Cu Chi is a small farming community about ttwo hours out of Saigon. In the Vietnamese war back in the 70′s, America demanded power, and by supporting the Fench in their campaign, rained havoc of Vietnam. The tunnels are a complex system of highways built over three levels underground. During this period the people of Cu Chi used them to live, fight, hide and travel in. The system itself covers over 300kms of tunnels. I highly recommend reading up on this as it is a fascinating story (make sure you get an overall perspective as the one sided versions are very propaganda based (of course).
We move through the rainforest for our tour after watching a Vietnamese version of the war. In an ordinary looking section of trees the guide stops us and moves aside a pile of leaves to reveal a wooden boarded entrance cover to one of the tunnels; the hole is approx. 30cm X 20cm square. Not surprising when the average Vietnamese could potentially snap in half in a high wind.
We progress to the tunnels that have been touristified and made larger. Although these stand no high than your waste and seemingly easy to crawl through, the air is close and heavy and you soon begin to lose some puff. Lucky there are exit points along the way and opt out of the tunnel at the next interval. One of my favourite read stories consists of the Vietnamese dismantling an old tank and reassembling it underground. Here they learnt a lot about their enemy and when the tunnels were infiltrated at certain points during the war by our ever-loved Aussie tunnel rats and the not so small Gringo’s, they discovered their arms and equipment in these chambers, they too discovered that their enemy was not so farmer-like.
We stop part way through at the firing range. Here you can fire weapon stolen or made by the Viet Com during the war. I opt to fire an M60 machine gun. They have taken all the safety precautions of mounting said weapons on the firing range and roviding ear muffs – although these are a waste of time and are not effective at all. The M60 is a semi-automatic monster. You really need to be careful on how hard you pull the trigger as you can fire dozens of rounds in a second. I do like guns.
We end our tour by walking out the same way we came in – through a gianormous car-side thoroughfare/tunnel. To me after reading a fantastic book from all sides, I was disappointed that the guide (who is our tour leader) pushed us through too fast as this is an important part of history here and I am sure those who are not familiar with the era will not understand.