We were a bit wary about spending 5 hours getting to and from the Cu Chi tunnels but everything we were reading seemed to suggest it was a must see. Unfortunately we ended up on a tour with 50 other people and were one bus in a queue of at least a dozen other buses and our English speaking guide was pretty terrible so our experience was pretty poor. In fact it has to be said that looking at the entrance to a tunnel is pretty much like looking at a hole in the ground.
What was most frightening though was the size of the tunnels. They had been expanded by 20% but were still tiny and must have been horrendous to spend any time in. The system spread for 250km and was three levels deep with only the lower two levels safe from the bombings by the Americans. Two generations of Vietnamese lived in those tunnels for they were built originally for the war against the French and then more famously perhaps for the war with the Americans.
It was interesting to see the ventilation systems and the method of smoke dispersal with every effort to keep the tunnels hidden from the enemy. There was also a display of the gruesome traps used against the Americans and our guide certainly enjoyed describing the horrific injuries they were designed to inflict on the soldiers.
All in all though it appeared as though most of what we saw was fake or altered and really could have been displayed in a museum more centrally located. We felt it was a bit of a shame to waste two thirds of a day going out there and back. Still we had made the decision and there was little we could do about it other than try and make the most of rest of the afternoon and evening. So we got ourselves dropped off near the central markets on our way back and enjoyed a delicious pork bun. The rest of the markets was just selling tourist stuff and we didn’t see much that inspired us, plus anything we bought now was just going to add weight to our bags until the end of the trip so purchases are going to have to be carefully thought about.
It had been an absolute stinker of a day and as the sun went down we decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and go for a stroll around the centre of Ho Chi Minh City and found ourselves on a large promenade and enjoyed walking and admiring the modern buildings intermingled with the older style. The architecture is all quite exciting and somehow the streets seem to provide both a buzz of excitement whilst retaining a relaxed vibe at the same time.
It really is a wonderful city and one we could have spent longer walking around but unfortunately today was our last day and it’s off to the Mekong tomorrow! T
This was our group but we were often with other groups with all the guides speaking at the same time!
Ventilation for the tunnels.
A couple of snaps of the tunnels, enlarged for the tourists.
A rice paper making exhibit at the tunnels.
We always found people eating in the back alleyways and were never sure whether it was their dining room or a restaurant!
The promenade where we enjoyed our cooling down walk. There were plenty of modern buildings around here.
A statue of Ho Chi Minh in front of The People’s Committee Building.
Squeezed in amongst the modern buildings was this older building where every balcony was a different restaurant!