Day 15 February 20 Ho Chi Minh City. Excursion To Cu Chi Tunnels
This morning, leave the city and drive through vast expanses of rice paddies to visit the CU CHI TUNNELS, an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles in length that was used by the Viet Cong as a hideout and secret village during the war. Here you will learn about how the tunnels were constructed and have a chance to walk through a section to experience what life would have been like underground.
I chose not to go to the tunnels. John went and really found it disturbing and illuminating.
The Cu Chi Tunnels remain the best-preserved example of a much wider tunnel network that covers significant stretches of Vietnam.
As the Viet Cong’s base of operations during the American War, the region was of vital strategic importance. It served as the communication and coordination hub for the Viet Cong, allowing them link up with their North Vietnamese allies.
The huge network of tunnels included living quarters, weapons caches, ammunitions and bomb-making factories, makeshift hospitals, command centers and kitchens. They were up to four levels deep, and protected by countless booby traps.
The Cu Chi Tunnels were built in the 1940s for covert communication between villages in response to French colonial rule. The hard, red soil of the region proved itself ideal for constructing the tunnels.
20 years later they were reconstructed and repurposed by the Viet Cong guerillas, first as shelter against American bombers, then as their headquarters complete with a vast, multipurpose infrastructure.
During the 1960s, the tunnels became essential in helping in Viet Cong gain control of a large range of rural land just 40km from American-controlled Saigon.
Its location was of vital strategic importance. East of the tunnels was the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a supply route that linked Cu Chi with North Vietnam. The Cambodian border lies to the west, while the Mekong Delta protected Cu Chi from the south.
The guide below is demonstrating the hidden holes covered in bark for unsuspecting enemies.
In 1966, America began “Operation Crimp”, with mass B52 bombings of the region, before some 8,000 American and Australian troops moved in. The American strategy was to pump gas into the tunnel openings or seal them with hand grenades.
You can barely see Phiem down there.
Return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure.
Most things are still closed due to New Year so we decided to walk to the Botanical Gardens/zoo. It was packed and it was HOT at least 40 C.
Across the street at the Ocean Palace is more new year festivities.
The children were delighted with the dragon's antics.
We head back to the hotel for a beer and some lunch.
This evening, join your traveling companions for a special farewell dinner hosted by your Cruise Director.
Once again, our tour director, Phiem, outdid himself. We met at 6:45, all dressed up, to board a bus for a fifteen minute drive to a lovely restaurant located in an old colonial French building.
We were served a lovely dinner and photos will come!
Image from their website as our photos are on John's cell and I don't have access at the moment.