To is our free day in Saigon (oh oops the politicly corect name is Ho Chi Minh City). We got up and went this morning at eight o’clock to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The Cuchi Tunnels are some tunnels that the Viet Cong hid in durring the Vietnam war. They are located on a bend of the Saigon River and cover over three hundred square kilometers (about one hundred fifty square miles.) It is a little northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (very long name). Anyway now that you know it’s general vicinity I will continue the story. At eight o’clock we went downstairs and met our guide. He was an older gentelman (we learned later that he was two years older that dad). He started out by saying “We must talk about the war. We are not enemies we are friends…” He went into the details of our good relations and Bill Clinton starting those relations. He talked on about it pausing only to show us a sight. It was rather funny, he would be talking about some political thing and then point and say “there is a rubber plantation, we’ll see it on the way back.” and then go right on talking. He was fairly easy to understand (always a good thing) only a few pronuctiation errors but hey, I would have umppteen zillion errors if I tried to speak Vietnamese. His English would probably have been easier to understad if he had not had fake teeth that didn’t fit because all the time that he was talking he was tring to keep his teeth in! Oh! I forgot to tell you that he was ex-Viet Cong (Vietnamese comunist fighters in the south)! When he told us we were thinking “maybe all of the tour companys hire ex-Viet Cong to do tours of the Chuchi Tunnels. But after the tour we hadn’t seen another tour guide that looked than forty years old! We were extremly lucky that we got shuch a guide. When we got there we first were going to see a movie full of comunist propaganda but all the little rooms were full. So we just went on to see the tunnels and see the movie later. The first thing that we saw was some traps that the Viet Cong used against the Americans. They were pretty brutal. Then we went throught the forest seing some of the different entrances. Some were very teny only about twenty inches by ten inches and had a little cover over it. You had to put your legs in and then slide down with your hands over your head and squat in the little hole to get in. There were little tunnels leading betwene the enterances that were maybe two feet wide and two feet tall. We didn’t go in those we just went down the entrance. We kept on walking through the forest and saw many other places that secret enterances to the tunnels. The reason that the tunnels have many enterences is so that when someone comes out and shoots if you go to that enterence then he goes to another enterence and shoots you again an so on. Then we came to a place that was the kitchen/mess hall. It was a rectangular pit with a fire and some tables. When it was really in use it was covered by a roof that was the level of the ground with a mound of dirt. For tourists though they made thatched roofs and made the walls about a food higher. If they let the smoke from the firego out freely then the Americans could find them and, as Phong said, bomb comes boom. So to avoid this fate they made tunnels that went through the ground. Allong the way put underground compartments to trap smoke so by the time that the smoke went out it waws greatly reduced. Sometimes they even had to do it for two hundred meters! After we saw that we saw the generals place. It was basicly the same as the kitchen just with a desk and a meeting table. After that we walked to one of the enterences. They made a roof and made the enterences ten times as big for tourists. They also made steps to get down to the tunnels. They had made the tunels larger two times (tells you how skiny they were and how fat we are). Inside the tunels used to be up and down and narower in some places and not in others. Also there were little indents that you could hide in while they went past and then follow them from behind. Also the tunels were curvy and made it hard to shoot at anything far away. At the first enterence we went back out. You could have gone further to other enterences but we didn’t. We didn’t go very far but it was very curvy so it seemed longer. All the other enterences in the circit were for tourists. They were really close together just like the part that we went in. We learned that there are three levels. The first one is three meters deep (nine feet) it is for getting around. The second one (six meters deep)is for fighting. And the third one which is nine meters deep is for when the bombs come. On our journey we went in the first and second levels (they don’t take the tourists to th third level because of the chance of them getting choked). The kitchen and generals room were also interconected with the tunnels (not now though). After that we went to a place were they colected unexploded bombsand shells to make their own homemade explosives. They burryed unexploded shells and used them as anti-tank mines. They sawed open bombs for the explosives (doesn’t seem like the best thing to do) and then put it into things to use as mines. After seeing the tunnels we went back to see the movie. The lady in the movie talked about how Cu Chi was shuch a piecefull place but how the “ruthles American bombs decided to demolish this beautiful land” (OK one or two of the words were wrong but that was the basic message). Then she talked about how the people of Cu Chi defended themselfs. She never said anything about the Viet Cong hiding there or that many of the people there were against comunisim. Fighting with the Viet Cong was almost like a game of hide and seek for the Americans because they had to find where they were hiding and then clean them out. And they were tring to hunt the Viet Cong and what is a game of hide and seek without the seek?
After we saw the movie we went back to Ho Chi Minh City. On the way we saw a house that was tipped back. Our guide said that the people here have to check for tunels but this guy (who was not a native of the area) didn’t check and he built his house with it’s back end on a tunnel! After that we drove for a while until we came to a rubber plantation. There were litterally thousands of rubber trees! The workers tap the tree every three days to bet rubber. It’s kinda like getting suryp from trees. After seeing the plantation we continued driving back to Saigon. On the way back he talked about how Chinese cars don’t work well. He said “Chinese car first time you drive left fron whell say ‘bye bye car!’ and you see you tire on the other side of the road and you say ‘oh there’s my tire on the other side of the road!’” After the tour we went back to the hotel and went out for lunch. Then we walked around some and then went to the hotel and hung out. We went swimming and when we got out we didn’t need towels, it was so terribly hot! After swimming we went out and walked some more until we found a good spot for dinner. After dinner (you know what happened) we hit the sack.