Vung Tau – First impressions

We caught the Saigon-Vung Tau Hydrofoil. A futuristic looking fast ferry that is Russian built. Like all things Russian, (in my experience) it looks magnificent at 100 metres and tragic close up. The Vietnamese don’t help as repair and maintenance doesn’t feature beyond keeping the engines working. Screws and rivets rusting out, few light globes working, bits of timber falling off everywhere and all of this moving along at maybe 60 kph. An accident waiting to happen. On this occassion, all integral parts maintained close formation and we arrived at Vung Tau 1hr 15 min later to be met by two regiments of small people all shouting something that sounded like Taksi!! I’d forgotten about the standard Vietnamese marketing ploy of harrassing the shit out of people from several flanks at once until they fold and buy something. We succumbed and caught a taxi to the Ettamogah Pub. Any Australian, or any other westerner for that matter, should drop in at the Ettamogah Pub. Run by Alan and Anh, (Aussie and Vietnamese) the place offers a bolt hole for frazzled travellers. No Vietnamese Marketing Assaults allowed inside, the food is good, the bar girls bad very good and Anh is always keen to help Aussie Vets looking to go to old battle scenes. Any vets reading this site should be aware that going back in time never really works. Nothing is the same. The town now has a population of about 200,000; a two lane highway leads to Baria and the back beach is now a resort site with kilometers of hotels and bars removing money painlessly from tens of thousands of tourists. The Flags, the site of thousands of drunken RVs, no longer exists. The Peter Badcoe Club has gone although the pool was only recently ripped out to make way for another jerry buily hotel. In short, I recognized nothing at Vung Tau – it was as if I had never been there before. I’m hoping for better results tomorrow when we go to look at Baria, Nui Dat, Long Tan, Hoa Long, Phuoc and all points inbetween. Until then stay safe and enjoy your Christmas


  • Greetings,

    You wrote:

    “Like all things Russian, (in my experience) it looks magnificent at 100 metres and tragic close up”.

    Not a whole lot of the women Kev, not a whole lot.



  • kev, I always thought that the AK47 was the only Russian consumer success. I am told it is reliable, cheap, mass producible, easy to maintain, etc.

    have a good trip

  • Merry Christmas, Kev.

    While you’re in Vietnam, you may have missed this story from Australia:

    One of the most heroic episodes of Australian military history is set to become a big budget feature film with a big-name cast.

    First-time producer Martin Walsh is planning to bring Vietnam’s infamous Battle of Long Tan to the big screen.

    With a proposed budget of $15 million to $23 million, Walsh intends to approach Australia’s best known actors, including Russell Crowe, Eric Bana, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown and Sam Neill, to join the project.

  • Glad you are enjoying your visit. If you get a chance, head out to Tay Ninh and the Cu Chi tunnels. If you start early enough you can take in the amazing Cao Dai temples in Tay Ninh, especially the mid-day service, as well as a visit to the tunnels all in one day.

    The Viet army has done a fairly good job of opening some of the tunnels up for “western” sized tourists. There are multi-lingual displays and souvenirs. (The 40mm “grenade” cigarette lighters are cute.)