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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Exploring Indochina: Down and Dirty in Cu Chi (Tunnels)

Excuse the title. I just couldn't resist. :p 


For our second day in Vietnam, we booked a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels.


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. - from Wikipedia


Our tour guide for the day: Mr. Binh; half-Filipino, half-Vietnamese war veteran

Upon boarding the bus, we were given stickers with the letter 'B' on it to put on our shirts so that Mr. Binh would know that we are part of his group. The guy has lots of stories about the tunnels as well as personal experiences of the Vietnam War. He gets a bit emotional sometimes while recounting the past. 


Before we reached our stopover, Mr. Binh said he had to go to another bus since his colleague is not as good at telling stories, and that he would just meet us again in Cu Chi Tunnels.

We stopped by the Handicapped Handicrafts lacquerware factory
The craftsmanship is impeccable but most items come with a hefty price tag. 

***
Upon reaching the Cu Chi grounds, we went through some sort of underpass before emerging in the 'forest'. There, we sat down to watch a documentary of why and how the Viet Congs built the tunnels. Mr. Binh also showed us the diagram of the tunnels; it was three layers deep with several chambers for cooking, sleeping etc. the bottom layer served as an escape route. 

The Viet Congs may not be as buff as the Americans but they sure know how to use this to their advantage. The Cu Chi Tunnels are testament to their resourcefulness.

Trap door with deadly spikes underneath
sniper hole

More traps can be seen in the Self-made Weapons Gallery. Another proof of the Viet Congs' ingenuity.


After seeing the different kinds of booby traps, we took a break and had refreshments near the shooting range. I'm not kidding! We were serenaded by gun shots while eating ice cream LOL. By the way, they only have snacks so better eat heavy breakfast before joining the tour. 


After the break, it was now time to enter the tunnel! 

One of the exits. The tunnels are made of clay so the bombings only reinforced it.
At the entrance. Definitely not for claustrophobics!


See the guy behind me? We still had to go down a bit and make our way through the zigzagging tunnel. It was made that way so that American soldiers couldn't fire at the Viet Congs.

To attract more tourists, they made the tunnels a bit wider and higher to accommodate westerners. So while they did the duck walk, I was able to tread just by bending at the waist. I thought it was pitch-black inside so I brought my flashlight. Good thing lights were placed sporadically. 

At first it was a bit cool since the walls were kind of moist, but the deeper you go and as more people enter (with people before you stopping periodically to take pictures) it gets a bit exhausting so we just did the first 30 meters and went out.

Finally, here's a short video of our Cu Chi Tunnels experience (please forgive the amateur editing haha):



K

7 comments:

  1. Mr. Binh was also our guide when my mom and I went to Vietnam last July. :) Cu Chi Tunnel was a great experience though the target shooting was a bit hard to the ears during the breaktime.

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  2. daming kwento ni Mr. Binh diba? hehe We wanted to try firing an AK-47 pero di pasok sa budget :p

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  3. Yup, ang dami nyang kwento at pinapakanta nya pa yung mga tao sa bus at dun sa boat pabalik, hehe. :D Oo, di din pasok sa budget ang firing. Medyo bitin lang ako sa tunnel kasi nakaakyat na ako agad sa 2nd exit ata yun kasi sinundan ko na yung tao sa harap ko. Tapos dun na din nag antay sina Mr. Binh

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  4. Hello! Where did you book your Cu Chi Tunnel Tour? What was the name of the agency? Thank you :)

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  5. Hi, Bich Duyen (our accommodation) booked us with Delta Tours :)

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  6. I booked my tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels thru NamVy Travel, Ms. Ha Nguyen, and Mr. Binh was also our guide. We did this tour on 25 October 2012. He was full of stories from the beginning of the tour right until the end. :)

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  7. He has lots of stories, indeed. :)

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