AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Saigon: Cu Chi Tunnels

Today was our first day in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and we booked a tour to take us well out of the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These are a massive network of tunnels built during the 50s and 60s to hide Vietnamese soldiers and allow them to attack the enemy then disappear. Originally used against the French then expanded during the Vietnam war against the Americans.

We were led into the forest and shown a normal piece of ground. Our guide then started knocking on the ground and in the third tap the sound was a hollow knock. Shifting a couple of leaves revealed a trap door covering s very small hole. Viet Cong soldiers would emerge from the tunnels, lay booby traps or mines then slip back underground unnoticed. The hole was tiny and only just wider than our skinny Vietnamese guide.

We were then shown many types of traps laid out to maim or kill American soldiers. Most of these involved some kind of trap door over a hole filled with spikes. Either spikes on rollers, spikes on the edge to clip the armpits, or many other variations all of which would be pretty horrific to actually witness.

We saw how air vents were hidden from sight and also how the smoke from cooking was hidden.

About halfway through we had to chance to shoot from real machine guns with live ammunition. Having never seen something like this before and gun ranges not been in the usual tourist destinations I leapt on the chance (see here for the video). That was great fun although all my shots missed the target by some distance. I got closest to the target when I posted the gun quite a long way off target.

Then the highlight of the tour was getting the chance to go into the tunnels themselves and actually try to make your way to the next exit. The exits are at 25m, 50m, 75m and 100m. Not really a long way but once you get into the tunnel suddenly it feels a lot further. The tunnels are mostly at a height where you can stand bent 90 degrees at the waist and knees bent, this means you can make reasonable progress. But the height of the tunnel will often reduce to the point at which you have to crouch and waddle along. This was a painful method and after maybe one minute in total my legs had had enough. A few sections of the tunnel were so low going on hands and knees was the only way. Out of our group of 50 only 4 of us actually succeeded in making it through the whole 100m section of tunnel. Afterwards we were dripping in sweat for about 15 minutes. I can’t imagine what it was like for the guerillas to be running for their lives through those tunnels in the heat and humidity. They really did believe in the cause.

There are no pictures from the tunnels because I made a mistake and wiped all the photos from the SD card. Oops.

Posted from Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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