Day 6: Leave Room for Jesus – 5/11/19

We started out early this morning at 6 to take a bus to Vung Tau Beach. I can’t believe how heavy and backed up traffic was in Ho Chi Minh at 6 am on a Saturday. I watched the tall buildings slowly, very slowly, fade into shorter more shack-like buildings. The contrast between the city and its outskirts was very small, which surprised me. Ho Chi Minh also had a lot of short, shack-like buildings. The only difference in the outskirts was the lack of all the tall buildings. Also, I noticed that the outskirts were much less crowded; there was hardly any traffic there and I didn’t see many people driving on the sidewalks. The little contrast between the outskirts and the city demonstrates the fairly even development of Vietnam. This only applies to the immediate surroundings of cities, as the Mekong Delta is still fairly undeveloped. Also, I saw quite a few religious buildings outside of the city, which shows that religion may be more important outside of urban life. This also shows the difference in development because, in many urban cultures, religion is not a large part of life while in more rural areas it is. The shops and restaurants in the surrounding areas were small hole-in-the-wall type places. There were also a lot of people selling things at stands on the sidewalks. This is very similar to the city, except that they didn’t have any large department stores. This shows that the immediate surroundings of the city haven’t become globalized yet. While driving through the streets, I saw a lot of families driving on their motorbikes. I saw a lot of people sitting in cafes and restaurants as well. Some of the kids waved to us as we drove by. This shows their interest in people that look different than them. This also demonstrates that the outskirts haven’t been completely globalized yet. Our first stop was a rest stop. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be; they had western style toilets and soap! Then, we went to a giant Jesus statue at the top of a mountain. It was so incredible. There were over 800 steps just to get to the statue. Then there were even more steps to get to the top of the statue. It was interesting because we had to take our shoes off to go in, which I felt showed some of the cultural norms and traditions here. The view from the top was incredible! It was totally worth dripping in sweat to get to the top. It was also worth the incredibly tight squeeze in the stairs where there was certainly “no room for Jesus”. After taking some pictures, we walked around the grounds a bit. It was so beautiful. It had other small statues and it had so many trees and flowers. It was such a peaceful place, which suited it well since it is a holy place. After climbing in the Jesus statue, we went to the resort. The town wasn’t exactly what i pictured as a resort town because really the only thing they had in the town were resorts. I thought there might be some cute shops and restaurants similar to a beach town. Also, the resorts seemed a lot smaller than the ones I’ve seen and been to in the US. We had a very nice lunch where we shared a bunch of different courses. The best part: they had vegetables!! I honestly think I ate the equivalent of 1/2-3/4 of the broccoli and cauliflower on the plate. There was also some fish and rice noodle fried “roll” (it wasn’t actually in the shape of a roll). They also served us french fries, beef, fish (with the head still on and the eye still there), fried rice with shrimp, egg drop soup that may or may not have had shrimp, and fruit for dessert. I have to say, dragon fruit looks like it will taste a lot better than it actually does. However, the watermelon and pineapple were delicious! After lunch, we were all so relieved to get into the pool and get out of the heat. The resort was beautiful. It had an infinity pool with cold tubs instead of hot tubs. It also had pretty statues, flowers, and a little footbridge. It was right on the beach as well, so after swimming for a bit, we went looking for seashells. I found some really pretty ones! Unfortunately, towards the end, it started pouring, so we hung out under the umbrellas until we left. After we get back to the hotel, we’re going to order pizza and play board games with the Vietnamese students, which I think is perfect for a rainy evening. I can’t believe how fast the time is flying; we already left a week ago! I can’t wait to go crawl around the Cu Chi Tunnels tomorrow!

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