Cu Chi Tunnels

Author: Debra Corbeil
Filed under tourism -> destinations | Sun, 01 Nov 2009 | viewed (3248x)

 





The Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City are an incredible destination for war and history buffs. During the Vietnam War it was the major battleground between the U.S and Viet Cong.

In the heart of the jungle, 200km of tunnels were well hidden from American soldiers. Originally built to protect the Vietnamese from French air strikes in the lat 1940's to 1950's, they were re-used during the 60's as a staging ground for attacks on American troops.

Surprisingly, the U.S. knew that the tunnels were there, they simply could not find them or destroy them. They put everything they had into taking out the tunnels from dispersing agent orange and napalm to relentlessly dropping bombs, but the caves remained in tact. The land didn't fare as well and the jungle was completely destroyed along with everything in it. Today it is thriving once again however, showing that with time, the earth can repair even the harshest results of destruction.

If you are lucky, you may receive a first hand account from a former Vietnamese soldier. Guides will tell you stories of their time in the war and can give you information on intimate details of the war that took place in this jungle. If you listen carefully, you can learn a great deal about history.

The Viet Cong used the jungle to their advantage. They could run through with ease, knowing their way around their own land and had several cave entrances at the ready to disappear into. They were hidden well with termite hills placed atop, or with leaves scattered above. Guide dogs could not follow their scent because they would sprinkle cayenne pepper around the entrance confusing the dogs and making them turn in the opposite direction. They could safely disappear into the 200 km system and if followed, the American soldiers couldn't fit inside anyway. The entrances were tiny and made for a slight frame, for a large U.S. soldier, fitting in would be almost impossible without blasting it.

They knew their tunnels well, unlike the American soldier. They would enter the tunnel avoiding the booby traps placed to kill or maim the enemy. Several different types of crude traps were laid in wait for the poor soldier that had to follow them in or the soldier that was sent to investigate upon a discovery.

There were other tactics besides the tunnels that offered the Vietnamese an advantage against the United States. Surprisingly, foot rot was a major problem with U.S. soldiers. The heat and humidity of the rain forest caused sores, rotting flesh and infection. When your major form of battle is to walk through the jungle this can be a serious problem. Instead of wearing boots, the Vietcong wore rubber sandals made from tires. They are well constructed and durable and you can see them for yourself. If you want to try them out, buy a pair for a nominal fee.

It is impossible to imagine how people managed to live in these tunnels for several years. The passageways were very tight at less than a meter high and they were dark and filled with disease. They had to deal with insects and venomous snakes and the fear of being found out. However, the Vietnamese managed to carve out a way of life however building kitchens, living areas and first aid stations.

Your tour will take you to all of the different types of living quarters and rooms. It is a comfortable tour and the tunnel walls have even been blasted out to make it larger and more comfortable for tourists. However, there are still some original entrances available to be explored and you will have the opportunity to go into an original tunnel yourself and crawl for 150 meters experiencing what it was like during the war.

Your guide will take you to an original entrance which is simply a very small hole in the ground. He will show you how to enter and then you are on your own to squeeze through and make your way to the other end. It can be frightening indeed, but be sure to give it a try. It is a crazy experience to crawl through these tiny tunnels and imagine what it must have been like for its inhabitants.

After you have thoroughly explored the caves, you will also learn other ways that the Vietnamese managed to defeat America. They could track soldiers easily in the jungle by using plants. You will see how they cooked only during the foggy mornings to hide their smoke and you will learn how farmers smuggled food to the Vietcong. It is a very informative day.

Now that you have learned all that there is to know about the Cu Chi Tunnels, you will be given the opportunity to feel what it was like. Believe it or not, you are given the chance to fire and AK 47. Or can choose your automatic weapon of choice and for the cost of $1 a round you can feel the power of these destructive weapons by firing them at the shooting range completing your Vietnam war tour.

Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels will definitely give you a feeling as to what life was like during the Vietnam War. It is unbelievable to think that these tunnels remained in tact through two major wars. One with the French and one with the Americans. If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh, they are certainly worth a visit.

Tagged : tunnel cu chi history