So I've been back from my Vietnam trip for a week. But it's taken me this long to organise myself. I arrived in Tullamarine on Sunday morning after an overnighter and then drove home two hours. Then straight back to work on Monday. Somehow, my place is still an untidy mess :-)
On the positive side, I managed six training sessions this week. After all the genteel sightseeing, sitting around and eating in Vung Tau, this really was good. The nearly three kilograms I put on during my trip, I lost within four days after I returned home. My body has that nice worn (slightly trashed) feeling again. Life is almost back to normal...
Ok, now to the answer to what Vung Tau has in common with Rio.
It has a massive statue of Christ. It is actually bigger than the one in Rio (unless you count the pedestal it stands on). According to Wikipedia:
"It is 32 metres (105 ft) high, standing on a 4 metres (13 ft) high
platform, for a 36 metres (118 ft) total monument height with two
outstretched arms spanning 18.3 metres (60 ft). There is a 133-step
staircase inside the statue."
As the statue is on top of a small mountain, there are quite a few steps on the way up. Someone mentioned about 400 (but don't quote me on that). We did go up inside it, and you end up standing inside the shoulders to look out. Looking down, on the gardens below:
You get a good view of the city of Vung Tau:
All the way up to the statue, and on top of the hill, there are nice gardens with small statues, potted flowers and ponds. Fantastic.
It appears that Vung Tau has a large Christian population. So there are several big churches and big statues all over the peninsula. The strong Buddhist tradition means that there are many beautiful pagodas and Buddha statues as well. From certain vantage points, you can see several large statues from both faiths on the hills at the same time.
We visited three pagodas while I was in Vung Tau. I was blown away by the architecture, the gardens and the artwork everywhere.
Vung Tau is a busy port city. I understand that about 200,000 people live there. It certainly has some pretty busy streets. Though of course, not as busy as Saigon. And let me tell you, the traffic in Vietnam is different to the traffic in Australia :-) Some cars, lots of taxis, loads of motorbikes and bikes. Everyone beeps all the time, signs and traffic lights are suggestions only and nobody on two wheels thinks twice about using the wrong side of the road. Roundabouts are fun! I stayed with friends. The get about on motorbikes, so I had lots of rides on the back, which gave me the opportunity to sample the traffic from close up.
I ate lots of pho and bun and other noodles, but also sampled fantastic seafood and some of the awesome cakes and bread (which, like a lot of the architecture, stem from the time when the French were in Vietnam). I also love the Vietnamese style coffee. Coffee drinking is a bit of a pastime in Vietnam. Coffee can be had in upmarket seaside coffee shops or in hammocks strung between trees by the roadside.
So yeah, it was an interesting week. And thanks to my friends Tuyet and David, I saw a lot of different things and had a great time.