Saigon - The Cu Chi Tunnels
Trip Start Feb 07, 2007
38Trip End Mar 20, 2007
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Whilst we westerners lay in the sun and fry the Vietnamese girls go to any lengths to keep their skin pale. Most ride their motorbikes or walk the streets in a bizzare combination of hat, sunglasses, full face mask and armpit length, flesh coloured silk gloves - not a fetching look!You can even buy skin whitening cream in the shops.
We visited the Cu Chi Tunnel complex this morning. We drove out on the Trans Asian Highway. This one road links 5 countries - Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and Singapore, but we just went 40k out of the city.
It is impossible to imagine what it must have been like at the height of the war. This small area was the most heavily bombed in the country and of the 16 thousand people living here only 4 thousand survived. Strategically it was very important to the Vietcong because of its proximity to Saigon. There are 165 miles of underground tunnels spreading out like a spider's web on three different levels. The most striking thing of course is the size - I know this is a nation of "little" people but to have spent any time at all in that labyrinth must have been hell - babies were even born down there
When we had toured all the peripherals, the time came to venture down into a short length of tunnel if you wanted to. This stretch has been enlarged slightly to accommodate western tourists but even so you were bent double with your shoulders brushing the sides. It's incredibly hot and the only air comes from tiny concealed air holes on the surface about every 150 yards. There is a small stretch of original tunnel which you can go down, so no prizes for guessing who did? In there you literally had to crawl on hands and knees - or so Derek told me!
Back to the hotel and another free afternoon so we decided to look around the market. Like all the markets we have been to there are hundreds of stalls, but when you start to analyse the contents, every stall has the same items for sale, tee shirt alley, shoe alley, lacquer ware alley etc.....we meandered back via an ice cream parlour which was right on the intersection so made for interesting traffic and people watching.
This evening we ate in a Thai restaurant - excellent meal, starters, three main courses, rice, pad thai noodles and 4 beers = £13.50. After another wander around the Chinese festival it was back to the hotel to pack - AGAIN.