Vietnam Is Crazy

Nothing sums up the craziness of Vietnam like Vung Tau.

Vung Tau, a one-hour ferry trip from Ho Chi Minh City, is home to the Phuc Dat Hotel and the Dic Star Hotel. It has a whole series of beautiful Buddhist temples, all next to each other, all overlooking the sea. And it has a giant Jesus statue on the top of a mountain, just like Rio.

It has a fancy waterfront cafe with 400 statues of David and 800 plaster cherubs.

It has local places, built over stinky mud-sand, that serve the best seafood in the world. Seafood that tastes fantastic despite the mud-stink.

It has bike hire places that rent out “love bicycles”, pint-sized tandem bicycles that couples ride up and down the town’s big hill. And at night the couples convene near a sea wall overlooking the ocean, snacking on street food as vendors wheel around portable weighing machines that print out little slips of paper listing your weight and your horoscope.

Vung Tau also has the most bizarre street art. In a country that is suprisingly conservative, where people live at home with their parents even AFTER they’re married and good girls keep their shoulders and knees (and just about everything else) covered through the most hot and humid summers imaginable, there are giant statues of rude bits.

It has giant hedges shaped like dragons.

And it has a giant Do Your Homework statue.

There’s an average beach, where people swim fully-clothed. In tight denim shorts. And then sit on the sand in wet denim shorts and act like nothing is chafing.

Some men try to act Western and strip down to their underpants to have a swim. During one Vung Tau trip, Darling Man spotted a fat-bellied guy who’d been swimming in his white undies. Being the subtle type like me, Darling Man pointed and shouted “jellyfish pants!”. He couldn’t remember the word “transparent” so used the closest English word he could think of. (I’m sure I took a photo of Mr Jellyfish Pants but I can’t find it.)

A friend is coming to Vietnam next week. She is intrigued by Vietnam’s craziness, so of course I’m taking her to Vung Tau.

I’m going to take her photo in front of the Dic Star Hotel and in front of the Phuc Dat Hotel. I’m going to make her climb the 7,000 steps to the giant Jesus statue, where she can buy an oversized straw hat and sit on cannons left over from the war. I’m going to take her to a bahn khot place to she if she tries to drink the dipping sauce and I’m going to take her to eat steamed flower crab and salt-and-chili prawns and wasabi oysters.

Well, we’re going to do as much of that as we an with a two-year-old in tow. And Darling Man will be there, looking like a rock star with a Western woman on each arm.

And the craziest thing about our crazy weekend? Apart from the fact that it won’t be the weekend? I have never met this friend. She has a crazy blog that I like. And she likes my crazy blog. So we started emailing, acknowledging that it was totally creepy and stalker-y. And so I made a new friend – yay! And now we’re going away together… to crazy Vung Tau. I think we’re going to have a ball. In a crazy internet stalker-y Vietnam kind of way.

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10 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Heather says:

    Love it. All of it.
    Heather recently posted..South Africa in Technicolor

  2. i love all of it, too. i esp want the dragon hedge, and the do your homework statue. lol!
    wandering educators recently posted..The Swannanoa Gathering: Teaching and Learning Music in the Mountains

    • Barbara says:

      The do your homework statue is actually Tran Hung Dao, a Vietnamese military leader who managed to repel the Mongol hordes (led by Kublai Khan) in the 1200s. I have no idea why there are so many statues of him pointing down, though. I will have to find out, won’t I?

  3. Monica says:

    Haha, I feel so weird having internet friends but I love it too!

    And Vietnam is such an amazing place. I was only there for 2 weeks but I so want to go back and bask in the weirdness of it all.
    Monica recently posted..Sunset Sunday: Australian Outback

  4. Sounds like a fun place. Enjoy your crazy weekend!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Ambrosia: The Tarijeño Breakfast of Champions

  5. […] spend three days in Vung Tau eating seafood and bánh khọt, visiting giant Jesus and Buddha statues and driving motorbikes out […]

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