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Vietnam Series: Cu Chi Tunnels


By far the most exciting itinerary in Saigon.

                             
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped achieve ultimate military success. ---> Source

Yup, the Viet Congs are smart. Small but terrible as they say.

I only availed of the half day tour that costs 5 USD. I was fetched by the bus from the hotel and off we go. Interestingly our tour guide is a half-Filipino, half-Vietnamese and former American Citizen Mr. Rivera. He was a war veteran. Served the US troops for a while then he choose to stay in Vietnam after the war.
Photo
Mr. Rivera and the Cu Chi Tunnels Diorama.  It shows how complex and well thought of are these tunnels. 
We started off with the stop-over from the travel agency's sponsor ( I guess?) The mandatory rest in a souvenir shop where they make and sell Vietnamese handicrafts. They also serve food and drinks for those who are really hungry. We're not forced to buy so it's not that bad.  

                                  

What amazed me the most is the use of white egg-shells that they painstakingly crack and glue to the medium (wood or plastic?) for a 3D effect. After putting up the egg-shells they paint it  for the design to pop out. 

                                   

We continued the journey to the tunnels after staying for more than 15 minutes. Mr. Rivera was hilarious and informative at the same time. He has shared to us his experience of the war. My seatmate Steffen (a good lookin' fella from Germany) asked me if I believe a word that he says. I said I don't know in a way he's still interesting. We laughed.

I forgot how much I paid for the entrance fee but that won't be cost more than 10 USD.


We were asked to watch a black and white documentary film about the life of the Viet Congs during the war. Mr. Rivera explained to us one-by-one the function and importance of each 'holes" and "rooms" in the tunnel. 

Then off we go to see the tunnels for ourselves.
Kasya ako diyan noh?!
First of all the soil in Cu chi  its actually clay. Walking there feels like you're stepping on cement it's hard but smooth.

I wasn't able to try this hole (pictured above) because, I have no one to leave my things with. Aaarggghhh! The disadvantages of travelling alone. But I know I can go through there because I saw a lady who's more vertically and horizontally challenged than me was able to go through.

Then comes the booby traps that was simply covered with dry leaves for concealment. Once you step on it expect a surprise tusok.
Now you don't see
Surprise!

Booby traps in different types and sizes.

War Tank. The Photobooth of Cu Chi. You can touch and  climb on it. No worries.
Viet Cong are also resourceful people. They recycle dropped bombs. After tweaking, it was reused as their own weapon.



The last part of the tour was the trek of the clean and longest tunnel open for the tourists. It was headed by the Cu chi guard (guardia civil). You can just go and follow him inside. I wasn't able to finish the tunnel. Because I chickened out! I didn't freaked out but as we go further it was getting darker, colder and smaller. My heart was beating fast. I don't want to bother everyone with my drama, I just went out to the nearest exit. The technique should be, to follow the guide since he's holding a flashlight. Or might as well bring one. I'm going back and try this again if hubby will be with me.

My hands were shaking so this is the only decent photo that I have inside

Exit...Stage right

Relieved
There's a firing range and refreshments available after the tunnel walk. I opted to rest instead of shooting guns. There's this one guy who was laughing at me  because I fidget on the sound of the gunshots. The way back was uneventful but I got to talk to Steffen during the trip back to the hotel. He's a cool guy. He even invited me to visit his country and Europe in general. Too bad I wasn't able to get his e-mail address. I invited him to visit Singapore and Philippines. So wherever he is, good luck to his MBA exchange student programme in Shanghai and further trips for him around Asia.

Cu Chi Tunnels is a must when you visit Vietnam. 


XOXO




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