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Cu Chi Tunnels worth the wait

posted Sep 14, 2011, 1:00 AM by Dong Travel   [ updated Sep 14, 2011, 1:07 AM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh ]
My first road trip in Vietnam was a poignant moment as my friend and I made our way from Go Vap District in the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

After first hearing about the tunnels two decades ago, I dreamed that one day I would see them in person and not even the searing 30-odd degree heat was going to stop me now.

Okay we didn’t really know where we were going, but we knew it was pretty much a straight road once we got to National Road 22. And my ‘chut chut’ Vietnamese got us the rest of the way.

Vietnamese take riding on a motorbike for granted but for us westerners it is a real buzz and flying down the road was an amazing feeling. Once we arrived in Cu Chi we knew we were close and after a few wrong turns, one particular detour taking us to Cu Chi Minority Village which looked like some sort of summer camp for families, we made it.

Around two hours was a bit long but we knew the way back would be much shorter. So after some fish and rice in the little eating area it was onto the tunnels, well that was what we thought. We must have walked all around the whole complex as we arrived back where we started at the dining hall area a couple of hours later, still no closer to our goal of seeing one of Vietnam’s most famous and historical attractions.

I didn’t know much about Cu Chi suburban district apart from the world-famous network of tunnels which helped Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers against all odds fought off the imperial forces of the U.S. Now I couldn’t even find them when they were within touching distance.

So take two, and much to our amusement we realized that we had missed the entrance by about ten feet first time around. Oh well it was a beautiful summer’s day and we had a nice walk saying ‘chao em’ to the many well wishers wanting to be polite and say hello to the foreigners in their midst.

So we were told to sit and watch a 20-minute video about the history of Cu Chi and how it was a city retreat for Saigonese before war took over.

Seeing young teenage girls carrying guns was a shocking image but when people are defending their home town or nation, will power and bravery takes over.

Some of the tunnels it has to be said were small and there was no way I at 83 kilos was fitting down them but most were manageable.

The first time I walked down the underground tunnel my heart skipped a beat and I was a bit freaked out but was fine by the time the second one came around.

When defending your home you would do anything to succeed and by using the tunnels, the revolutionary soldiers I suppose chose the battlefield and tactically it was a masterstroke.

Of course the Saigonese have probably been down the tunnels many times and see this area as just a nice place to sit and have a picnic with friends but it meant the world to me.

Fulfilling a dream of a curious teenager, I took another step on a journey of discovery in this nation that has become my home.

Source: SGT