Today, we took a day off and drove south to the resort town of Vũng Tàu. Along the way, we drove through both big and large suburbs filled with shops and homes. Some of the stores were grandiose and seemed expensive whereas others were merely metal shacks. It was interesting to see the types of stores along the road. There were many food places, but there was also a large amount of stores selling tiles, pipes, bricks, and more. Although many of the roads were populated with storefronts, we also drove through areas where you could see farmland. What I found surprising was how immediate the transition from city to farmland was. We saw cows, lotus flowers, and water buffalo. I also found it amusing that many motorbikes would drive the opposite direction of traffic in the shoulder of the highway. When we stopped for a bathroom break, it was interesting how many of the people didn’t wait in line. They would just push ahead because they didn’t consider it rude. It was also interesting to stop by the store and look at the food. Almost everything the store sold was completely different from what you could find in the USA.
When we finally arrived, we began our day by climbing up Mount Nho to see the view and the statue of Jesus Christ. When we got to the top, we were able to go inside the statue and go up to an outlook on his shoulders. To go inside the statue, we needed to cover our shoulders and knees and to remove our hats and shoes. The view from the top was spectacular and a breezy respite from the pressing heat.
After the climb up Mount Nho, we headed to a the nearby resort of Biển Đông Ocean Park. We had a delicious meal near the ocean and then spend the next few hours swimming and having fun. Like many resort towns,Vũng Tàu seemed posh in some areas yet ordinary others. The resort obviously catered to western foreigners with menus in English and a five course meal of Western dishes. The meal was obviously catered to foreigners when they served us asparagus, which two of the Vietnamese students had never eaten before. I had expected the resort town to be like every other resort town and, in a way, it did. I’m sure that if we had explored areas other than the resort and the mountain, the town may have seemed more individual. However, although the food was delicious and the resort was relaxing, it really didn’t feel like we were specifically in Vietnam while we were there.