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Love, Trust, and a little bit of Wanderlust If we don't try we will never know, in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.

Chu Chi Tunnels

VIETNAM | Friday, 9 June 2017 | Views [126]

We seemed to have picked a good spot in Ho Chi Minh. The road with most of the bars and restaurants was just around the corner, the covered market was 5 minutes in the opposite direction and there where travel agents everywhere. 

Unfortunately, here is where it was the husband's turn to be ill. He was rough on 2 days, which is really unlike him. But he soldiered through 😳

We booked a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. 

Another place we had heard about. An area of forest that has been adapted for tourists. It has the remains of some of the tunnels used during the Vietnam war. We knew it was going to be massively 'touristy' but we had to visit. It was about a 2 hour drive from the Capital. At this point I am sure that all of our bus drivers are in competition to see who can be ranked the most insane. The last one managed to shave 2 hours of a journey time. This one simply had a death wish. There is no other excuse for playing chicken with busses twice the size of ours or with lorries. At one point one passenger actually let out a little yelp.... I guess it's all part of the experience. When we arrived at the tunnels the car park was crammed with buses. We were given tickets and followed our tour guide into a forest area with huts built into the ground with roofs made of bamboo. 

We were led into one of these huts which was about 7 steps deep into the ground. They played a short video showing Vietnamese fighters during the war and how the tunnel system worked. The tunnels consisted of 3 layers. Each layer served its own purpose and allowed the fighters to cook, clean, sleep, eat, store weapons and ammunition, store food and water and move from place to place, without one affecting the other. The tunnels supposedly ran for miles. All the way to the Mekong River in one direction and as far as Cambodia in the other!

 

After the video we were shown to a tiny hatch in the ground. It had a wooden frame and a wooden 'lid'. A Vietnamese soldier was on hand to show us how the fighters would of used these in the war. He pulled piles of leaves around him and underneath where he sat, he covered the lid with leaves then he lowered himself into the hole, lifted the lid above his head, and dropped into the ground. It was quite impressive how well camouflaged the lid was with the leaves. These holes were tiny. According to the tour guide they are about 50x60 cm. Easy for the tiny Vietnamese farm to fit though but almost impossibly for the big American fighters (so they said). After watching a few of the skinny travellers 🙄 attempt getting into the tiny little entrance hole we moved on to see the types of kitchens they would cook in, the rooms they would meet in, the uniforms they made and wore and the shoes they made from tyres. 

We moved on to an are with a raised platform that was fenced off. There were small holes along the platform and each one showed a different type of traps the Vietnamese would use. Originally, the spikes would be carved from bamboo and hidden in holes in the ground, covered with leaves. These replicas are made from metal, I'm not sure if that is to make them seem more impressive or more terrifying. 

Next we moved to the firing range. Yep. The firing range. Where you can buy rounds from the Army (minimum of 10, maximum of how ever many you want) to fire from a selection of American weapons. At the range there was a gift shop and a corn stand. We tucked into a corn each and tried to find some shade from the relentless heat. Not even halfway through my corn (some people where just paying for theirs) our tour guide started shouting for his group. All of a sudden he was in a huge rush and we had to practically run to catch up to him. Once we rounded a corner he stopped just as quickly as he had took off. He then asked us all to squat down as low as we could (he demonstrated just so there was no confusion) and walk forward. Once he was happy we could all do this he told us anyone with asthma, a heart condition or poor health could not take part in the next bit. He led us to a narrow opening above a flight of steps into the ground. They had created 'tourist tunnels'. These are bigger than the originals, but still tiny, and are much safer, with a proper structure apposed to mud walls, but you get the idea while you are in there. They are cramped, dark and sometimes difficult to move around in. You can't stand, or really turn, you can just squat and move forwards. It's hard to imagine that people might of practically lived in these during the fighting. It's also hard to know to what is truth and what is dramatised as even the tour guide made it clear he was a firm supporter of communism. And when we ask what would happen if two soldiers met going in opposite directions, he just looked confused and moved on.

Regardless of the bias, or the heavy tourist footfall, the place is worth a visit. It's interesting. 

We made our way back to the bus, the journey back was more eventful than the journey there. At one point we hit a hump in the road so fast that pretty much every passenger got air between them and their seats. We had a stop off at a road side restaurant (the common thing to do) and waited here about 30 minutes for the driver to eat. Luckily we made it back to Ho Chi Minh in one piece, no thanks to the driver!

Tags: busses, chi chi tunnels, tourism, travel, vietnam, wanderlust, war

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