Today we had an early start, boarding the bus at 6 am for a trip to Vung Tau. In Vung Tau, we hiked up to an outlook and relaxed at a resort. After five days of classes and site visits, I was excited to have a whole day dedicated to sight seeing and relaxing. The ride to Vung Tau was a few hours long, so this was the farthest out of the city we’ve been so far. Throughout the drive, it was obvious that we were getting farther from the city. The transition from city to suburb to rural area was similar to that in America. The massive buildings of Ho Chi Minh City gave way to smaller local businesses and restaurants, which eventually became farmland. There was also a lot less street and pedestrian traffic as we left the city.
Our first stop in Vung Tau was the statue of Jesus. The town has a large statue of Jesus, similar to the statue in Rio, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. To get to the statue, we hiked up several hundred stairs. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we had to option to climb up Jesus (as long as we covered our knees and removed our shoes). Walking up to upper campus next semester will seem like a breeze after this hike in 90-degree weather! The view was well worth the effort though. The area surrounding the statue was beautifully decorated, and the view from Jesus’s shoulder was amazing.
After the walk, we drove to a nearby resort and had a delicious five course meal. The food was not traditional Vietnamese food, but there was still some French influence. We enjoyed Caesar salad, fried squid, pumpkin soup, sea bass, and creme brulee before relaxing on the beach and in the resort’s pool. Strangely enough, being at the resort almost made me forget we were all in Vietnam. The resort was just like how I would expect a nice resort in the US to look. It was probably the most lavish place I’ve ever been, which I was surprised by.
This break was much needed and much appreciated by everyone! It was also nice that we had time to explore the city tonight, ultimately deciding on pizza and McFlurry’s for dinner. Next up: Cu Chi Tunnels (and some slight claustrophobia)!