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Củ Chi Warfare.

An afternoon visit to the Củ Chi tunnels was another harsh reality check about the horrendous nature of warfare in general.

Besides the fact that Củ Chi tunnels have really turned into a bit of a sick theme park for tourists – if you ignore all of the ridiculous souvenirs and badly built statues showing soldiers sitting in hammocks and the ignorant and obnoxious comments from other tourists – once you get down into the tunnels it is definitely worth the visit.

the jungle

You take a tour through the jungle where a lot of the Vietnam war was fought, and where a lot of soldiers on both sides lost their lives. You see booby traps of all kinds that were made by the communist soldiers to capture, kill or maim American fighters when on the ground. There is also a shooting range where you can fire all sorts of assault rifles and machine guns. I opted out of that one – I’m not a fan of guns, and I’m quite certain that I don’t want to know what it feels like to shoot an AK47 unless it is necessary for my own survival – and if that is ever the case, then I will learn. Until then, I’m happy to live in a blissful ignorance.

inside the tunnels

When you crawl into the tunnels (which have been expanded to accommodate for the size of Western tourists) you would instantly have a panic attack if you are even a little bit claustrophobic. They are so small… you shuffle along, back bent right over and knees bent, through dark, concrete tunnels (they are reinforced with concrete now for safety, they used to just be dirt) and you go deeper and deeper into the earth. The people who I was with began to panic at one point, and many girls had to get out mid way – there is no way to turn around or to exit until you get to the next up hole for you to climb through. the full journey is 100m, which doesn’t sound like much, but it lasts a life time. At one point I even had to get down on all fours, crouched low to the ground to get through – many people got stuck here, literally. When you start the upward shuffle again and then climb the rocks into the sunlight, the fresh (sticky, hot, humid) air is a relief, you are muddy, sweaty and body cramped…

When in the tunnels I stopped for a moment to navigate a turn, my face pressed against the cold hard wall and my back drenched in sweat. I listened to the tat-tat-tat-tat coming from the shooting range close by, and for a moment I closed my eyes and forgot my own history – and I was there, with the smell of gun powder and the fear of what lies ahead… It must have been a terrifying life, living underground, only emerging to shoot at the enemy. Babies were born in these tunnels, lives were lots here…

I can hardly imagine what it would have been like… but I can feel it.

Barefoot, scraped and dusty.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Củ Chi Warfare.”
  1. Yu Wen says:

    Hi,

    I’m a Singaporean who went to Vietnam recently and I didn’t went to Cu Chi. I’m planning another trip during end of May and I must go to Cu Chi for once. I would like to know how much did you pay for the trip to Cu Chi, the entrance fee?

  2. If I had a greenback for every time I came here.. Superb read.

  3. Amy says:

    You brought me back to my own travels in Vietnam almost a decade ago. We went to the Cu Chi tunnels, and your words really brought me back to that experience. It was a solemn day.

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