Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vietnam...inside a Vietcong tunnel.

Here are more snapshots of our visit to the unforgettable Cu Chi tunnels of Vietnam.
All pictures are from my digital camera.

This is another of the opening to the underground tunnels. Again, it is quite small
but sufficient to fit all the NVA or Vietcong soldiers. I have never seen any big size
VC soldier. Those that you may have remembered seeing were in Hollywood movies
where the film extras playing the parts of VC were mostly Hispanics, Latinos and even caucasians dubbed with lots of paint and make up. These were the few films produced
in the mid 60's onwards...including " The Green Berets" which starred John Wayne.
It was very difficult to find SE Asian people near the film production set.

Not all openings are for human entry and exit. Many served as air-vents for
fresh air to enter into the tunnels. Obviously they too were cleverly hidden from
the enemy. There were also outlet vents ( very tiny) for smoke from the underground
kitchens. These too were located very carefully so that the smoke will dissipate innocuously
into the jungle surroundings.

D2 about to enter the very dark tunnel. She did not have any flashlight with her,
neither did I. So, after we captured these shots, I went ahead first as Unk Dicko
has very good eyesight in the dark ( I'm a nocturnal creature Owl ! )
and she followed close behind.

Inside the tunnel it was pitched dark. Only at the beginning was there a dim light
to help you the first couple of crouches. Yes, just imagine, you stoop or crawl all the way
while traversing along the tunnel. A VC could only stand when he reaches a room with
standing space. That could be a long way off.
I was on all fours, hands and feet and at some points even my knees got into the act.

This was the exit for our tunnel. It looks large right? But this was remade in modern times
for the increasing number of visitors to this highly attractive tourist site.
Many of the visitors come from the West and some are really "huge" in size, even the ladies!

Richard the cameraman had "survived" the ordeal and therefore had reasons to smile.
But I'm not too certain if he managed any shots within, even with flash as the tunnel
is really very narrow and cramped, leaving very little elbow room.

Many of us don't really appreciate how fortunate we all were growing up, running around
open ground, going to work, to school, to the market or anywhere we like...with the health-giving
rays of sunlight lighting up our daily life.
We did not have to spend a single day of our life living in such tunnels as those we visited.
The tunnels, being cut off from the sun, were actually very dark, dank and clammy places
where all sorts of bacteria and virus, and other creepies and crawlies flourished.
It was no surprise that many of its inhabitants came down with all kinds of sickness and diseases.
A high percentage died from these illnesses.
As soon as I was out from the tunnel, I realised I was caked with mud, dust and some slime.
I saw a bamboo pole trickling with fresh water.
It was so refreshing just to be able to wash away the dust and grit.
It did occur to me whether the water is safe for washing our faces. I recalled the entire area
around this region was attacked not only with napalm bombs but with "Agent Orange".
Agent Orange a chemical poison was meant to decimate everything living...plants, trees, living creatures and turn that area into a dead desert. It's deadly effects were supposed to last for decades and more.
Somehow, Mother Nature has seen through all these evilness and has returned the land to
a more healthy glow today.
Otherwise I wouldn't be here washing my face! third finger was plastered up. Those who want to know why check out my earlier post
" Vietnam...Exploring by sampans ".


PChew said...

Did you take pictures inside the tunnel? There are rooms for meeting, rest, casualty, cooking(kitchen) and others. Level one has booby traps at the tunnel intersection.

unk Dicko said...

Unfortunately for us, we were running late under our tight programme. So, we had to forego the much longer tunnels that needed upto an hour or more. Still we saw enough that confirmed how tremendously tough the VCs were. There was simply no way that even a 'superior' enemy could win a war in the jungles and swamps of Vietnam with such resolute and resilient VCs around.

Thomas C B Chua said...

Sounds interesting. I love to visit the site. Saw a mini one at Betong, Thailand. This must be more extensive. Wonder how to get there?

unk Dicko said...

Hi Thomas,
Your question "how to get there?"; are you asking how to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels from the city centre of Saigon?
It's only an hour plus away by bus/car from the city, in a North-west direction.
There are conducted tours available daily. Hotel Reception can help anyone interested.