Thursday, February 2, 2017

Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels

January 14, 2017

Starting at 6:30 AM, we took the public bus to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels. 2 bus transfers, and 3 hours later we finally made it to the tunnels. When we reached, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was surprised when we found that Cu Chi used to be a small village. There were small huts and as we toured around we saw the agrarian lifestyle that these villagers lived before it was disrupted by the war.

Entering the old village 
After lunch, we began touring the actual tunnel complex. Before entering the tunnels however, there was an informational video that talked about the war. As an American, I felt somewhat awkward watching the film talk about how Vietnamese soldiers were given awards for killing American soldiers and how wrong it was for America to start this war of aggression. It is curious to see this depiction of Americans (which is not undeserved) while in Vietnam, but at the same time be treated so warmly and kindly by the by our Vietnamese friends—I guess this shows how far U.S.-Vietnamese relations have come since the war.

Samir exiting a tunnel
After the video we had a chance to experience the tunnels and see how they were inter-connected. Underground, there was a top layer about 2 meters deep that had storage rooms, the hospital, sleeping rooms, and other functional spaces. Deeper underground were tunnels that the Vietnamese had to hide in during bombings. This tunnel was so deep that they had to install bamboo stalks to provide breathable air. This bamboo was camouflaged perfectly as a rock on the surface so the tunnels remained undiscovered.

As can be seen by the pictures, the tunnels were extremely narrow and this amazed me. I was exhausted and uncomfortable after 20 minutes of traveling through the tunnels and that even included walking above ground! We explored about 150 meters of the tunnels, but the full network of tunnels was over 250 kilometers. I cannot imagine how people could remain in these tunnels for weeks, or even days at a time!

In front of the Memorial
On our way back from the tunnel, we stopped to visit the Ben Duoc Temple of Martyr Memorial and appreciate its beautiful architecture. We then began the journey home and crashed in our beds after a long, but fruitful day.


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