Fast forward (almost) four years and I was back in Vietnam!
I had heard from some friends that I should go and see the Cu Chi Tunnels. “What’s that?” My naive history major mind asked me.
This was a perfect opportunity for some cultural history. Of course, as an American, I always feel a little bit awkward when visiting Vietnam, but with my experience, I have met many people who are very welcoming to Americans.
Taylor and I booked a half day tour for a Saturday. We got picked up by Typhoon Honey. Literally, this guy will crack you up. I have never heard someone laugh at their own jokes more. He was really friendly and gave us a great tour.
After just over an hour drive by van, we arrived on site and immediately watched a documentary. It was very anti-American, but duh, we kind of destroyed their country and they still suffer from the chemicals and aftermath today. It gave us an overview of the history of the Cu Chi Village.
The Cu Chi tunnels are basically an underground city just north of Saigon. These underground tunnels were the home of 18,000 people during the American war in Vietnam. Of those 18,000 people who were residents of these claustrophobic and barely breathable tunnels, 16,000 were guerrilla soldiers (the other 2,000 were children or elderly unable to fight).
They lived underground and came out when the battles called or when they needed to find the sunlight. The Americans knew that they were there, but there were so many booby traps and structures that made it very inaccessible. The Vietnamese were genius. It’s a shame that of those 18,000, 12,000 were killed. This area is a memorial for those who lost their lives and for the decedents that live above ground in the town nearby today.
We toured the site and were able to go into some of the tunnels. It was crazy to see the small spaces and imagine how people had lived there for 20 years or more (not just during the war, but longer). They mainly lived off of tapioca roots and green tea. They created air vents that were disguised as rocks from above ground. I would absolutely have hated to have gone through anything like this.
Although the Cu Chi tunnel tour was really amazing, humbling, and informative – I absolutely hated the fact that the tour allowed for us tourists to shoot the exact guns that were used during the war. It is 100% disrespectful and disgusting to allow that kind of “tourism” on a war memorial site. It cost an extra fee and felt like a horrible tourist trap. Taylor and I did not participate in this and eagerly waited for some of our group members to finish shooting their guns.
Other than that, it’s a must-see, just dodge the bullets…..