DEXtination : Cu Chi Tunnel
Day 3 (AM) : A fragment of light at the end of the Tunnel

I was excited about this day because this will be the part of the trip where I'll be just by myself. Don't get me wrong, it's always nice to have friends along and I definitely enjoy Roch's company but there's something about being alone and exploring the world alone that thrills me. ^_^

I could still taste the Pho I had the previous night but I still chose Vietnamese noodles for breakfast - for comparison (besides, I already tried their baguette). Of course, Pho 24's noodles was better but Orient's was also tasty. Nomnomnom.

vietnamese noodles + coffee + banana

After breakfast, I checked out of the hotel and again left my things in their storage. I went to the tour coordinator's office and waited for the bus going to the Cu Chi Tunnel. As I was waiting, I met Lauren (from U.K.) who's also going to see the tunnel.

We talked about the places we visited the previous days and our experience so far. Surprisingly, she's nice and friendly and pretty too. I asked if I can take a picture of her but she refused. (Actually, she granted me one pic but it's in my iPod's contact list and I still don't know how to retrieve it as a separate file.)

our bus

The bus arrived at around 8:20 am (kinda late) and we (Lauren and I) joined a group of tourist from other travel agencies/coordinators. We met Sir Lim, our tour guide. He's a seasoned guide and has a first hand experience of the war. He talked a little bit about Vietnam then and now. Very informative indeed. :)

meet Sir Lim, our Cu Chi Tunnel tour guide
What caught my attention was when he mentioned about statistics regarding Saigon and motorbikes. Did I already mentioned that Saigon is a motorbike country? If in Manila, jeepneys are the king of the road, in Saigon it's motorbikes.

According to Sir Lim, of the 9M current population of Saigon, 5M have motorbikes. And in a month, around 100-150 die because of motorbike-related accidents; around 750 accidents are reproted.

motorbike country
On the way to the Cu Chi tunnel, we dropped by a handicraft factory/store where the workers are handicapped. It's always nice to see how and from which material a particular craft is made but what's nicer is meeting the people who make it. :)

bareback lady

vietnamese ladies - made out of egg shells

i thought this is mother and child

from base to finished product!

Alas! We arrived at Cu Chi Tunnel at around 11:00 am. This is situated 70km north-west of Ho Chi Minh City. We paid 80,000 dong for the entrance and then proceed to the Cu Chi tunnel area.

loi vao = entrance

main tunnel entrance

There was a video presentation as a brief background of the Vietnam war and the Cu Chi tunnel history. You'll sympathize with what happened to them but at the same time be amazed by their courage and intelligence. They used their environment and the things they have to come up with a plan to defend themselves and fight by creating traps and weapons in order to survive.

What's more amazing was the architecture of the tunnel that they built. It's a system of underground tunnels spanning over 200 kms. The tunnels run several layers deep in the ground and form an intricate winding maze designed for accomomdations, meetings and battle preparations during the Vietnam war. Very smart. :)

Cu Chi tunnel system
After the video presentation, we started touring the area. Our first stop was a tunnel entrance camouflaged with the leaves on the ground. It was a very small that I didn't notice that there's an entrance there. The Vietcongs made it small enough for their body built so Americans can't fit. Now that's really smart. :)

tunnel hidden entrance
showing the right way to enter
don't forget to put the door? back

In as much as I wanted to try, I didn't because obviously I won;t fit. Beside, one of our companion got stocked and he's smaller than me.

let's try it

he had a hard time exiting

After that, we toured the area and saw the different traps and weapons they made and got from the Americans. Some are authentic and some are replicas.

booby trap
damaged tank

sticking trap

clipping armpit trap

rolling trap

fish trap

Along the path, we passed by a set of vietcongs wax mannequins showing their uniforms, armors and other stuffs.

We also passed by a shooting range where you can practice shooting with their arms. But nobody in our group tried it so we just passed by.

We were also shown the different nipa houses where they conduct their meetings and other functions and a station how to make rice wrappers.

how to make rice wrappers?

more rice wrappers

gratuitous picture of me in the Cu Chi tunnel area

Rubbers trees are all over the area so it's not surprising that they make materials made of rubber.

slippers made out of used tires
the guy who make these rubber slippers told that there's a belief that if you put the smallest rubber slipper on top of your roof, you'll be blessed many kids (lol. i didn't buy it)
This tour won't be complete without going through the small tunnels. We had an option not to but like what I've mentioned this wouldn't be complete if we didn't experience it. I was worried I wouldn't fit I still tried it. It was a 50-m long tunnel and we need to duck walk inside. It's very dark inside, definitely not for claustrophobic. It's also very hot inside, after just a few minutes walk, I felt very sweaty. I just couldn't imagine how vietcongs who actually lived there stood the heat.

on the way to the tunnel
After the tunnel, we were given kamoteng kahoy with peanut salt to eat and a hot tea to drink.

kamoteng kahoy + peanut salt
There's a souvenir shop and I bought the famous bottle with a snake on it but unfortunately I didn't have the time to take a picture because Sir Lim asked us to hurry up because we need to make it to Ho Chi Minh for the city tour.

The Cu Chi was definitely a must - see in Vietnam especially if you want to know more about the war and their history. I've learned a lot from this tour, from Sir Lim and from vietcongs. It thought me to maximize and optimize the use of the things I have. :)

The Cu Chi Tunnel system is an amazing historical relic from the war and says a lot about the distinctive character and will-power of the people who created it. It is also a true testament to the ingenuity of the Vietnamese people and to their ability to adapt and survive no matter what the circumstances are. (
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  • DEXpicable Me

    DEXpicable Me
    i always wanted to write. i want to voice out my opinion on issues that interest me. i wanna chit-chat about tv series i'm hooked and music in my playlist. i want to talk about math and politics; culture and literature. i want to share my story and be relevant. and with this labyrinth as a medium, i'm making myself vulnerable by letting you in to my life. it's up to you to depict it. you may see it differently. you may be lost. but in this maze, there is only one way out and i hope you find it.