Step back in time to experience the world of the Viet Cong with a glimpse into The Cu Chi Tunnels. It is certainly a great place to get a hands-on look at Vietnamese history. Well, I’m not a history geek nor a history lover. I even almost failed on this matter. haha :p
And to be honest, I never knew much about the Vietnam war until recently, so I’m only just getting to grips with how vast and brutal the combat was.
The Cu Chi Tunnels —a dark and claustrophobic 250km underground network that helped the Southern Vietnamese hide from the Americans during the last war in Vietnam, served as a hiding place, living quarters and barracks for Vietnamese soldiers and their families during the war —
It’s hard to imagine that the peaceful forest could just forty years ago have been home to so much death and destruction.
Bamboo pikes beneath this trapdoor, back in the day splashed with poison. Whoever advanced to this area, shouldn’t be able to return to his comrades to tell about his discoveries.
A row of holes in the ground, each full of spikes arranged in different patterns. Varied in their size, depth, and the particular way they were designed to rupture your body, but they all had one thing in common: they were utterly horrifying. I shrink away while just looking at them.
Further into the woods, we walked past the trenches and then stopped at some old shelters.
Shuffled along to the next attraction: an old American tanker.
And apparently it was time for another photoshoot, as people took turns climbing up onto the tanker and smiling for the camera.
During wartime, Vietnam was ravaged and those torrid years plenty of structures, bases and monuments were completely destroyed. Cu Chi Tunnels, though, remain fairly intact and similar to how they appeared during the time of the war, making them one of the best preserved artifacts of the Vietnam/American War.
Here’s the final encounter where you wou’d be crouching and crawling. Not only it’d be hot, sticky and narrow, it’d be dark. Really dark! :p
But don’t be afraid, 2 frail wooden stairways lead up to the daylight every 20 meters. Sadly, after the first 20 meters, felt choking, the air got tight. Not being able to stood up and just being able to walk in squatting position, drove me insane. So I flee to the daylight. Went out on the first exit, the first 20 meters coz I really wanted to breathe.
The Rest Stop
Before I forget, when we were on the way to Cu Chi, we stopped at a local gallery disguised as a rest stop, where we had to walk through an art factory to get to the bathrooms and outside got some snacks or coffee.
It was interesting to see people working on egg shell mosaic paintings at all stages of the process – and what’s striking there was these artists were disabled. Though expensive compared from buying it at the souvenir shop at Cu CHi, think of it as a donation to them.
I look upon it as a blessing that I was born in Philippines 1989, and not – well, almost anywhere else, at almost any other point in history. Not a day goes by where I don’t remind myself how lucky I am. Today especially.
There are some experiences you can have when you travel that really will get to you. That get deep down within you and make you think. And so this was one of those.