On the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels are the start of a 250km underground passageway, that saved the rebels of northern Vietnam from the dictatorship of the south and of course, the Americans. An intricate system, previously unknown to the Western world, is a powerful weapon, military base, and home all in one. The Tunnels really are a wonder.
Knowing they had few weapons and none of the riches of America, the rural people of Central and Northern Vietnam used the tunnels, with 18th century ideas, to outsmart the foreigners, and to slaughter them in their confusion. We were shown some of the skills and tricks of the tunnels, and crawled through a wide-ish one. The experience left me dumbfounded and amazed.
The vast underground burrows of the Viet Cong were the territory of the locals, and so the
Americans were out of their depth. They couldn’t see the tunnels, they couldn’t see the traps and they were frequently ambushed. Americans were known to say “Viet Cong is everywhere but still nowhere”. Unfortunately, with an invisible target, not knowing where or who to attack, the Americans did what they do best and bombed it all. Agent orange is the strongest chemical known to man, and was used all over the country. On top of that, 6.7 million tonnes of bombs were dropped. Two of those were nuclear and even bigger than those used on Japan. The Americans killed millions but the rebels still won. It was all over in 1975.
Our guide answered questions I hadn’t thought to ask, filling my head with scenes I had never imagined. Annoyingly, the tour was cut short because someone had booked a flight for half an hour after the tour finished, so we had to rush back for them (if you can’t make it, don’t come). The group was too big as well, but that can’t be helped with such a big attraction. It was one of the more thought provoking things we’ve done, and a vital part of Vietnamese history. Beware the shooting range -unless that’s you’re thing-, where you have the option to pay huge amounts to shoot at targets. What fun. Ultimately, the Cu Chi Tunnels are incredible, a feat of humanity that everyone can appreciate.