Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Saigon to HCMC (4)

Cu Chi Tunnel is a must-visit spot in HCMC. Built during the Vietnam War by Viet Cong (the communist gorillas of North Vietnam government that time), the whole tunnel system is more than 200km long and was continuously being built in around 20 yrs’ time. Now the part opened for tourism is only a small portion of the whole system, and divided into three major areas. The most famous and most frequently visited by foreigners is the Cu Chi Area. Here the original tunnel (about 100m long) was preserved so that tourists can try it by themselves, and some exhibition rooms are showing the weapons, traps, tools, etc. used by the Cong at that time. The entrance is about 1.5 to 2 hrs’ (depending on how jam is the traffic…) bus ride from District 1, and the entrance fee is VND80k per person. They don’t have an overall tour guide for the whole tunnel area, so better take a package tour from city.

This tunnel entrance is very famous – you can see photos about it in every travel agency office in HCMC: The entrance is just a 25cmX15cm hole on the ground, and if covered by leaves you could hardly recognize it. The hole is so small that only small-sized Vietnamese can get through. Actually this is the idea of the whole tunnel system: They were built such narrow by intention, so that the big US guys would be “stuck”. I tried the “walk in the tunnel”, which I quit after only 20 meters (No one in my package exceeded the 40m line…). Basically we were not “walking”, but “crouching”, for the inside is only less than 1 meter high. And such a position made my thighs stubborn for the next several days… And I guess when they built the tunnel, they never expected that so many ppl would get into it at the same time (there are more than 40 ppl in my package). The oxygen inside the tunnel almost ran out when everybody got in, and the ventilation was not quite good. So do take care of yourself when you are in.
The gorilla life is full of wisdom: Sandals made of old tires. Disguised landmines. A Trap.
And a piece of video showing how a trap works:
A genius door trap: Nails on the lower half, so that even short guys will get hit; the end part is connected to the main frame with chains, so that even if you catch the main frame in time, the end part will still hit you. And the “nailed ball” in the hand of the tour guide got a very evil name – “Shampoo”. A tank destroyed by landmines and captured by Cong. Clustered bomb dumped by US Air Force, which should have be forbidden after WWII.

And if you are a military fan, there is a shooting area inside that you can buy some bullets and experience the M-16 guns.
The whole tunnel area is smoke-free. And do bring some mosquito-expeller with you. Dengue is still a fatal disease now.

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