Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, and the trip to Vung Tau exemplified this perfectly. We started our trip in Ho Chi Minh, complete with its crowded streets and and mixture of more modern buildings and run-down shops. As we were approaching the outskirts of the city, the booming development showed itself in several towering buildings that were being erected simultaneously. These were almost all new residential buildings, mostly on the higher end of residences in Ho Chi Minh.
As we passed these new developements, rural Vietnam took over for the main part of the journey. Either rice fields surrounded shacks, or trees dominated the landscape for the better part of an hour. Vietnam is still not considered to be a developed country, and this stretch of land could help show why. Once we started to near Vung Tau, small communities popped up along the road, larger concrete residences as well as small shops selling the staple Pho and other everyday goods. All of these communities were moderately well-to-do, but one thing stood out about all of them to me. The nicest, most well-kept buildings were always churches and pagodas, by far. Most churches featured massive statues, and all pagodas were immaculately well kept. What also caught my eye was one particular Buddhist temple that was covered in swastikas. The western knowledge of this symbol made its appearance shocking, until I remembered that it was used as a symbol of “all” or “eternity” before World War II.
Vung Tau itself was wonderful. Having traveled to similar towns in Mexico, I was not surprised by the town itself. The statue of Christ and accompanying view and climb was breathtaking, and the specific resort we stayed at was beautiful.