Best day of the trip! Despite loving a few of our site visits, it’s hard to top a relaxing day filled with sight-seeing and five-star resorts. Although the heat caused me to literally drip sweat for hours and we had to wake up before 6am for a lengthy bus ride, the day was completely worth it. Our bus ride to the beach allowed us to see endless street-side markets and vendors and get our first taste of more rural Vietnam. It was the destination that made the trip however.
We arrived in Vung Tau around 9:30 and spent our first hour and half hiking up a small mountain and getting up close and personal with Jesus. On the top of the mountain – 753 stairs of climbing – is a gigantic statue of Jesus which tourists can climb up. Unfortunately, the stairway spiraling up Jesus’s inside was hardly wide enough to fit one person. The humid, stuffy climb was miserable, but the view from Jesus’s shoulder was absolutely breathtaking. The ocean covered an entire horizon while an expansive collection of houses and buildings comprised the other. It is without a doubt one of the greatest views I have ever taken in.
Once we had scaled Jesus and returned to sea level, we traveled down the street to a five-star resort – the Imperial Hotel. While it seemed like it should have felt like a traditional beach, something about the oddly cooling breeze coming off the sea, the high-class meal, and the luxurious pool made the experience feel completely one-of-a-kind.
We started our four-hour stay with the best meal I have had on the trip. The food was not traditional Vietnamese cuisine, but it still pushed me from my comfort zone. After a Caesar salad opening course, we were offered pieces of fried squid coated with a layer of spices. I believe this may be the first piece of seafood in my life that I have actually enjoyed eating. For whatever reason, the usual seafood taste wasn’t present, and it was cooked excellently. Our third course featured a light pumpkin soup which I also enjoyed despite rarely liking the taste of pumpkin. Fourth, we received blackened seabass. My whole life I have despised the texture and flavor of fish, but the fish taste was weak and the food was well-cooked enough that I actually thought it was alright (not that good, I definitely wouldn’t order it, but okay).
We spent the remainder of our afternoon relaxing in the infinity pool. There was nothing super special to highlight, but all of us just got to hang out and talk and it was a really great atmosphere. Everybody on the trip has gotten a lot closer to each other over the last couple days, and I love getting to know everybody! We have a bunch of great people on our trip.
Since this post is later than usual, I can also relay the fact that I was reunited with pizza for dinner. After eating it everyday at school, a full week-off had sent me into pizza-withdrawal. Thankfully, it tasted very American, and I was satisfied. Following dinner, a few of us took a walk downtown and wound up stopping at McDonald’s because we’re just too American. I still think I had my fair share of unique food for the day though! It’ll be another long, hot day tomorrow – more updates then!