Cu Chi Tunnels

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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One-man hiding place.
The Cu Chi tunnels were nothing like I expected.  Nothing.  It's a bit like a Grade C (and that's being generous) theme park with an anti-American theme, gun range and propaganda movie included.  When people post pictures of the tunnels, they post two pictures: one of them popping out of a hole in the ground, and one of them crouched in a tunnel underground.  Which means I thought I was going to spend the day popping out of holes and crawling underground.

It turns out the reason why people only post those pictures is because those are the only two things that are photo worthy.  The rest of the time you're led around a well-trod loop through the trees, stopping to "admire" mannequins in Viet Cong gear or shoot horribly loud guns (How soldiers don't go deaf during war I'm not sure -- even with earplugs.
Tiny!
Have you heard an AK-47 in person? They're LOUD. Deafeningly so.), and then it's back to more mannequins.  

There's a video at the beginning, telling about how the horrible Americans bombed women and children and the abundant food supply and disturbed the otherwise happy Vietnamese, ruining their lives, and how the Vietnamese were awarded honors for the most Americans or dogs killed (that's how the Americans tried to find the entrances to the tunnels, by using dogs to sniff the trail) and what an honorable and patriotic thing it was to brutally kill as many people as you could.  I realize the aim of the game is the same everywhere, but I suppose I'm used to the more ambiguous sugar-coated names for military awards, using terms like "honor" or what have you.
Example of a trap set for Americans.
  The fact that the Vietnamese version is called the "American Killing Award" is unnerving.  But the one-sidedness and the propaganda is expected; I can't say I'd thought it'd be any other way.

In fairness, when I look back and think about it, the mannequins were used to show how the Viet Cong carried out their day-to-day lives during the war, how they prepared food and made weapons and adapted to life in claustrophobically small spaces below ground.  At the time though, you're being led around going what exactly is going on here?  And why are there SO MANY mannequins?!?

The tunnels were all the way at the end of the tour, and you're allowed to crawl through one that's been enlarged to accommodate the western girth.  And by "western girth" I mean fit trim people.
Example of a trap set for Americans.
  There were spaces where my shoulders and hips were squeezed, and despite putting on weight in Asia, I'm not a big girl.  And forget height, for almost all of it you're crawling stooped on all fours.  Many people had to sit out this part, either because they were overweight and wouldn't fit or due to claustrophobia.  It's hot and dark and tight and that tunnel seems to go on forever.  You're probably only down there for ten minutes or so, but still.  Ten minutes is a decent amount of time when you're feeling your way through the dark and trying not to think about suffocating in such a small oppressive space.  I moved as fast as I could and concentrated on breathing.

The reviews seem to be the same from others I've since encountered.  Neat to see the tunnels?  You bet.  The bizzaro world theme park and gun range?  A bit out of place.
domnicella says:
Oddly, the Vietnamese love Americans. Love. We get the same special treatment here as with elsewhere in Asia. (I was anticipating it to be otherwise here.) Even by the staff and tour guides at Cu Chi, no exception.

It's merely the movie that is shown and the literature involved. I certainly wouldn't expect them to portray the American viewpoint, but the perspective that is given is grossly exaggerated as us being warmongering murderers who came solely to destroy their lives. There is no mention of the actual history or events leading up to American involvement. I suppose I didn't make that point well.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2010
sylviandavid says:
yikes..... Do the people all hate Americans?..... Or was it just the Cu Chi tunnels... We ran into that in Sicily... a little uncomfortable...
Posted on: Feb 02, 2010
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One-man hiding place.
One-man hiding place.
Tiny!
Tiny!
Example of a trap set for American…
Example of a trap set for America…
Example of a trap set for American…
Example of a trap set for America…
An entrance to tunnels.
An entrance to tunnels.
American tank
American tank
Example of a trap set for American…
Example of a trap set for America…
Making rice paper.
Making rice paper.
It was pitch black in there.
It was pitch black in there.
Tree heavy with durian fruit.
Tree heavy with durian fruit.
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