Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 2 Exploring Around Ho Chi Minh - Cu Chi Tunnels

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
Carrying a sense of adventure, we are determined to explore areas around Ho Chi Minh City the way locals do. Our CS host Mai Le, a Vietnamese girl from Dalat and sharing the five-storey apartment with CS Adam, Steve and Annie, taught us how to commute. We took Bus No. 13 at the Ben Than Market bus station, paid 5,000 vnd (Php 12), then after less than an hour changed Bus No. 79, paid 3,000 vnd (Php 7.20) and after another 30 minutes or less, we were at the Cu Chi Underground Tunnel (Dia Dao Ben Duoc) , approximately 70 kms Northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cu Chi Underground relic is preserve in two (2) areas of Ben Duoc (which we visited) and Ben Dinh. The tunnel is a labyrinth of narrow, about 200 km long underground dug out used during the Vietnam - USA war. It was built by the guerillas during the war to hide during bombings and raids and stage surprise attacks.Two sections of the tunnel are open to the public and ex - Vietnamese fighters lead tours through the underground hospitals, kitchens and sleeping quarters.

A walk-through our day at the Cu Chi Underground Tunnel which is both an attractive point for sight-seeing, a meeting place to recollect Vietnamese tradition, and an ideal place for outdoor activities:

1. We bought tickets for 75,000 vnd (Php 180)each at the counter manned by a friendly receptionist in traditional costume(áo dài). For an additional 3,000 vnd (Php 7.20), we got on a tram that took us to the entrance to Dia Dao Ben Duoc (the Underground Tunnel Complex).

2. The Ben Duoc entrance indicates the scenery of Cu Chi village before the war, with its luxuriant fruit-trees, laden with fruits in four seasons.

3. Ben Duoc underground tunnel complex is Saigon - Gia Dinh Regional Party headquarters. The underground tunnel is a unique system of tunnel deeply located in a ground bed with numerous floors, several deviated alley like a cobweb over 200 km long with its places for boarding, accommodation, meeting and fighting.

4. Entrance to the tunnel complex. Originally narrower than what it is now to accommodate tourists.We crawled around the safer parts of the tunnel system.

5. A trap door on the jungle floor leads down into the Cu Chi tunnels. It is undetectable being closed and camouflaged.

6. One kind of traps - a booby trap with bamboo spikes

7. air holes and opening door for shooting

8.A command center in the tunnels. There we ate cassava (that literally saved me from hunger) and so I felt like how Viet Cong fighters had eaten after a long,hard fighting.

9. Ben Duoc Martyr's Memorable Temple - in the main hall of the temple, there is an epitaph on which the names of 50,000 who have fought and sacrificed their lives for the land of Saigon.

10. a nature's place near the lake


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