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Visiting the Cu Chi tunnels of the Vietcong

The Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon give an insight view on how the Vietnamese war was fought by the Vietnamese. We take a day tour from Saigon and experience how the Americans could never win this war.

Our last day in Saigon we take a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. There is only one tour operator open because of Tet, the Vietnamese new year, and it is crowded in their office. Entrance to the Cu Chi TunnelsConsequently, the bus leaves an hour late. Traffic in Saigon is hectic, and we're glad when the bus reaches the outskirts of town, although the roads are not improving.

Around 11 AM we arrive at the Cu Chi tunnels. First, a movie is shown depicting the terrible Americans and the brave Vietnamese during the war. It makes us clear how proud the Vietnamese are about winning the war, and about the way they achieved that.

After the movie we are shown an entrance to the tunnel. A hole of 20 by 30 centimeters, covered with a wooden lid, camouflaged with leaves. Everybody can try to get in, except for the fat tourists.

Self-built Traps

Then the tour continues along horrible self-built traps with a lot of iron and bamboo spikes. Among others, the "souvenir trap" is shown, a trap where the spikes cut deep into the trapped leg, so that the whole trap would have to be taken along to be removed later.

There is also a conquered American tank, and enthusiastic tourists are given the opportunity to shoot machine guns. Sick, but true.

Crawling

The highlight of the tour are the tunnels themselves. We are allowed to crawl inside them, which most of us do. The first one is a tunnel adjusted for tourists. This one is a lot bigger than the normal ones, so that even the fat tourists can experience them. And experiencing them means experiencing the heat and sweating inside. Even in the big tunnel, we need to bend or crawl. In the second tunnel, a real one, bending is not an option anymore. Other than that, the experience is the same: a lot of heat and a lot of sweat.

Overall, we got impressed by the Cu Chi Tunnels. We now know a bit more about the way this war was fought, highlighted from the Vietnamese (or communist) point of view. Before we came here, we wondered how an attacking force (the communists from the North) could use guerilla tactics. But here we saw how easy it was to recruit the South Vietnamese, by pointing out what the Americans were doing to their country. And it appeared to us that the Americans could never win to the highly motivated Vietnamese with their destructive tactics.



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