Rather than the usual 7:15 AM wake up call, we hopped out of bed at 5:30 in order to get a jumpstart on our trip to the beach. We left so early that we missed the hotel’s breakfast, but luckily, they provided us each with a Styrofoam container that included three pieces of bread, some pork paste, a banana, and a bag of milk. As we continued our drive, the sights out the window became drastically different from what we had become used to in Ho Chi Minh City. The large three and four story restaurants and stores along with the tall office buildings that had filled the city were replaced by small one story shacks and houses. The small buildings often had people outside sitting in lawn chairs either relaxing or attempting to sell something to anyone who came by. There were also a lot of marshy areas and farmland where I saw a few people out working in the fields. The number of stray animals also increased, and there were a few herds of cows roaming the streets as well as some wild dogs. Interestingly enough, I saw four or five car dealerships right next to each other that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Most of the people around us were still driving on motorbikes and I was confused as to why they would pick this location and if they did much business at all.
Our first stop in Vung Tau was the giant Jesus Statue. We got off the bus and had to walk up over 800 steps in the 90 degree weather to get up to the statue. Then, already dripping sweat, we had to take off our shoes and climb inside the statue, where it was hotter than it was outside, in order to go to the small lookout point at the top. Inside the statue there was one, small, spiral staircase that people going up and down both had to use to get to the top. Eventually, we made it to the top and even though it was gross inside the statute, the view from the top was amazing.
We went from the statue to the beach resort and had a huge lunch that included everything from French fries and soup to beef banh mi and fruit. After lunch we got to swim in the large pool and go down by the ocean where we saw a huge dead jellyfish, a small dead fish and a bunch of crabs digging holes in the sand. Overall, the resort reminded me a lot of beach resorts in the US. It had a nice restaurant with great food, easy access to the ocean, and a big pool. Even though the resort was fairly typical of a US resort, the town surrounding it was completely different. Rather than the boardwalks and shops that line American beach towns, Vung Tao was filled with the small one story shacks and street vendors that we saw on the ride over. I was surprised that I didn’t see a ton of similar beach resorts in an area that would be flooded by them in the US.
I had a great time today, and I can’t wait to go to the tunnels tomorrow!