The VC (Viet Cong) used tunnels as an immensely powerful tactic against the Americans in the war. The tunnels were used to hide in, sneak up on the enemy, retreat through, transport food and supplies etc.The network is quite amazing, and often ran very close to American controlled areas. Exits with hidden trap doors were made every few hundred meters, booby traps laced the area around them and even inside the tunnels, and they were dug with turns and corners so if an enemy ever did enter they couldn’t shoot in a straight line!
The Cu Chi Tunnels are just a small part of this network, but in very close proximity to the center of Saigon, playing an important
role in the taking of Saigon, immediately renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Now, after widening from their original state, part of the tunnels are open to the public and the area stands as a memorial. This is the main thing to do and see from Saigon, and I met up with Scott and Dave again to hit the tunnels.
A guide took us around and told us many stories about the war, tactics, showed us booby traps and more! We had a go at fitting into a trap hole the VC used to hide in and make surprise attacks, with most of their body being sheltered underground, leaving a very small. low and invisible target for the Americans to aim at while they stood out with all their gear and equipment, now useless to them. When we first stopped here, we couldn’t even tell why he was stopping, the entry is perfectly camoflaged with a few leaves on top.
When you go through the actual tunnels its a little odd. There is a length ( I can’t remember how long..400m?) that, although widened, is very tough for anyone around 6ft to make their way through! At first I was able to hunch over, then literally forced into crawling as it was the only way I could fit! There is very little light (duh) even with the emergency lighting they have added (again for tourists) and extra exits in case people have a claustrophobic freak out and can’t handle it.
You get herded through relatively quickly, and I was kind of expecting to see some of the side rooms they mentioned. Anyways we made it through, but only after I bashed my right shin trying to make it back up one of the levels because my legs simply couldn’t fit up the step! The photo of me in the tunnel is terrible but its the only one I’ve got haha.
I have no idea how those guys did it. Especially while carrying weapons! Then to be able to avoid traps, navigate, sleep, move fast and much further than we did, all in the midst of war… just crazy!!
There is also a SHOOTING RANGE on site! It’s a bit expensive at around $1 a bullet! But as if we were going to pass this up! I fired 10 bullets first on the mighty AK-47! The infamous, never-die Kalashnikov from Russia may well survive mud and water, but it jammed on me numerous times and wasn’t overly accurate in my hands. Although it is hard to tell if you actually hit the target or not, cause even if you hit it you can just see the dust come up behind it! Scott and Dave shot the M16, and then Scott shared a clip with me again on the M16. I felt the American gun to be more accurate, I know I hit it this time, and a LOT freaking louder! It didn’t help that the “ear muffs” they gave us were just standard headphones with the wire cut off!! haha
Now I really can say.. “Back in ‘Nam…”