Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Morning Vietnam 2013: Cu Chi Tunnels and more

     One of our day trips from Ho Chi Minh City was to see the Cu Chi Tunnels which were used in the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong in their resistance against the U.S. troops in South Vietnam.  Many of the fighters were farmers by day and soldiers by night, using guerrilla tactics to hold off the Americans while being grossly under-equipped in comparison.  We gained some insight into the resourcefulness of the people and their determination to fight for their cause.

On the way to the Cu Chi Tunnels we passed by many rubber tree plantations.  They were lined up about as perfect as it can get.

Once at the tunnels there were exhibits on many of the booby trap defenses that were used against U.S. troops.  Many resembled hunting traps, such as this pit of bamboo spikes.  Oftentimes the tips would be coated with poison.

This crater was made by the B-52 bombers.

Since U.S. troops were all over the area, the entrances to the tunnels had to be carefully concealed, like this one in front of the tree.  Our guide Hai will now demonstrate the method of entry...

First, you find the edges of the cover.

Then, remove the cover.

Lower body in feet first.

Grab cover and lower the rest of the body down while holding cover above the head.  Now you see him...

...now you don't!

There were also demonstrations of the resourcefulness of the Viet Cong - such as this fella using old tires to make rubber sandals.

Here's another entrance to the tunnels via a fighting ditch.

I'm standing in another crater made by the B-52 bombers.

Marisa and I gave the tunnels a shot and while she's smiling in this photo, she was anything but a happy customer in the tight, stuffy space.  We only went 50 yards or so, but that was enough for her.

I went with our guide for another 100 yards or so and trust me that it was not the place for anybody with claustrophobia.  I can't imagine spending hours hiding in and basically living in these tunnels.

Needless to say I was a sweaty fool after that trek.

The rooms that were made for cooking had carefully concealed vents.

     Our last stop was to visit a Cao Dai temple for a weekly ceremony.  If you haven't heard of Caodaiism then you're probably not alone, as this religion was established in 1926 and only has a few million followers. 

I can't say what really went on during the service, besides a bunch of these jokers in white robes (men and women) meditating and bowing in sync to some live music going on in the upper balcony.




This guy seemed special since he sat all the way in front and got to wear the fancy outfit.  Nothing was really said and no one really got up and faced the crowd, read anything, led any singing - they just went through cycles of staring forward followed by bowing down.

The house band

The Cao Dai temple from the outside.

I believe the eye represents God in their system.

Photo-op after lunch - which just may've been the culprit in our food poisoning scandal.

Our tour guide Hai for Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta was a breath of fresh air compared to our previous guides in Hue and Hoi An.  We learned a ton from this guy.

--Justin
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