Monday, June 16, 2008

Vung Tau (June 14-15)

The Boyfriend and I had been planning on spending a beach weekend in Vung Tau (or Cap Saint-Jacques as it was known by the French) for a while now. However, The Boyfriend has been trying to get his visa renewed and so did not have his passport. All hotels in Vietnam require passports and we didn’t want to risk going without one. He finally got his passport back this past week and so off to Vung Tau we went.

Vung Tau is an hour and fifteen minutes by ferry (hydrofoil) from HCMC. A one way ticket costs 140,000 (about 9 USD). We booked our tickets on Thursday for Saturday morning and many of the morning departures were already solidly booked. We therefore booked to leave at noon and come back at 3 pm the next day.

The Saigon River is not very clean...

Big net on that fishing boat!

It was bright and sunny as we approached Vung Tau!

I searched for hotels and we decided to splurge on a nicer one with a pool. A standard room went for 55 USD (up until now, our stays have not gone over 27 USD!). We wanted a pool because although Vung Tau is on the water, it is highly polluted due to offshore drilling. We were not willing to go swimming downriver from HCMC! All the pictures of The Petro House seemed very nice. It was described as a boutique hotel.

We were rather disappointed to see our small and smelly room, with a window facing… a wall! We went back to the reception and demanded another room. We were told that they’d show us another room and if we weren’t happy we would have to get a deluxe room. The second room had a view of the pool. It still wasn’t what I’d imagine a boutique hotel room to be, but it was much better than the first room we got. This proves that it’s true: you should never accept the first room you’re assigned at a hotel!

The pool at the Petro House.

As described by the hotel brochure "the only Gourmet and Garlic dining room in Vung Tau". I've never eaten at a Garlic dining room before...

The much better view from our second bedroom.

On our arrival, we decided to lounge at the pool. We decided that we could go for a walk later to see the sunset on top of a pagoda. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining brightly. Unfortunately, the pool was as small as a private pool; fortunately, we were the only one using the pool (and the only two lounge chairs!). When we decided we were ready for our walk is when it started raining. And pouring. And raining some more. I even convinced The Boyfriend that it stopped raining. As we walked around, we realized it wasn’t true. So we spent the rest of the evening at the hotel. No sunset for us!

The rain or dirty waters didn't stop some from going for a swim.

The next morning was bright and sunny again. After breakfast and a quick dip in the pool (we were alone again!), we got a taxi ride to the Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda where we were expecting a nice view. It wasn't quite high enough on the mountain. So we walked back toward the ferry station and stopped for a drink. We'll have to come again to explore some more and hope for better weather!

Can you see the back of the giant Jesus statue?

At the Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda.

At the Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda. This Buddha isn't quite as big as the reclining Buddha in Bangkok!

Vung Tau coast.

Fish traps on the coast.

As we leafed through our menu, The Boyfriend pointed that the picture strangely looked like... a Big Mac! Can you sing the Big Mac song?

A little red tugboat pulling a rig. (The Boyfriend's observations. I wouldn't notice these things!)

I think these were for rent, right by the road.

As we waited for our ferry back, this little boy was wearing a big furry hat, in sharp contrast to the girl in a straw hat, fanning herself!

This is our hydrofoil. It can hold over 100 passengers!

Can you see the water spout (which is like a water tornado)? Again one of The Boyfriend's observations.


Wandering Chopsticks said...

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. :)

Vung Tau looks sleepy. Not much to do huh?

Gastronomer said...

I'm glad you got some sunshine during your stay :-)! Your mission is to convince THE BOYFRIEND to come to Mui Ne next weekend...

Mai said...

hi, i left a comment on your March 10 post about learning vietnamese, i thought maybe you moderated your comments, but no. so, maybe you won't see it (unless i reference it here) :).. i'm enjoying reading your blog and hope to take many trips as well before i leave hcmc. cheers!

Miss.Adventure said...

Hi Mai,
I e-mailed you but you can check out this website for Vietnamese classes:

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Mai said...

thanks! didn't receive an email, that's the problem with trying to spell it out all tricky like, especially with a weird url like mine. thank you though, i got the link and will pursue private classes immediately. cheers!

Miss.Adventure said...

I tried to send you another e-mail. I was mentioning that sometimes I go out for lunch with other VK and you're welcome to come!

Mai said...

i'd love to go with you to lunch :), but i haven't received any emails from you :(, i think the url is hard.... try [magpie at gmail] for the email, mai at might be hard if you aren't used to a .st extension. thank you again for the link!