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May 24, 2008

Claustrophobic in the wartime Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels / Vietnam

Someone who has been studying Vietnam and the Vietnam War since he was a kid shared this to me at Yahoo…

“What many don’t realize about Cu Chi is it’s a mass grave for the Viet Cong and the Viets who supported the NLF. If you look around Cu Chi, you will see bomb craters everywhere. The cold hard fact that the communists don’t want the tourists to know is many thousands of Vietnam were killed in the Cu Chi tunnels from all of the bombings.

I bet you didn’t realize when you trounced around inside the tunnels that just a few feet away from you was probably someone who was crushed to death by a bomb impact. A thought like that would take all the fun away of a place like that, which is why the communists don’t want the tourists to know the truth.”

I had been worrying about the uneasiness of crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels way before I went Vietnam. My buddy had been recounting her “sauna” experience in the tunnels – hot and stuffy, darkness, lost along the way, and lot of sweat! She repeated many times, “Do not wear jeans!”

I had read about going into the tunnels with a big group of tourists, and everyone got stuck there in an uncomfortable position due to phobia and long photo-taking session in the small, dark and stuffy enclosure… On the thought of that, I really had a second thought of crawling the Cu Chi tunnels.

Our Cu Chi group was quite big with twenty over tourists, most were big-sized Caucasians. I was the third one to enter the tunnel. When I entered, I couldn’t see anyone in front of me. My tour mate was behind me, and two other tourists followed. I was pretty lost at first, as I didn’t know which direction to proceed. Then, we realised that we just need to follow the way where there are dim yellow lightings.

Standing at 1.65m, I had to bend myself low to walk through the tunnel. After a while, I was basically crawling on four limbs, and accidentally bruised my knee. With no one in front of me to lead the way out, I felt pretty lost in the maze, and hate the feeling of being enclosed in such a small space. My tour mate brought a torch along and shone the tunnel.

There are tunnels below tunnels. We simply went down the steps to go to the lower level. The final league of our tunnel experience was to go down a tunnel that has no steps at all. Our first impression was where the hole would lead us to. Could we climb out of the hole again? With three people behind me, I knew that I couldn’t obstruct their way for too long, everyone was crouching in an uncomfortable position! I went down the hole to the next tunnel, in fact, it was pretty easy to get out of this tunnel through the other hole too. However, be careful of smashing your camera as you went through the small tunnels.

We saw a few exits along the way when we were going through the tunnels; but we just continued to proceed to our destination where our Cu Chi guide was waiting for us. The whole experience in the tunnels lasted for about seven minutes only.

After coming out of the dark tunnel, a guy asked if we saw his friend. Gosh! They had a friend missing for quite a while! They must have really had a hard time going through the tunnel as they are alot bigger and taller than us!

Our Cu Chi guide shared with us that once when he was in charge of a tour group, a guy was missing while everyone had come out of the tunnel. The guide waited for him at the tunnel exit for twelve hours! Then the guy finally came out. He apologised to the guide and explained that he had taken a lot of photos in the tunnels. He wanted to bring back the photos to his country for research purposes to help his country. When our guide asked where he was from, the guy did not want to disclose his nationality. Guess what, finally, he told our guide that he worked for Bin Laden. Ya ya, you believe? It was a joke! Ha ha!

The tunnel system embodies the undaunted will, intelligence, and pride of Cu Chi people, a symbol of Vietnamese revolutionary heroism. Really can’t imagine that they could walk through several kilometres in the tunnels during wartime. Hence, Cu Chi has been awarded the title of “Iron Land and Bronze Citadel”. Peace to the Vietnamese people.

This is a hideout in the ground.

Continue post on Deadly Traps in Cu Chi.

10 Comments Leave your comment

  • backpacking philippines said on May 31, 2008 9:08 pm

    nice blog you have here. love the pictures. i also want to visit vietnam someday

  • ella said on June 3, 2008 12:49 pm

    wow! what an adventure! be you had fun!

  • eunice said on June 4, 2008 6:02 pm

    Thanks for visiting! Ya, it’s creepy crawling in those Cu Chi tunnels. Many people died there.

  • Beverly's Secret said on June 12, 2008 5:33 am

    Your blog is really interesting!!!
    I’ll log on everyday now!!!

  • eunice said on June 12, 2008 6:57 pm

    Hey! Thanks! I update everyday whenever possible. :)

  • The Asian Traveler said on June 22, 2008 2:34 pm

    Hi Eunice,

    I’m glad I was able to share with you my “Cuchi Tunnel Experience” in my own small way, and you were able to visit this place.

    I also enjoyed reading your post. Keep on sharing!

    Best regards. :)

  • wrinklie said on April 22, 2009 11:17 pm

    When we visited the tunnels the guides had set trip wires between the trees while we were in the tunnels. They had a great time as we set off the ‘booby traps’, blank cartridges.
    We were only a small party and had a lot of fun at the tunnels.

  • alana said on March 15, 2010 10:18 pm

    Hi! Where did you book your cu chi tour? Thanks! :)

  • carly said on May 18, 2010 2:44 am

    I’m vietnamese!

  • carly said on May 18, 2010 2:46 am

    my mom left on a plane to the usa when the people from north vietnam came for war.

2 Mentions
  • Vietnam Trip! | travelerfolio.com on June 3, 2008 2:06 pm

    [...] day: Cu Chi Tunnels! (Read post) If you like this, share it These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share [...]

  • HCMC (Saigon) Travel Tips! | travelerfolio.com on June 25, 2008 4:32 pm

    [...] This is a must-see attraction! Cu Chi used to be a bitter battle ground for many years during the Vietnam War. It’s an underground village with an intricate network of over 200km of tunnels at Ben Dinh, 50km from HCMC. You will get a chance to crawl in the tunnels! It is recommended to take a bus tour to Cu Chi Tunnels instead of taking boat. Price for a half-day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels: USD 5 per person, inclusive of air-con bus and tour guide; exclusive of Tunnels admission and video session fees at 80,000 VND, which is around USD 5.80. Departs daily. (Read post on Cu Chi Tunnels!) [...]

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