Reliving the war with Mr. Bean
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
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.
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.
finally we were on the bus to the tunnels, this took a tiring 3 hrs i guess, i totally forgot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.