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Old September 18th, 2009, 11:23 PM
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Default Touch of history in Vung Tau

By Kinh Luan in Vung Tau

The hydrofoil from HCMC to Vung Tau gradually reduces speed. I exit through the side door of the hydrofoil and feel at ease with the difference between the windy and sunny world of the coastal city of Vung Tau and the cramped world inside the hydrofoil.

About 120 kilometers from HCMC by road, Vung Tau has been well-known as an ideal destination for relaxing on stunning beaches and finding tranquility among the ancient pagodas. Seen from the sea, Vung Tau, or Cape Saint Jacques as it is called by the French, looks like other famous coastal cities such as the Riviera or Rio De Janerio with its red-tiled villas intermingling with buildings that lean on the mountainsides.

Vung Tau has two mountains. Large Mountain, also called Nui Lon, is in the north of the city and has a fortress that was built in 1788 during the Nguyen dynasty to control the sea. Small Mountain, also called Nui Nho, is in the south of the city and has an ancient fortress built by the French colony in the late nineteenth century.

Now, I do not want to mention the fascinating experience of bathing in the cool water, playing with the waves or lying on the smooth sand beaches, but I do want to share a moving emotion I felt when I stood before the 23 giant cannons. Perhaps they are filled with the blood and tears of soldiers. You can imagine the ragged fellows bending their backs under the sun with pains of being whipped to encourage them to move the guns which weight 15-30 tons each to the curvy mountain tops at a height of 90 meters above level sea.

Eleven guns on Small Mountain are divided into three groups which are about 300 meters apart. The first group is located on the top of Nghinh Phong Cape at a height of 136 meters above sea level and the second includes five guns and is located near a solid underground hideout. The final group includes three guns that are linked together with a communications trench and an underground hideout.

Today, it is easy to reach the site. Tourists can hire a car or take a taxi from the hydrofoil station on Ha Long Street to Nghinh Phong Cape. After conquering some hundreds of stone steps, tourists can reach Small Mountain where the giant cannons are still preserved as historical relics, lying under the rain and the sunlight.

Coming to Small Mountain, tourists can also enjoy the most notable monument in the city, a large statue of Jesus. It was completed in the early 1970s at a height of 32 meters and with two outstretched arms spanning 18.4 meters. It is considered among the tallest statues of Jesus in Asia that has drawed people from around the country.

Photo: A giant cannon under the statue of Jesus on Small Mountain in Vung Tau City - Photo by: Kinh Luan
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