Crawling through Tunnels

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Thursday, December 1, 2005

Up early for our tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. The bus was 40 minutes late and we were the last people onboard. The older Americans didn't look too happy and started talking loudly about how we should have been on time!

Our guide was a happy fellow who took great pride in his job. He enthusiastically told us all about the tunnels in broken English that was quite hard to understand, and I'm normally good at understanding the locals attempts at English.

We were ushered into a room and shown a movie about the Vietnam war and the role of the Cu Chi tunnels. The majority of our group were American war veterans returning to see what Vietnam is like today. I wonder what they thought of the movie and the hero like status they gave to the Vietnamese fighters at Cu Chi. I had to laugh, quietly, as they said, "for killing 12 American soldiers she was given the badge of American killer hero!". Doubt they saw the funny side.

We then headed over to the tunnel area and he proceeded to tell us all about what went on. I couldn't understand a word and just blocked out the commentary and waited until we could enter the tunnels, which was much later.

We saw loads of traps that would have caused grievous injury and blown up tanks but no tunnels. We arrived at a shooting range where Dave decided to use the AK-47 at $1 per bullet! His 10 were over in no time and the noise deafening. He had ear defenders that would have been of little use. They were just Sony headphones with the wire cut off! I was filming without any protection and my ears were ringing for about 10 minutes afterwards.

Finally we got to see the tunnels and walk a short section. I say walk but they obviously weren't meant for taller people as it was agony. For 100 metres the tunnels went deeper underground and I shuffled my way along with my thighs burning and constantly stopping to let the others catchup. By the time we got to the fourth section it was so tight that I could barely squeeze through on my hands and knees. It was also pitch black which didn't help my mild claustrophobia although I fared fine. Others were worse and very glad to be out. How people lived in there I'll never know and I was knackered after the short 100 metre journey.

On the way back we stopped at a factory where crappy art was being made but I couldn't be bothered to see it, or the museum so when they went back to the office I stayed in the minibus back to our hotel.

We had work to do. We were going to Cambodia tomorrow and had no US$. I also barely had any dong left so a trip to the bank was a necessity. It turned out to be a disaster as we couldn't get any money due to the fact we didn't have our passports. They were off getting the Cambodian visa attached and wouldn't be ready until 6pm, when the banks would be closed! Great! Luckily the bank opened at 7:30am tomorrow so we will have to make a mad dash first thing tomorrow before our bus.

That fiasco over we returned to the hotel and I finished off my book before collecting our passports and heading out for dinner. I had virtually no dong left now so we went to the cheapest place we could find which was actually very nice. They had a free pool table which we made our home for a couple of hours before heading back, glad to be leaving tomorrow.

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Sorry the Vietnam entries took so long. I was so far behind when I arrived in Cambodia that I just bought a new diary and started afresh. As a result the Vietnam entries were written 6 weeks later and aren't really that good. Won't happen again I promise.....
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