(Sorry for the delay!)
06.06.2014 30 °C
We got royally screwed by a taxi driver, paying $7 instead of the $1.50 it should have cost, but we were greeted with smiles and open arms by The Town House 50E hostel, Ho Chi Minh City - very nice after a long journey!
We put our stuff away and showered before we got talking to Johnny (friendliest, most kind and helpful employee I've ever encountered).
He helped us to book an open bus ticket so we could get up Vietnam, getting on and off at our chosen destinations/pre-booked accommodation; he helped us to book a tour to the Cu Chi Vietcong Tunnels which gave us the Vietnamese account of the intrusion of American forces.
We befriended a lovely couple who became our day-trip buddies which was fun.
Naturally we went to a factory place before we got to the Cu Chi Tunnels, to buy a drink or a snack or perhaps an 8ft carving.....?!
As tedious as these planned shopping opportunities were, this place and the skills required to create these beautiful pieces was quite interesting.
When we first arrived at the Cu Chi Tunnels, we watched a short documentary about the war.
Obviously we were brought up knowing about the Vietnam war, but it was incredibly interesting to hear the other side of the story.
This video spoke about war heroes of Vietnam based on how many American intruders were killed.
It described how these simple villagers used their farming and land knowledge to lay animal traps for the American troops and after the video concluded, we were shown some of these traps!
They are quite brutal (naturally!), but when untrained 'soldiers' were facing highly adept troops, the designs of these traps were truly revolutionary in warfare.
Bamboo was fully utilised providing hidden underground spikes under moving boards; ventilation and airways in man-made anthills for the tunnels they lived in underground; and as crockery to cook and store sticky rice. By using the forest they'd lived in their whole lives, they knew how to survive, protect themselves and avoid getting killed - they even cannabolised the US bombs and shells to make new weapons.
Ricky bravely went in a hidden hole into the tunnels that I wouldn't have got a leg in and secured the camouflaged roof above him.
We didn't even know it was there until our guide pulled off the top!
We walked around (on the path, for fear of unrecovered landmines!) lerning more information as we did so. There was an opportunity to fire an M16 or AK47, but neither of us was so inclined as the noise was unsettling enough!
We made our way to the tunnel entrance and descended into the dimly lit chamber preceeding the tunnel itself.
It was small, stupid remark I know, but it was.
I thought we'd have to crawl but we ended up doing weird half stoop/half dog-on-it's-bum shuffling.
I had my knees bent a little and my back was brushing the roof of the tunnel.
I managed to go a whole 20 metres before imagining scenarios of my getting trapped and dying before escaping up top through a side tunnel.
Ricky and our day-trip friends "mmm" and Adrian continued and apparently it got quite squeezy in some places.
I'm still proud of my 20 metres with nothing but the torch I luckily had in my bag, (I probably wouldn't have fit a few years ago!)
After the full 200 metre tunnel system available to tourist, Ricky, Mmm and Adrian emerged, hot, sweaty and a little dusty, but generally not too worse for wear!
We walked back to the minibus contemplating the lives these people must have lived underground, knowing that in this day and age, we wouldn't be able to.
We got back to Saigon and said goodbye to our day-trip friends before heading back to the hostel to wait for the bus to Mui Ne.
We left around 8.30pm and arrived in Mui Ne at 1.30am......