Reliving the war with Mr. Bean

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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Try it and get your snapshot snaking your way in and out this tunnel.

After enjoying the City tour the previous day I decided to try out another one, the Cu Chi Tunnels whole day tour (80000VND inclusive of the tunnel entry fee), there were other combinations with the Cu Chi tunnel tour but I was advised by the Koreans the previous day that this would be more worthwhile.

hence i started off the day with another of the 'bre o e or bre n ja' breakfasts, this time i went for bre n ja' i think the former was still better. their breakfasts in Vietnam btw as i've heard regardless of the location is pretty much the same, hard french baguette and jam and egg, attributed to the French colonization. so much for variety.

here i was a few minutes early to enjoy my meal and Mr. burly Vietnamese guy from the travel agency bounces in the hostel again and nags at me to hurry up.

One of the entries to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel is dug into clay soil.
talk about pressure! feeling comfortable with me i guess, he took the liberty of sipping some of my filtered coffee which i playfully retrieved from him due to my newfound passion for Vietnamese coffee.

we then hurriedly walked to the agency to take a bus with more than a dozen tourists mostly white, and a sole malaysian backpacker, Sue, who strikes a conversation with me. my bud for the day:-) the bus just took us a few blocks away as we had to transfer to another one that just purely did Cu Chi tunnel tours. waiting took about 20 min during which i decided to get a new pair of sunnies since the new ones I bought from Manila broke the previous day.

Our wonderful tour guide's name was 'Mr. Bean' as what he wanted us to call him.

Modern day americans on their old tanks from the war, how ironic!
he looked plucked from one of those Chinese movies and claimed that he served in the American navy during the war. all throughout the tour he never ran out of personal stories, and historical trivia filled with his crazy humor and his classic verifiying word after each story ' understand?', you'd be so dense to not enjoy his really corny jokes. it was funny that he'd always try to get the eye of the closest person he was to during the tour, and a third of the time it was me and ended up always nodding so he'd stop asking 'understand?!':-) i strongly suggest and hope that if you ever take this tour, you would get him as your tour guide, there is never a dull moment.

finally we were on the bus to the tunnels, this took a tiring 3 hrs i guess, i totally forgot.

Various traps for the American soldiers
i was more preoccupied with the guy who was leaning on me with his full weight the entire time as he and his buds who were also with us apparently had too much to drink till dawn, tsk, tsk.

we stopped by another art factory with more of the Vietnam war handicap workers, this time the gallery was much bigger.

we reached and toured the Cu Chi tunnels at high noon but the trees around the area provided the shade. we got bits and pieces of historical facts on each stop of the tour. the first of which was a poor black and white video of how the tunnel was built in a non airconditioned room where all the tourists of about 50 in count where packed together. it could have been better but most were just too sweaty to enjoy it.

i did appreciate the painful history of how the tunnels became, the Vietkong had to hide from the Americans I think for months inside those cramped tunnels, part of it would ironically submerge at other times of the day and the Vietkong's had to use pipes made of plant stalks to breath through the surface.

Dummy Vietkongs
I could not even imagine how they survived it. it really moved me.

some of the tourists dared to go inside the first tunnel that we saw which was about 6 ft in depth and about 2 feet in width, just enough for one person. i chickened out. Sue went in but had difficulty getting out since you had to push yourself out with your arms, and as she said with short arms, it was a little challenging. but a nice picture was definitely worth it for some.

we came across several huts and life sized Vietkong mannequins doing several war activities such as polishing and heating their weapons. for Vietnamese, their women are the stronger sex. they were part of the war to cook and could at the same time fight  as well as the men. this Mr. Bean was so proud of.

This is where we started to get in
you can also see this in their museums.

we also got to try going in the tunnels which had stops every few meters that allowed you to go up and get air if you were wanting to quit. i only went as far as the first stop together with half of the group. let me explain. you would have to go in the tunnel which is built inside clay soil hunched, with just a few gulps of air. and i tell you, this is not a very comfortable position, all the more with my travel bag hanging around my neck:-( but it was well worth the experience.

we also saw some of the trap door samples that they used which when further explained would give you a quite graphic imagination of how it really was during the war. now this was really interesting. you had those that flew with nails, those that caved in between like a Venus flytrap and you even had a swivelling trap door that had huge nails underneath which was used to catch the dogs used by the Americans to sniff for Vietkong prisoners.

More tunnels
outwitting the Americans in this manner as the dogs deliciously became their food.

our other fellow tourists, i dare not mention the nationality were a bit rowdy all throughout, either sarcastically mimicking Mr. Bean behind his back or would just disgustingly spit from time to time.

the last stop was a de-briefing room where we were shown again a diorama of the tunnels and the history summarized by Mr. Bean.

going back home i decided to take the boat ride through one of the deltas i couldn't remember the name of,  that Sue persuaded me to take. it offered a refreshing view of miles and miles of muddy but fresh smelling water with tons of floating lilies and mangroves on the side. the barges, boats and Vietnamese houses lined by the delta provided an intermission from time to time.

For catching the dogs, yum-yum!

we got back to Saigon at 4pm, the tour started before 8am and was supposed to end 2 hrs earlier.

the problem was that the only store you could get refreshments from, the entire day was by the firing range. where you had an array of ice cream, soda's, nuts, and what have you. you can also enjoy the interesting display of snakes preserved in bottles, what the?! they definitely would not suffice so everybody was admittedly famished by the time the tours ended. so if you decide to go here be sure to bring food. you wouldn't want to be as grumpy and tired as us had we known this.

My second eventful day in Saigon ends with me dating myself. Tracy's group didn't give me a ring so I decided to fix up and  had a fancy dinner across the street.

Mr. Bean demonstrating the swinging trap
What I've found generally amusing were the tons of merchants selling a variety of wares everywhere. They'd openly come up to you with almost anything you can think of! I admired the vendors who had high pile of bestselling novels held by one hand, I could not even imagine how they've managed it. Lucky for me I am brown skinned, and since based on what I've heard Vietnamese people love fair skin and treat it as a form of royalty compared to my colour, I was not a favorite of vendors. This I welcomed gladly and enjoyed having my meal in peace:-)


Isabetlog says:
I like Mr. Bean's neo-feminism :) is he Vietnamese? I'm not sure I understood what you meant :D
Posted on: Jun 23, 2008
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Try it and get your snapshot snaki…
Try it and get your snapshot snak…
One of the entries to the Cu Chi t…
One of the entries to the Cu Chi …
Modern day americans on their old …
Modern day americans on their old…
Various traps for the American sol…
Various traps for the American so…
Dummy Vietkongs
Dummy Vietkongs
This is where we started to get in
This is where we started to get in
More tunnels
More tunnels
For catching the dogs, yum-yum!
For catching the dogs, yum-yum!
Mr. Bean demonstrating the swingin…
Mr. Bean demonstrating the swingi…
Asians stick together. Bonding wit…
Asians stick together. Bonding wi…
Forgot what this bridge was, Mr. B…
Forgot what this bridge was, Mr. …
Houses by the riverside
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