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).
The streets of the big South East Asia cities are generally crowded, noisy, dusty, very lively; nothing of that in Vung Tau (250.000 inhabitants, however!). The streets are surprisingly quiet here, and are even dangerous, as, when becoming too confident, and not hearing traffic noise, you tend to walk on the streets, but there are still a few motorbikes and cars who are not used to the western way of walking around; so better keep on the sidewalks (when there are), and enjoy what you see left and right. On the first picture, you see only a few bikes on a main street; the smaller streets look crowded (picture 2), but this is nothing in comparison with the traffic in Hanoi. And there are flowers you can watch quietly in the streets, like this. . . (help me, I do not find back the name of this common flower!) on picture 3, where the rain left its drops, or this frangipani tree and its fragrant flowers (picture 4). There are also beautiful red flowers to look at in the streets.. . . Just walk, your eyes will be caught by the colours!
It began to rain again when I walked on the beach, and, I spotted a small shelter where other people gathered; I was a bit the “attraction” there for half an hour. . . . and I discovered a bit of local people and life. . . . You can meet lots of people, and to the contrary of what I read in some warning and dangers “tip”, there is absolutely no “danger” meeting the kids or youngsters on the beach! To the contrary, I enjoyed it a lot, and there is absolutely no hassle! I had to write down a number of names on my book, all the kids wanted to be photographed, and we laughed when looking on the screen! Made grimaces, tried to find a way to communicate, I had to explain where from I come, tell what I do here, if I found the place nice. . . . usual things when you meet locals who are happy to meet a foreigner. . . . and finally I felt confident enough to even lend my camera (But I also feel confident in my running speed if needed!). So here just a few souvenirs with Haong, Whuong, Yen, Kim, Trahn . . . etc and after picture 5, I thought it was time I take my camera back, as the young girls began to become a bit too familiar with my camera and began to play with it in a manner I did not approve!
When you pass by the Con son island, leave the main road and walk on a small hill, to see the great beach of Vung Tau from above. Well, from far, it is just a beach: long sand shore, people bathing in the small waves, hotels and buildings on the seaside. . . and. . . boats, I mean real boats, used by fishermen, a little bit of real life is still left there, apparently; the boats look funny with the big wheels underneath (picture 2), to trail them into and out water easily, and there were workers on the little ships. A bit further, chairs and umbrellas, like on most of beaches. . . . well, the umbrellas did not need to be opened when I was there (picture 3).. . . . I like the empty beaches. . . . it is so quiet. . . but you can see from the number of chairs and umbrellas (picture 4), that in the good season, there may be quite a lot of people! And on the beach are not only sunbathers or wave bathers. . . . What did this dog think about the foreigner passing by? (picture 5)
Vietnam is a Buddhist country, but on the footsteps of St Francois Xavier, in the 16th century, missionaries converted several places in coastal Asia. The French colonialists probably “developed” Christianism a bit more; it is quite strange to see this huge Jesus Statue on the top of a hill dominating the surroundings; it is not the Corcovado Christ, is “only” 32 metres high and spans his arms over 18metres; I did not walk up inside the statue, but it is possible. The statue has been built very recently (1972), and some say there are secret windows in the arms, for the purpose of watching the area, and “spying” what is going on in the small city. . . . . Is religion a pretext?
The Buddhist are may be, more modest and they choose the small Con Son Island to built a temple or pagoda (An Son Pagoda); the story says that Lady Phi Yen, wife of Emperor Gia had been jailed by her husband on charge of treachery, and when she came out of prison, she found her son (killed by the emperor) was dead, and she buried him on the small island; when she died in a small village, beloved by the inhabitants, these decided to built a pagoda in her memory. . . . Many of the little temples, shrines have sad stories at their origins. . . . On the two first picture is the Anson Pagoda seen from the cliffs above the shore, and the Christ is on the following pictures, but I feel the island with the pagoda has much more charm, even under heavy sky (picture 5).
Of course, the landscapes, the skies, the sea are beautiful, but people also have beauty; stop here or there, watch the people taking a bit from the marine breeze, the fishermen, the girls picking the mussels in the rocks. . . . The kids (main picture) have wonderful and curious eyes, this man alone on the seashore (picture 2) express something poetic, no? This young girl picking mussels in the rocks (picture 3) was not clothed as I would have expected from a fisherman (woman!), a nice contrast with the environment! Not like this guy (picture 4) who looks more like a typical fisherman, having a rest and dreaming.
Travels and discoveries need time; . . . taking time is a must in some places to begin to “feel” a place, to begin to get immersed in the ambiance in some way. . . . So walk slowly along the shore and do not think about the coming rain. . . . look, feel the place, enjoy!
Most of us usually like to have sunny weather when going to the beach, have a bright blue sky, blue waters. . . etc. . . . This certainly exists in Vung Tau, but the weather is luckily not always the same, and thunderstorms, heavy rains besides being useful for the farmers have a special beauty on the sea side too. And when the sunlight sometimes finds a narrow hole in the black clouds to shine out on the dark waters, it is really special! Who cares if a rainfall is threatening when you can enjoy such views? When you walk along the shore you have time to see the sky and the light changing, can stop at every time to admire the sea and the sky; on a bike, and of course in a car, it may not be the same; walking has lots of advantages. . . :) . Here are a few pictures taken during a late afternoon walk on the peninsula. For photography, I am like a “Sunday dauber” for painting, I am sure the photographs could be much better, but, well, I try to show what I have enjoyed. . .
We are here on the seaside, and many people earn their living on the shores, sandy beaches and rocky beaches. There are fishermen who walk in the shallow waters of the sea, laying out their nets and pulling it back to the shore; many women look for crabs hidden in the rocks, other pick mussels. . . . It is just nice to watch people working in this quiet environment, no hassle, no stress, nice life in some way, even it must be hard to earn one’s living here on the beaches.
Local fishers anchor their boats near the south western tip of the peninsula of Vung Tau, and when they are grouped in the harbour, it is a nice view, in the morning or evening, with oblique light. These small boats are mainly designed for shrimps and crab fishing, and so contribute to the wonderful seafood you can eat in Vung Tau; notice how laden with traps they are; in a few hours these traps will be laid on the sea ground, on “secret places” and later the fishermen will come back to pull the traps onboard, hopefully with good catches. Walk along the seaside road, (Ha Long), take one of the stairs going to the shore and look at the boats and the busy sailors. And here, like almost every where, the dominant colour of the fishing boats is blue.
Bach Dinh is a villa on the edge of the large mountain that presents nice views over the Front Beach (Bai Truoc). This mansion was built to house the rich and influential, now it is just a run-down building housing a museum, with a cannon overlooking the harbor.
You can follow the road around the headland from where the hydrofoil docks. There are plenty of small cafes and bars, even a "Kangaroo Bar". Keep following the coast. The Hon Ba Pagoda makes a great photo, but can only be reached on low tide. I can imagine it would be a great spot at sunrise. Look to the left away from the coast and you will see "Big Jesus" statue on the top of the hill. Reminds me of the huge one in Rio De Janerio. Continue around and down to the next strip of beach you will see that it is a rather ordinary beach. Plenty of beach-front restaurants. We were there on a week day and it was rather quiet. Local tourists were swimming but it was not really appealing to us. Loved the tusnami warning sign with westerners fleeing the beach!
A giant, 100 foot tall statue of Jesus was constructed above the back beach on a lower slope of Small Mountain in the mid 1970s. I am told there are steps inside that lead up to his shoulder and a great view.
A similar statue of Mary is located on Big Mountain (Nui Lon) north of Front Beach.
Say, aren't Vietnamese people Buddhists?
This huge statue of a legendary warrior can be seen behind Palace Hotel, along Nguyen Trai St. There are many pubs and restaurants around this area which are popular night spots for locals and foreigners alike.
The White Villa commands a beautiful view of Vung Tau city and its bay. It was built by a French governor. King Thanh Thai and King Duy Tan were also held here for some years. It is now a museum housing artefacts and items saved from shipwrecks off the coast of Vung Tau.
Entrance fees - VND5,000
The front beach is more of an esplanade with parks. It is a favorite place for the locals to stroll and enjoy the sea breeze. Do it on weekend nights and you could really soak up to the leisurely lifestyle of the locals. The area is quite busy on weekend nights with families and dating couples all along the beach.
Or drop by during sunset and marvel at the 'bay of boats'.