Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cu Chi Tunnel

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July may not a good season to travel to Ho Chi Minh due to the raining season, but my wife and I have already engaged the guided tour together with my parent. My parent arrived first by MAS airline while my wife and I were on Airasia airline. The flight has been delayed for another 1 hour++ due to some technical issue, as usual for low cost budget airline. My wife and I arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport around 9pm and been transferred to Kimdo Royal Hotel at the downtown (Nguyen Hue Street, District 1) by our local tour guide.

The journey to the hotel took around 30minutes due to the usual heavy traffic in the city where motorbikes ruled the road. It’s a daunting experience to ride a bike or drive a vehicle in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or also previously known as Saigon. After check-in the hotel, unpacked our luggage and refreshed ourselves, we headed down the road for late dinner. We went to the nearby famous green chain restaurant, Pho 24 for a tasty broth noodle with beef meat slices and a polished white bowl priced at 36,000VND.

The next day, we woke up at 5.30am and have to depart from the hotel at 7am for an hour journey to Cu Chi Tunnel, even though it’s only 35km from HCMC. Outside the hotel, I tried to snap panning effect photo of the bikes on the busy road. Helmet has been made compulsory due to the high death toll in the city and most of the riders here wore washable cotton mask because of the pollution and dusty road. I believe this also contributed Vietnam H1N1 flu bug was not that high as compared to any neighboring countries.

Cu Chi tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during war, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon storage and living quarters for them. Life was not easy in the tunnel. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, spiders and mosquitoes. Most of the time, guerrillas would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night looking for supplies, tend their crops or engage the enemy in battle. During periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time.

Cu Chi tour guide demonstrated how the Viet Cong hid under the trap door floor and camouflaged.

This is the size of the trap door. Therefore, you need to be slim in order to enter it.

A booby trap with bamboo spikes

Male Viet Cong

Female Viet Cong

American M41 tank was destroyed by a delay mine in 1970

Tour guide showing us various types of booby traps

If you stepped into this booby trap, there’s no way you can pull your leg out from this trap. There a metal spike next to the shoe and the upper 8 spikes facing downward. Wow, I can’t imagine the pain.

An open chamber used to make weapons and bombs

Empty shell bullets up for sale, I did not buy, worried being detained by my country customs officer.

Opportunity to witness how rice paper was made

The black sandals used by the Viet Cong were made of tires

It ain’t heavy, it’s my bazooka

I was invited to crawl into a 10m long tunnel which has been made larger to accommodate larger size western tourist. The tunnel was lighted with low power lights to make travelling through easier.

In the 1960s, B-52 bombers dropped loads of high explosive into the Cu Chi area and exposed some of the tunnels. Below is one of the B-52 bomb craters.

Camouflage shelters were used to cover the open chamber served as kitchen

Then we were served with tapioca that Viet Cong ate and we were given some salt to dip, else the tapioca will be tasteless. My grandparent also had this during the world war.

Some of the remaining missile and bomb shells

Our next destination began right after we refreshed ourselves at the washroom; we were heading to Cao Dai Holy See Temple for devotees daily ceremony.

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