We had an early arrival at the river port of Phu My so we were up at 6am and on deck to watch the sun rise as we cruised upriver to the port of Phu My. The ship is to large to navigate up river to Ho Chi Minh. and Phu My is the deep water port for Ho Chi Minh city which is about a 2 hour drive away..
The fishing boats were also out and hauling in there catches as we sailed by. You cannot help but notice the amount of construction going on here with several new container wharfs and other still being built.
Residents here still call Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon. s we had visited here a year or so ago we decided to catch the shuttle bus to Ba Ria and town and market about 45 min away. We walked around the Ba Ria town, the streets were clean and lined with flower gardens and trees. There are a surprising number of churches here, we visited the modern Baria Cathedral where a bride and groom where having there photos taken.
After some shopping we caught a taxi to the resort town of Vung Tau about 20 min away. Vung Tau was a popular resort for the French and later the US and Australian troops during the Vietnam wars. The cities most famous landmark is the tall statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the South China Sea.
We stopped for a late lunch of large king prawns and blood cockles at a seafood restaurant near the beach. We got ripped off again (we made the same mistake the last time we were here). Be wary when asking for the cheaper dishes when the response is ‘no have no have’ pointing you to the seafood dishes, and a word of warning when buying seafood meals sold by the 100 grams in tourist areas of Vietnam ask for the price first!! The 4 king prawns were 600,000 dong. They were great prawns however at A$30 or A$7.50 each they should be!!
Nevertheless we had a great day and we returned to the ship at around 4pm we skipped our early seating dinner to stay on deck and watch the sunset departure down the river and to the open sea.
In 1859 the French captured Saigon and then the rest of Vietnam. Saigon was known as the Paris of the East. Vietnam still has some French influence and is one of the few Asian countries where great French bread (Vietnamese rolls in Australia) is sold on the street food stalls along with the traditional foods.
Ho Chi Minh declared independence from the French in 1945 and the resulting indochina war culminated in a humiliating defeat for the French. Vietnam was then divided into two zones with Hanoi the capital of the North. The communist Viet Kong successfully reunited North and South Vietnam after the Vietnam War in 1975.