Night birds (2)
I wrote about R&R places in the introduction, and as an interested real traveller (haha), I decided to have a look. . . and to have a beer! By the way, I drank a half litre (a pint) Tiger beer in the bar full of girls for 20.000 Dong (less than one dollar!), whilst the same beer, in the check-in area of the airport in Saigon costs you 70.000 Dong!
It was “low business season”, and in the bar, there were more girls than guys; they were very kind with the photographer, and were even happy to let me photograph them; I made the pictures without flashlight, tried not to disturb the “customers”. I almost get a blush, writing that I enjoyed the one hour I spent there, drinking a few beers, chatting with the girls (some speak a bit English, better for “business”), photographing them, and commenting the photographs. I am almost sure these girls do not have a happy life, and I felt they liked to spend a few minutes with a “not one of the usual guys” who tried to show them how they look like on their “workplace”. Ah! My travel book is full of email addresses. . . . . I had to send the pictures, of course. . . . .
Outside, red light, but inside, too (first picture) just for the atmosphere. . . . The barkeepers are ladies, naturally (picture 2), and it is difficult to know if they have another job here. . . . . . Well, R&R meant to me “repos du guerrier” (Warrior’s rest), which to me has a very precise meaning. . . . . so here is a look at the recreation part of R&R; drinking beer, certainly, being in a feminine environment, being animated to drink, and billiards is apparently a very popular recreation, preferably with young nice looking ladies. . . . . . like on picture 3 or picture 4. Well, tens of pages could be written, but I do not know the subject (money, pimps, violence, human degradation. . . . . . ), and it may go far beyond what VT stands for! It is just travel discovery too! And, when the girls do not “work”, they read, write, receive phone calls, chat and share. . . like “normal” people (picture 5).
A word about a real plague of humanity in the last “tip”.
Lang Ca Ong (Whale Temple)
Not far from the previous pagoda is the Whale Temple, at the crossing of Hoa Tham and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh streets; there is a sort of a Whale Religion in Vietnam, in many coastal areas, as people believe that fishermen from a village had been rescued by a whale when they were attacked by a marine monster. There are temples in coastal towns where the Whale is worshipped, and you find paintings displaying the act of the whale, displaying bones of whales in the temples, and some have even fridges with whale meat or baby whales. . . . La Ca Ong of Vung Tau has big glass cases where a skeleton of a whale is on display. . .
On the inner side of the wall surrounding the temple are mosaics and paintings telling the legend; on the main picture are probably the monsters which terrorised the fishermen. The skeleton of the whale in red light is quite impressive (picture 2), and most of the decoration, like the “classical” altar with the cranes (picture 3) is red dominated! Warrior, scholars, deities are sailing on this boat on picture 4, probably to chase the dragon in a dragon shaped boat. . . . .
The walls and main building are modern and the decoration with this typical Chinese dog on the roof are nice to look at (picture 5).
Beach resort, work and R&R. . . . oops!
"Beach resort since the French colonial time"
Vung . . . what ? ? ? Vung Tau !! Where is that ? I did not know about the existence of Vung Tau before I received a mail announcing me there was an “International conference. . “ about some special rocks I am supposed to be an expert of, in the company where I work. . . Well, I attended a conference in Vung Tau, and before leaving for this quite exotic destination I looked in VT, and there were a few short pages about! So, it was known in the VT world, and my little research began there before taking off.
Vung Tau is now a city of 250.000 inhabitants covering a wide area of the peninsula. The name of the place means more or less “anchoring” in Vietnamese, as many sailors in the past stopped there, and the name of Cabo Santiago, given by Portuguese sailors in the 15th century, has later been re-used by the French colonial administration. There were about 5000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century, and later, from a small fishing village it became a sea side resort for the middle class Saigon inhabitants.
Vung Tau , (Cap St Jaques during the French colonial time), is located about 2-3 hours drive from HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City, I prefer to call Saigon). Since 25 years it is also an industrial city developing with the offshore oil industry, initiated by the Soviet in the area (the biggest company in the city is still called Vietsovpetro, even after the collapse of the Soviet big brother).
During the Vietnam war, it became a rest and recuperation (R&R) place for American troops (you know what “R&R” means for soldiers. . . . ), and this “tradition” has been kept and may be “improved” since the cooperation with the soviet big brother; there is a soviet (now Russian) quarter in Vung Tau, and “recreation centres” are also not far from this quarter. . . . Uncle Ho and his administration didn’t “clean” everywhere after the war . . . . .
"Walking tour (literally!)"
A nice thing to do in Vung Tau is to walk the few kilometres along the road going around the peninsula, from the small fishing boats harbour, the sea on the right side to the great beach, and then walk cross the peninsula, visit the city and come back to the small harbour; harbour, in fact it is just a place where the boats are anchored when the are not fishing; there is no real harbour, just a place where the sea is not as rough as on other places. Walking along, you have great views over various seashore landscapes, see many ships on the sea, enjoy the changing weather, meet fishermen and other locals; well, a sort of an introduction to local life! You also meet young people who just love to be photographed with the foreigner, and you can safely lend them your camera for a while
"Temples, markets, city life. . . ."
Vung Tau, as its name suggests (in French: Cap St Jaques!) is a peninsula, with a long beach on its south eastern side, a rocky coast on the Western side and a big harbour area on the north west; it is tied to the mainland on the northern side.
Vung Tau is the capital city of Ba Ria Vung Tau Province which has been founded administratively in 1991only; this province has a seashore of about 100 km, of which 75 km are said to be sand beaches. . . . It is a maritime province where seafood is famous!
It was quite rainy in beginning September, but the low dark sky had some special beauty. Vung Tau is a week end destination for Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) residents in the good season, but in September the city was rather quiet.
Most people come to Vung Tau for the beach, but a visit to the city has its charm, looking at the small shops, wandering in the market, “discovering” Buddhist temples, watching the busy streets from a café terrace . . . . Welcome for a virtual tour!
My photographs are not works of art, my writings are not literature.
Be kind, I posted them here, and I would appreciate you inform me if you intend to display them elsewhere! Merci!
Vung Tau City is located on the South of Ba ria - Vung tau province, is only about 120km from Ho Chi Minh City, one of the biggest economical and political center of Viet Nam, 3 faces to the sea with 20km long, 140,12km2 in area. Lying on the climate of tropical monsoon area, the year average temperature is about 27oC. The weather is very cool and fresh and it is sunny and warm all the year round, the beaches are clean, beautiful, romantic and majetic with smooth and yellow sand, Vung Tau City has lovely 4 seasons and Sea - Sand - Sun : Thuy Van ( Back Beach ), Tam Duong ( Front Beach ), Dau Beach, Dua Beach and historic landcapes : Lighthouse, Villa Blanch, Nirvana Pagoda, Sakyamuni Pagoda, Long Son Communal House. To get Vung Tau City, it only takes 2 hours travelling by coach, 1 hour and quarter by Express Boat from HCM City. Vung Tau City is the very place where sea ecological tourism and holiday making are actively developed.