Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CU CHI TUNNELS: LIFE UNDER GROUND

Can you imagine yourself living in a tunnel for days or even months? 

Ben Dinh Tunnel
In my lifetime, I would never dream or even entertain the thought of doing so.  A day ahead of our schedule, with the assistance of our friendly English-speaking tour guide, who calls himself "Small King", we headed to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels.  This is the symbol of the Vietnamese' revolutionary heroism.  As advocated, the tunnel system shows the resilient will of determination, wisdom and pride of Cu Chi people.  That I would never contest - it is indeed hard to live in tunnels and we even experienced passing through the 20-meter tunnel and I swear I will never do it again!  And this is the shortest distance - what more for tunnels that ranges in kilometers.


for health reasons- tourists should read this
located at the left side of the entrance

As indicated in brochures, the Cu Chi Tunnel vestige site is now preserved in 2 areas of Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh, approximately over 70km from HCMC in the NorthWest.  We were able to visit both sites of the vast tunnel system. 

Before entering the site, there are reminders/rules posted serving as warning for elderly and other tourists with heart problems not to venture in passing through the tunnels.  Personally, I did not mind the said marker upon entering and noticed it only after the tour.






 
First stop is the Ben Duoc Tunnel, a part of the Cu Chi Tunnels, which was the base of the Zone Party committee and the High Command of Sai Gon.  This is truly a unique project of architecture, as an underground system of tunnel deeply located in the ground bed with numerous floors and alleys like a cobweb of over 200 km long with its places of accommodation, meeting and fighting.  I am truly amazed at how the planning was done and moreso, with how the Vietnamese coped with their eveyday lives literally down under.

Our tour guide demonstrated to us how the secret basement cover was used during those days.  Tourists are also allowed to make a try, and so, my friend Ai made a try.  I did not try for fear of being stucked inside due to my weight and size.  Although, I can actually fit inside.

our tour guide- "small king"

the tourist
Since the Cu-Chi Tunnels is situated in a forest, it serves as both an attractive venue for sight-seeing as well as a recollection of one's tradition and an ideal place of outdoor activities.  While wandering, noticeable features include a display of american tanks, rubber slippers used by their locals, a gallery various self-made weapons and booby traps, and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians made of wax showcasing their livelihood and day to day activities.  There is also a shooting range where tourists can try if they want to for a fee, which is approximately 600 pesos per bullet.  So we did not try it.  There is a recreation area and site for souvenir shops, as well.







with the American tanker corpse

Ben Dinh Tunnel is a historic revolutionary vestige recognized by the State as the national-level historic vestige site on December 15, 2004.  This was the base of Cu Chi District Party Committee leadership in the Anti-American resistance, also the place of eating, accommodation, meeting, as well as a unique battle formation, which took its part in the fight against the enemy for saving the country.



documentary film showing

shooting range



And then we tried passing through one of the tunnels known as the Fighting Bunker.  I had no idea it would be so exhausting.  We tried the 20-meter tunnel, which while I inside was like 5 kms.  It was so dark and if only I was prepared I should have crawled as my knees were shaking.  Squat walk for more than 5 minutes is so hard.  From that experience, I therefore concluded, life back then in the Cu Chi tunnels was indeed so hard.  We were perspiring so hard and it was a relief when the lights were already visible, as this only means we now have to relax.




To Cu Chi Tunnels, thanks for the experience.  You made us closer to what Vietnam is all about.




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