“Finally”I hear you say! After a 3 part series of articles, we are getting to the Cu Chi tunnels. Welcome, dear reader, to the 4th and final part of my series on the cooking class and Cu Chi tunnel tour. The tour itself began with a short introductory movie, the details of which I have all but forgotten. Luckily, I remember much more of the information given to us by our guide. She told us how ingenious the tunnel system was; protecting the population of Cu Chi by having them (effectively) all living below ground; how the tunnels were virtually undetectable to enemy soldiers; and how key there were to Vietnamese victory in the war.
The tunnels were one of the biggest advantages the Vietnamese had over the American army. They were well constructed, with the main living chambers constructed a few feet below ground and bomb shelters constructed deeper and reinforced with an A-frame structure design. To ensure that the smoke from their kitchen did not give them away, they constructed several small vents and only cooked in the early morning, so the smoke was better camouflaged. This is demonstrated in the image below.
The ventilation shaft exits were sprinkled with chilli powder, to stop the American Army dogs from sniffing them out. Entrances were extremely small and well hidden in the ground. They were covered with leaves and just wide enough for a human to get into. Marta, our guide and I each tried to get into the tunnels. I was far taller than both Marta and our guide, who became stuck in the holes and needed help to get out. I used my super long arms to heave myself out. The size of the tunnels not only made them hard to detect but meant that most enemy soldiers would not fit in with all their equipment.
Following this, Marta and I were taken into the tunnels by a guide working at the museum. They were tiny, to say the least. Despite being expanded for foreigners to visit, Marta was forced to walk at a 90 degree angle. I couldn’t even manage that and shuffled along like a penguin, my head dangerously close to the ceiling. For reference, I am 6 foot 3 inches and Marta is about a foot smaller than I am.
Next, our guide took us to a display showcasing the various traps used by the Vietcong. The traps themselves seemed almost medieval in look, and effect. Originally designed to assist with the hunting of boars and other animals, they worked just as well on the US Army.
After this, we visited a few mock-rooms (such as a dining hall and hospital) but Marta and I were pretty exhausted by this time and we soon decided to leave. Seeing the Cu Chi tunnels has shown me that they played a big role in the Vietnamese war effort and eventual victory.
Thanks for sticking with me through this (long) series of posts, folks.
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