Exiting the city is really something comparative to time travel. Saigon has a long way to go in terms of development and increasing the standard of living, but immediately outside the city all development ceases to exist. Maybe there will be a housing complex here and there but the majority of the land is swamp and farmland. It was shocking to see such a rapid change from the lifestyles of families living in inner-city apartments to farmers living in homes made of foliage and scrap metal. We came across a small town where we could once again find some low concrete buildings for homes and shops along the streets. The streets in this small town, like the city, were mostly filled with hundreds of motorbikes weaving around big trucks and cars. With all the weaving and lack of traffic laws, its incredibly impressive how little accidents there are. Luckily, we made a stop in this town and I had the opportunity to try some street food in a place I felt was as authentic as it could get. I was anything but disappointed. The steamed meat dumpling I chose to eat as a late breakfast meal hit the spot both in taste and satisfying how hungry I was.
After what felt like a quick ride, we finally got sight of what I’d describe as Vietnam’s own version of the Christ Redeemer statue. The statue stood, both arms out wide, on the top of small mountain overlooking the city of Vung Tau and the adjacent ocean. As you might imagine, in order to get to the statue to be able to climb up to the top, we first had to climb the stairs up that small mountain in the heat and sun. Of course, my brain didn’t work this morning too so I wore a black tank top with green shorts, but for the statue, our knees and shoulders needed to be covered and what I packed to do so was some black leggings and a black light cardigan. Maybe Jesus appreciated my effort to look like a nun. Although I wasn’t really the best at preparing for the trek up the stairs in 90° weather, the view at the top of the statue was nothing short of magnificent. With the clear sky’s you could see the entire city below and boats out on the ocean that seemed miles away. Seeing a view like this is always something that strikes awe, but the fact that we climbed a spiral staircase to see it from Jesus’s shoulders made the experience even more interesting because it showed more about the town’s intrinsic values and beliefs.
This incredible view of the town was closely followed by an incredible fish themed meal. This meal was once again a preset several course meal that allowed us to try many different types and styles of fish dishes commonly eaten in the country. It was my favorite meal so far, however there is still time for Vietnam to top this with the time left in the trip. All of the food so far on this trip has been absolutely fantastic and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it was topped several times more. Vietnam having one of the healthiest cuisines in the world comes with no surprise because of its light and fresh ingredients. After trying several different types of food, I am excited to see what kinds of meals are to come for the rest of the trip.