Vietnam Day 3 – Cu Chi Tunnels (now with photos!)

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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.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Vietnam Day 3 – Cu Chi Tunnels (now with photos!)

  1. Mr. T

    If you think of the My Lai Massacre and many others which went unreported, napalming and agent orange for which affected Vietmanese children are still being born grossly deformed, you may not have so such warm feelings of your countrymen who fought and died in the war. They all knew what they were letting themselves in for and all could have got on a train to Canada to escape the draft.

    1. Spike Post author

      I don’t agree that they all knew what they were letting themselves in for, especially those who went in the early days. For many, their country called (for reasons good or bad) and their upbringing demanded they answer. Some in my family went to Canada, I would have gone that route if it came to that (but it never did) but it wasn’t an option for all. American atrocities there are not defensible but that’s not say that atrocities weren’t committed on both sides. On the other hand, I spent each day thinking to myself, “How could we have ever gone to war against such beautiful people and wreaked such destruction on such a beautiful country?” In other words, it’s complicated.

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