On September the 22nd I walked to the tour office for my Cu Chi Tunnel tour. I bought a friendship bracelet before I got on the mini bus, at 8:30am. The tour guide was an ex-Vietnam veteran who fought on the American/ south Vietnam side. He could have lived in America but he decided to live in Saigon. The first part of the tour took us to a factory where disabled people work, making pottery and other things. The Cu Chi tunnels are located 60km outside Saigon, and in this area there are over 200km of tunnels. Only 2 tunnels networks are open to visitors. One near the village of Ben Dinh and the other at Ben Doc. I'm almost certain we went to see the Ben Dinh tunnels. Anyway when we got there we had to buy our tickets and enter though a very modern entrance with ramps and stairs.
While inside our tour guide talked allot about the war and the tunnels. The tunnels consisted of 3 layers, each one for a difference purpose. One for living and cooking, one for storing ammunition (guns) and one for moving. Also, one layer always led to the Saigon river in order to get out or to catch fish.
We came to the first hole in the ground which was covered with a wooden lid. The guide opened it and allowed people to try and fit into it. I could not attempt this since I had to many things in my pockets. The tour guide also told us that when the American dropped the Napalm bomb it reacted with the ground/ soil and strengthened the tunnels :-). Also the VC only wore plastic sandals in order to more around quickly. The tour guide was great at bringing it to life. Now it was time for us to go through the Cu Chi tunnels. Actually before that we passed by some VC traps and electronic Vietnamese either cutting a bomb or cooking,, very touristic. But anyway, on to the tunnels, about 6 people did not attempt to go into the tunnels, they were too heavy, most of them were Americans. :-) I was the 10th person to enter. The beginning was quite wide, but as I went further in, it became darker and narrower. The tunnel was between 40m and 60 meters long.
At one stage there was allot of commotion ahead of me. I did notice a few people leaving - you can leave the tunnels every 10 meters. I used my mobile phone as a light and I could see why everyone was leaving. The tunnel became very narrow. I heard a voice behind me saying "keep going Irish". And so I did and I was the first one out. The girl who said that to me in the tunnel took some photo's of me coming out of the tunnel. My heart was pumping and it felt great to complete it.
After the tunnel experience we went to a shooting range and took a break for 1/2 hour. I wanted to shoot an AK 47, but I thought it was too expensive, it was about $2 a bullet and you had to buy 10.
The tour ended there (1pm) and so the mini bus drove us back to Saigon. No real excitement on the bus. Back at Saigon I had some dinner and met the guy from the shop again. He asked me why didn't I me him yesterday. I told him that is was raining to heavy. So we agreed to meet later that evening again. I did meet him and we went to his flat, which was down some ally way. Not very nice. His apartment was very small and it was on the second floor of a building, with a wooden stairs on the outside to get into it. I stayed for a while, for a chat, he seemed very poor. Anyway on leaving a dog nearly bit me, which would have not been good since I would have had to get 6 rabies injections . I went to bed early because I had a long day ahead of me tomorrow.