Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cu Chi Tunnels: Unbelievable survival techniques

The world knows about the Vietnam-America war. After all it has been portrayed in so many Hollywood movies and books. But, what was portrayed in those movies was only a small bit of the entire enchilada. Unfortunately for Vietnam they were invaded by a lot of countries, France, China, Russia and United States of America. And all these wars happened in spite of Vietnam not having anything of tangible or intangible value to the attackers. The Cu Chi tunnels is one small, but important bit in Vietnam’s fight for freedom. It was a fight in which the Viet Cong soldiers fought hard against the American soldiers and the communist authorities of Vietnam. They suffered a lot through chemical bombs, bad food, inhospitable conditions, bad air supply and much more to build what is the largest man-made tunnel system on the planet.

US Army tank in ruins at CuChi Tunnels, Vietnam
This 259 kilometer long tunnel system is the Cu Chi tunnels that was dug up by the Viet Cong soldiers using small tools and it was through this tunnel system that they inflicted a huge attack on the American soldiers along the Saigon river. This form of tunnel attack and guerrilla warfare was the Viet Cong’s specialty and not the forte of the American soldiers. They used booby traps and night attacks to inflict heavy damage on the Americans.

Shells made by Viet Cong displayed at Cu Chi Tunnels
Today, this area, which was once a black battlefield is a well preserved and forested area that tourists can visit to understand the history and also the tunnel systems. The Vietnam army has a video to help the tourist get a quick idea of the history. Tourist guides can be hired to understand the history in detail. War remains and artifacts have been kept for the tourist to see. One can visit this place either as a day tour through a tour operator or through self-drive.

Cu Chi Tunnels built by the Viet Cong people of South Vietnam
The Cu Chi tunnels are 35 kms from Ho Chi Minh city. Entry to this place is 90,000 VND. The route is fairly shaded and hence it will not be too hot, but carry enough water to handle the humidity. Apart from the tunnels and the history, a lot of tourists come here to fire weapons under the supervision of the Vietnamese army. The tourist can fire an assortment of weapons that include AK-47, M-60, pistols and more. Bullets cost between 1-1.75 USD depending on the weapon and a minimum of 10 bullets have to be purchased. The shooting happens in a restricted environment with ear plugs under the supervision of a member from the Vietnamese army.

Trap Door at Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam
To really understand the place, see if you can do a bit of reading on the place and the war prior to your visit. That would really help in connecting the dots. Else, it would look like a boring place except for the shooting range.

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