Cu Chi Tunnels, HCMC, Vietnam

This vast warren of underground dirt tunnels were the HQ for the Vietcong in the late 60’s/7o’s.  They spread from Cu Chi (2h from HCMC) right to the Cambodia border. They are made even more remarkable as they were dug on the whole by hand, and maybe the odd handmade trowel here and there.

Our tour guide (Ken) called us all ‘his family.’ The place is swarming with tourists and the guides all have pet names for their groups. We heard lots of ‘this way my brothers’ too. Ken talked gave us a lesson in Guerilla Warfare 101, in case any of want to start our own gory bloodbath, but I have to say he showed us some great tips. Here are my top three things I’ve learnt today.

1) The first is not war related, he told us on the bus on the way there. HCMC is home to 8 million people. And guess how many motorbikes? 5 Million. And all of these are in the last 36 years, since 1975.

2) He showed us a whole range of boobie traps. To give you a visual think of the classic ‘leaves camouflaging a bear pit’ with some bamboo spikes thrown in for extra gore. Very like Leo in the beach when he goes rogue agent and tries to wind up the farmers. Ken proudly demo’s them all, then proudly smiled when he showed us ‘his favorite.’ Macarbe hey, but you know if you are going to have a fave weapon of war, his was a good choice – more bamboo spike rotaries that speared you if you struggles then speared you harder if you were rescued too. Nasty.

3) Now this one is genius. Those clever Vietcong not only fashioned some fetching flipflop shoes out of old tyres. You can but these for $2 and apparently they last you years. BUT they designed them so that they look back to front. In other words, when they were walking away, and American troops tracking their steps, it looked like they were walking backwards! No wonder it took the best part of 10 years to defeat them. Dragon’s Den anyone.

After this surprisingly decent tour, we had a horrible 15 mins at a shooting range where men with inadequacy issues can pay 300,000 dong to fire 10 bullets from an AK43. Insensitive if you ask me, and unnecessarily loud.

Then we separated the wheat from the chaff when we got the chance to crawl through one of the 100m tunnels. They have widened it slightly to accommodate fat Europeans, and ironically Americans, and there are ‘get out’ hatches every 20 meters as apparently most people freak. There are sections where it’s so slim you have to slide down feet first and it’s obviously baking hot down there too. Only 4 /26 of us (yeah that includes me, did you expect anything less!) were good little Vietcong and finished the job. It’s a tiny glimps of the horrific claustapobia and ventilation issues that women and children had to suffer, sometimes up to 10 meters deep. But without taking anything away from the tourist trap it is today, after Potosi mines in Bolivia with its dangerously illegal digging and the small dynamite factor, Cu Chi is Disneyland.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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