5/12 Vung Tau Rest Day

Today we woke up early to leave for the beach town of Vung Tau. As we left the city, the landscape went from that of a modern city to more rural. As we learned during the visit to the US consulate, the rural areas have seen less development than the urban areas. This was evident during the drive when we went by buildings with tin roofs. Developing these rural areas is a much harder task than in the city because it’s difficult to bring in the same quantity and quality of jobs. Therefore most shops were either food or clothing. Also the buildings and shopfronts were very simple. Nothing seemed new like in Ho Chi Minh City and there wasn’t a whole bunch of new construction. Vung Tau surprised me by how nice it was. However, I understand that is only because we went to a nice place that caters to foreigners. I imagine that most other parts of the town are not similar. The hike up the to the Christ statue really showed off Vung Tau’s natural beauty. It was really fun, aside from the fact that it was incredibly hot. Today was also a great day to rest, as the first week in Vietnam has been awesome, but very tiring. On the way back from Vung Tau, I was reading The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, and it just so happened that one of the stories mentioned Vung Tau. From this story I learned that the town was called Cap Saint Jacques when the French ruled. After getting back to Ho Chi Minh City, I went out exploring the city again and tried the street food bot chien. It was very good and reminded me of an omelet. It was made of fried rice flour cubes with egg, scallion, and pickled green papaya. Ordering this was easy and quick, so next I went to get my second bowl of pho during this trip. This time I tried Pho Hung. Our waiter was very nice but the language barrier was the largest yet of the trip. From this interaction, I realized I was not very good at charades. Luckily I was able to get my pho and it was my favorite of the trip. The amount of fresh herbs we got was crazy. It felt like you had an entire garden on your plate. 

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