..Walking around the bay I found really relaxing . The walkway by the bay has stairways in different places giving access to the beach..This enables one to get a great view of what is going on.I spent some time here walking along the beach looking at the fishing boats..The variation of the different boats is an interest and to watch the fishermen also was interesting. To watch the fisherman standing in the circular little boat was I'd thought a lot down to balance ..These particular style of boats I was to see in other parts of Vietnam as well.I imagine that the different syle of the baots were for different applications..crabbing , deep sea fishing ,etc.
I found the local fishermen very friendly to chat with and some of the catches for the day were impressive. One particular fisherman was very happy with his days work and it showed with exhuberance on his face. I couldn't understand if it was an all night fishing trip or just an early morning one , but whatever, the contact with the locals for me was enjoyable.
After arriving in Vung Tau by hydrofoil Ferry from HCMC it was extremely hot and decided enjoy the sea breeze and walk by the bay. The bay had a gathering of the most colourful and varied lot of fishing boats. There were boats of all shapes and sizes. Located here by the bay I found a lovely park with nicely trimmed lawns and was immediately taken by its cooleness. Many people were also relaxing in its coolness What I liked was the many different stone sculptures in various positions..The theme appeared to be family ,its togeatherness and harmony.There were so many different sculptures and am sorry now that I didnt photograph more of them!!..I sat here in the cool for quite some time just watching the boats and the fisherman delivering their daily catch.
When in Vung Tau . TO escape the heat of the day..Take a fast ferry ride to Ho Chi Min city on the local fast Hydrofoil..This is a pleasant trip and not expensive..the ferries leave every 30 minutes and take about twenty minutes for the trip..They dock right at the Main ferry wharf in the city..
This pagoda is not very spectacular when you discover it from the street, but is said to be the oldest of Vung Tau area, rebuilt in 1919, after the French occupied the land and built their houses. . . . .
A very nice tower with a lotus flower motif on the roof, with hundred of gold painted Buddha (Main picture ) statues is the most remarkable sight of this temple, with very elegant dragons above the entrance. A small garden at the back with lotus flowers is a nice place to have a rest for a while.
Inside are a number of statues of deities with rich paintings, where worshippers bring their gifts and burn incense sticks (picture 2), a Buddha with a painted halo (picture 3), a strange warrior with a long red tongue (picture 4) and many other statues; these painted statues are impressive; the main altar (picture 5) is not less impressive with its numerous gold plated statues.
It is really worth to visit inside for some time, watch people and be impressed by the rich decoration of this pagoda which, from outside looks just common until you see the square tower and its roof; you then want to go inside. . . .
Whale Temple is based on a legend that whales protect ships and their crews. Inside this temple are the bones of a huge whale on display in glass cases.
IT is said the local fishermen worship the whale. When a whale dies and washes ashore, the locals will drag it to a while temple such as this one. Along with the ceremonial corpse drag, there will also be a festival with traditional songs and dancing. The bones are typically buried at the temple for three years, then dug up and put on display.
Long Tan - Nui Dat is very important site for Australian veteran.
1 day trip is possible from Saigon.
You can even go a cheaper way by taking hydrofoil to Vung tau.
Go to OSC Travel at no 9 Le Loi st. in Vung tau and they will arrange the permission and tourguide and car to take you to Long Tan. It's best to call them in advance. OSC Travel is the big company that allow to register for groups and individual going to visit this War site.
Many Australian veteran group even do a 2 day trip to cover all sites around this area.
Take a hike up to the Jesus statue on the "Bai Truoc". It can be an arduous climb for the elderlies and the unfits, so beware. Take measures with proper footwear and be prepared to break a sweat. There are several stops along the way, and the views are breathless. After descending to the front entrance, take a motorbike ride to "Bai Truoc", "Bai Sau" to "Sao Mai Port" to have an overall view of Vung Tau beaches. Stop along the way for worth-the-effort beach scenery photos. Another location can be visited is the White Palace (Bach Dinh) on "Bai Truoc". It's an interesting historic building with some ancient china and potteries on display from a recovery in recent salvage off the coast of Vietnam. This building was built by the French for the French Governor of the colonial days, and since then has been passed on to various nobles and government officials (both foreign and domestic) including the last emperor of Vietnam, King Bao Dai. On Friday and Saturday nights, there are Greyhound dogs race in Lam Son Stadium (15 Le Loi Street) with an entrance fee of $20,000 & $50,000 VND. Bets can be placed with real money to be won. For the golf-crazed tourists, there is Chi Linh Golf Driving Range on 3/2 Blvd (approximately 7 Km from downtown). Fees of $30,000 VND for a bucket of 50 balls (with automatic tee loader, which is really nice for those rhythmical driving shots), and $20,000 VND to rent 1 club (in case you did not bring your own). There is also 27-hole Paradise Golf Course which can be played for $50 USD during the week and $75 on weekends. The first seaside golf course in Vietnam with challenging Taiwanese design and beautiful sceneries.
Between Quang Trung street and the beach is a landscaped garden where it is enjoyable to walk around and have a look at a display of numerous modern sculptures; the aesthetic may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is interesting to see there is a little effort to make the place nice. . . . . Probably what is displayed has something to do with recent history, Vietnamese character. . . a conception of art. . . . . The marble statues on the main picture are somewhere between figurative and abstract. . . . Wave and fish (picture 2) are probably symbols of the omnipresent sea in Vung Tau, an interesting maternity on picture 3. There are about 20 sculptures in the garden which is kept clean by very conscientious workers picking the dead leaves one by one (picture 4). . . .
What is nice in the quiet streets of Vung Tau, is that you can sit outside the cafés and watch what is going on in the streets (I write this, because there are many places which are just too crowed and noisy where you cannot sit outside). Yes, I know, for Vietnamese it is a common view, but for me, coming from the “clean” Europe, it is really interesting to watch, to look at this part of local life. Well, just a rickshaw laden with a passenger and bags of all sorts, a conical hat wearing lady contrasting with the sophisticated woman on the add poster, colour matching for this lady (picture 3) on her bike, baskets and bags. . . and here (last picture), color matching again, but yellow this time. Ah! Just look, there is always something to see!
Inside the market hall of Vung Tau, you do not know where and what to look at, so many things can be seen! Here are general views of the market and try to give a bit of the atmosphere. Markets are the important places in a city, no? Without food. . . no life!
Meet people outside the market! On the streets around the market hall are many vendors, and I photographed some of them. Their life is probably not easy, but they do not complain, they have a sort of feeling for happiness, they laugh and smile, and this is contagious! And close looks show funny scenes, like this lady on the main picture, wearing a base ball cap under her conical hat; the blue on the second picture had this contagious laugh! Look tells the one to the other he is photographing you! (picture 3). Outside the market are also busy drinks vendors having all their shop on wheels (picture 4) and some bikes are just “buried” under the goods (Baskets) they transport (picture 5). Just open your eyes, there is always something to see!
The scents, the colours, the shapes, all these things I do not see in my every day’s life. . . I love to visit markets, see the people, the busy vendors, the way they display what they sell, the shouts and laughers of the people; there is life in the markets, and I am never bored when visiting a market! And in South East Asia, it is even more exotic to me! And people are really kind; when you ask if you can make photographs, they rarely refuse! I just enjoyed the smiles of the poultry meat vendor, the lady who prepares small crabs, the vegetable seller. . . . And also there is a very familiar atmosphere, the mother of the laughing lady on picture 4 is sleeping confidently, and the ladies on the last picture found funny I photograph them when one was massaging the neck of the other. . . . Just familiar life. . . . !
I discovered the Dragon Fruit during my first trip to Vietnam in 1998. In Vietnamese, it is called “thanh long” and it is an emblematic fruit of Vietnam. This fruit is strange, with its colour, shape, sweet taste, texture, but more strange is that it is not a Vietnamese fruit at its origin! I learned from a Vietnamese colleague that this fruit called “strawberry pear in English, is the fruit of a cactus, this cactus (Hylocereus undatus) is a very strange cactus, as it is a creeper cactus (yes! there are creeper cactus!). This plant has its origin in Central America and has been imported to Vietnam in the 19th century from the Caribbean (where it is called Pithaya) and is not at all Vietnamese in its origins! And I thought naively it has its name from the sorts of scales it has on its skin, but no. . . it is the shape of the creeper which gives its name to the plant!
Well, every day is something to learn about very simple things of life and about what we discover! I love travelling! There are a lot on sale in the street near the main market ((Nam Khy Khoi Nghia street) (picture 1); in the market itself you cannot miss the dragon fruit among the other fruits and flowers (picture 2). How did it become an emblem of Vietnam? Is it only because the plant is dragon shaped?
Having booked my return to Saigon by hydrofoil, I had a few hours left and walked in the streets of Vung Tau, in the city centre; like in many Asian cities, the little shops are open on the street, and you are almost always welcome to have a look, chat a bit, tell what you do, show your curiosity and accept the curiosity of the shopkeepers. I was just curious when I glimpsed the beauty salon (picture 1) where the customer made signs to come in! (another email in my travel book!); just a picture of ordinary life. . . like on the second picture where the ladies were smiling a lot at the gesturing guy, who tried to ask if he could make a photograph (picture 2). I did not disturb the hairdresser who was sleeping in his chair (picture 3). . . . . . Cleaning the small restaurant where I had a coffee (picture 4), happy to be the attention of the customer. . . . There are also mobile shops, like this Durian vendor (picture 5); the Durian is a wonderful (and smelly!!) fruit! I just like to watch life as it goes in the streets.
When I was looking for the entrance of the whale temple, this lady waved to me, showing me what she had to sell, and wanted to sell me maps or sunglasses; I was not interested, as I already had what I needed and was about to leave her when she pulled on the sleeve of my shirt and with a somehow naughty glimpse in her eyes, she took a few DVD’s from under a cloth she had on her small stall. . . . she wanted to sell me naughty movies. . . . . She looked so. . . .”local”, I was really surprised, and had to smile brightly, and even laugh: I “punish” her with these two pictures she was not fond I take of her! Well, she is a bit hidden, but her expression is there. . . . . just funny. . . I guess there are a lot of these ladies in the streets of Vung Tau.
Notice, this could be a local custom, not only for what she sells, but notice: she in fact hides from the sun, as she even wears gloves; even her hands should not get tan, and so she does also for her face.