Day 107, Friday April 20 2012, Vung Tau – HMC
I had a terrible sleep last night, for some reason I could not get my body tempreture down, even with the air con blasting away I was hot all night long and barely slept. I had a lovely room in Chris and Trish’s house with the most awesome sci-fi shower, I took a photo, but it was crap!
I was up at 6.30 and had a brief chat with Chris befor he left for work, George was up soon after me as we had decided to go visit the Big Buddha together, and get out as early as possible before the heat got up. Apart from the beach Vung Tau’s (VT) key attractions are a big Jesus statue (supposedly bigger than the Brazilian one) a lighthouse and recently a big Buddha (competition to Big J. maybe ?) These are all located on small hills on the Sth China Sea side of VT. Each of the hills had old war time gun emplacements as well.
George and I were out the door and in a cab by 8.00 for the short ride to the base of the big Buddha hill, the hill also has a small amusement park type thing at the top, with a short cable car to get there ( a la Ba Na hills in Da Nang). The Buddha was Ok, there was also a cave underneath, which has been either recently built or recently renovated – hard to tell.
There was small zoo with some porcupines, pigs, ostriches and deer living in terrible conditions that would never be allowed in the west, some of the deer were in a bad state and I felt for the poor beasts. There was also a luge on a rollercoaster track which was a bit of fun and we had a few goes, I never made it down without touching the brakes though I am sure it is possible.
We caught the cable car back down and George went home and grabbed a motorbike taxi and got a ride to the base of the big Jesus via the lighthouse.
The lighthouse offered a good view of Big J. and VT .
I liked this graffiti on an old French gun emplacement on the hill, well i liked the fact that though I am 99% sure it was written by Vietnamese it is in English, this is quite common.
The walk up to big J. was gruelling, if it was NZ I would have run up it, but even at 9.30 AM it was hot, I just put my head down and ploughed on up, the Vietnamese and Chinese tourists struggled upwards and I passed a lot them sitting in pools of sweat on the way. You can climb up the inside of big J and the view from his shoulders was pretty big.
I had arranged to meet Trish and George for lunch so started heading back to the house on foot from Big J. I expected to be met by a motorcycle taxi within the thirty seconds of hitting the road but for a change this didn’t happen and I ended up walking along the water front for an hour, before one finally found me a hundred metres from my destination!
I went straight into the pool to cool down ! For lunch Trish took George and I (individually) on the back of her motorbike to a local cafe that specialises in Banh Khot, one of the local specialities. You get served a bowl of soup , which you soak some rice noodles, mixed with chilli paste that you add as you like, some local herbs, lettuce leaves and rice pancakes with a shrimp on top.
You then wrap the pancake, herbs and noodles in a lettuce leaf and dip in the sauce – very nice !
After lunch I picked up a USB flash drive from a local store and grabbed a whole pile of new music from Georges collection – so nice to have some new stuff to listen to : ) and soon after it was time to get on the ferry back to Saigon.
Many thanks to Chris, Trish and George for inviting me into their home and feeding me a wonderful home cooked meal. It was a touch of home that I missed and very much appreciated : )
Back in town I was sent off to a sister hotel as the Luan Vu was full (I expected this !) but it was a bit cheaper and just as good so no bother to me. The view out the window.
I wandered around Bui Vien and had dinner and then discovered the NZ v Australia Anzac rugby league test on a TV in a bar so went and watched, a depressing, final twenty minutes as we lost to Australia 20-12. Oh well….
I picked up a small bottle of whisky for about $10 bucks and had a shot while I did a belated blog post.
PS – I must learn to proof read before posting and not after…