Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels are north of Saigon, in a wooded area, where the Viet
Cong used to live and fight underground against the American and south
Vietnamese troops. There are 200km’s of tunnels, up to 8 metres
underground, and they contain kitchens, bedrooms, meeting rooms, and
fighting bunkers. Until you see them, you wonder how anybody could hide
such a tunnel system, but then you see the way that the entrances were

The camouflage of the Cu Chi Tunnels

Spot the tunnel – there’s one in the photo above.

Peek a boo

There you are – the hatch was hidden under the leaves. We’d all walked
right past it until the tour guide doubled back and showed us what we’d
missed. What a great photo opportunity! A chance to stand in a real
wartime tunnel, and have my photo taken. I couldn’t resist. I vaguely
remember the guide saying that the Americans hadn’t been able to get down
the tunnels, because they’d been built for the small Vietnamese build, not
the bulky Westerner ones. It was a bit of a squeeze, and I couldn’t get my
chest in at all, but at least I got the photo.

I’m f*****g stuck

Can you lip read? If so, you might be able to see what I’m saying in photo
number 3. I’ve just discovered that getting my hips through on the way
down was a lot easier than lifting them back up. Although I had the
strength to lift myself upwards, I didn’t have enough to squeeze my hips
back up, when I was also bending my legs to find the tunnel edges to get
an extra bit of lift. Hmm, looks like I’ll have to buy an annual pass, as
I may not be getting out of here in a hurry!

I get by, with a little help from my friends

Phew – the Vietnamese army guide, and a Japanese tourist who looked like
he was straight off the set of Banzai, came to my rescue. It turned out
that after me, nobody else in our group wanted to try it – especially
after the guide talked about the fact that cobras tended to wander into
the holes to lay their eggs. Later we all walked through a specially
widened-for-tourists network of tunnels, covering 30m, bent double so that
I was almost touching my toes. Now I’ve seen them, I can understand how
they must have petrified the troops that were sent in to clear them (you
had to be careful if you were short and thin in the US Army).

The sleeper to Danang

After all that, I was glad to get back to the madness of city traffic and
the guest house. We had time to shower and change, before we packed up,
paid our bill (2 million Dong!), and got a taxi to the railway station,
for our sleeper train north to Danang. Most backpackers travel through
Vietnam by bus – a ticket from south to north costs $21, with as many
stops as you want – because of the cost. But we prefer travelling by
train, and the girls love sleeper trains. So despite the fact it costs
twice as much, we took the train option. We opted for a 4-berth
soft-sleeper cabin, and didn’t have to share with anybody, and could lock
our door overnight so that we didn’t have to worry about our rucksacks
getting pinched. By 10, we were all in bed, and because of the freezing
air-conditioning, tucked under duvets and sheets.