The Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the major tourist attractions in the Saigon area. It’s a series of tunnels used by the Viet Cong for staging guerrilla attacks against the American and South Vietnamese armies during the war. There are lots of ways to get there – we chose a tour company called Saigon River Express because a boat ride up the Saigon River seemed like a more interesting journey than sitting in a bus or a van. It costs a lot more (US$69 per person, including a buffet lunch served on the boat on the way back to Saigon vs. an average of US$25 for a bus tour). Is it worth the extra money? That’s a matter of opinion – mine is that the boat ride was more interesting than the tunnels. Here’s a sampling of shots that I took along the river.
As for the tour of the tunnels themselves, a lot of it was basically standing around staring at holes in the ground.
And we got to crawl through a tunnel – specially widened for fat-assed western tourists! – and get a splendid view of this:
In all seriousness, it’s actually a pretty good history lesson and one can only marvel at some of the ingenious ways that they did this – digging a massive series of tunnels in an area constantly patrolled by the enemy, 16,000 people living down there – though there is a certain amount of “here’s another thing we came up with to maim and kill Americans.” Which if nothing else helps you understand their perspective. As the only American in our tour group, it seemed as if each time our guide would tell us something like, “and then the tunnel would narrow and the fat Americans would get stuck and we could come up behind them and shove a bamboo spear up their butt,” he’d glance over at me looking perhaps a little bit apologetic.
Actually, I felt more than a little weird hearing these descriptions and then seeing a film by “Liberation Studios” filled with archival footage of brave 14 year old village girls leaping out of a tunnel to kill another American. I may have been against the war but I certainly wasn’t against the Americans who fought and died in the war. And so as much I was against the war, I felt more than a little twinge in my chest about the whole thing.
Well, the lunch on the return boat ride was nice.