from city to extreme rural areas was awe-inspiring. We went from a packed city of many modern amenities and relatively well-kept infrastructure to farm shacks and fields of crops. The same was true for Vung Tau. The transition was spectacular. But there was also something else. The fact that Vung Tau was a beach resort town was really only felt in a couple block radius from the resorts. The rest of the city was filled with the same sometimes grubby-looking shops as those in other major Vietnamese cities. It is clear that Vietnamese cities, and the country as a whole, has trouble giving a city one function. With very little in between cities, one will find a diverse population and set of functions in metropolitan areas.
Thanks for reading,