Julie’s a new coworker who just started last Monday. She asked if I wanted to join her, her husband and 3 friends on a trip to Vũng Tàu Saturday, a 90-minute boat ride from HCMC. They’re all Indonesian, work in advertising, and have been in Vietnam from 1-2 months so far. Only catch: Meet at 6am for a 6:30am boat. Here we are just before we left:
l to r: Anzela, Anzela’s mom, Julie, Julie’s husband, me.
Snooze and Lose! Not pictured is “Nino”, their friend who overslept and joined us later. He woke up about 20 minutes before the boat left and missed it by just 2-3 minutes. This meant he had to buy another $13 boat ticket, as the one was nonrefundable. They said he’s slow like a turtle and is late to everything. Here’s our early-morning boat:
We got to Vũng Tàu and took this pic while we decided whether or not to wait for Nino:
KFC is gross all over the world, but in HK and Vietnam, they serve the most acceptable egg tarts you ever had. (The gals in HK were crazy for them.) This was the best candidate for breakfast when we got off the boat, so we went for it.
Rip-off Taxi Since before I got to Vietnam, I’ve read about rip-off taxis with the meters tampered, but until today had never been in one. Vinasun and Mailinh are supposedly the only two reputable taxi companies and this cab was a Mailinh. Our trip to the statue cost 250,000 VND ($12.50) while Nino’s, who came separately, was 40,000 VND ($2.) Btw, they charge by distance, not by number of people.
Vũng Tàu Jesus: Taller than the Brazil one, or not? The Vietnamese claim that the Jesus in Vũng Tàu is 32 meters – 6 feet taller than Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. This Wikipedia entry, among other sites, support that. However, this Wikipedia entry on “List of Statues By Height” puts Vung Tau Jesus at 28m and Brazil Jesus at 30m. On this list of “Notable Jesus Statues From Around The World” they also have it at 32m (105 feet).
So which is it, 28 or 32 meters? If only there were a way to accurately measure things…
Either way, the one in Brazil is on a mountain 7 times the size of this one so… point, Brazil. (This is all a competition, right? To see who can build the highest… anything?)
On the way up there are dozens of benches enscripted with the names of people who donated money to the monument. Here are ones from Milipitas, CA and from New York.
More pics from the way up:
Christ and the Cannon. Just beside the enormous Jesus, was this 100+ year old cannon used to shoot at those French who insisted on territorializing Vietnam for a century. I managed to get the huge cannon and the huge Jesus in a few pics together.
Shoulder Nails. Ever since one too many people ventured out onto Giant Jesus’s arms, they installed this clever bed of nails on each shoulder. The space was so tight and cramped up there – barely room for 4 small ones like me – I kept poking myself trying to get a decent pic of Julie! Dang Jesus-nails poking me in the back!
It’s 90 degrees. Put on some clothes! No one in our group knew of the very-strict, no-shorts, no-tank tops rule for going inside Giant Jesus. Even this review on travelfish doesn’t say anything about shorts in the statue (but does mention tank tops.) Luckily, Anzela’s mom’s a genius and came prepared with a huge scarf that we all took turns skirting-up. (The guys were too beat to climb more stairs, so they forewent inner Jesus.)
Fashion Police. This dude was not messing around. You have on shorts? “No!” Tank top? “No tank top!” If he deemed your clothes “impolite”, as the sign says, then you! m’dear are out of luck!
Here we are! All appropriate and “polite”.
Pics from inside:
Doggie Photoshoot. We emerged from the statue and look what I found! A pup ready for the cyber-screen. Look how the camera loves her! I named her Pippi.
Haunted House. We tried to visit this (supposedly) haunted house, but squatters – complete with kids, chickens and mopeds – wanted 100,000 VND ($5) to let us in. We counter-offered half that and they declined so we left. Only later did we find out that this sign reads, “Keep out. Do not enter.” Oh well. Gate was open.
Mus Mus We got back to HCMC and Jule and her husband were dying to go to Mus Mus, their favorite hot pot place – all you can eat for $10. But you have to wait while each helping cooks in your pot. Long-story-short: I’m sure we sat there 2 hours while our 8 helpings of meat and veggies steamed and were eaten, one by one. All said, it wasn’t worth the time investment, especially after such a long day.