Our second day in HCMC started off pretty early in the morning. Our tour bus to the Cu Chi Tunnels came to pick us up at our hotel at 8AM, which meant that we had to get up at 7AM to get ready and have breakfast. Breakfast at the hotel (included in the fees, by the way) was a simple affair of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions and the typical Vietnamese-style baguettes, called Banh Mi Tay. They were shorter and rounder than the traditional French baguettes, but the insides were softer and tastier. Yummy!
Before arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels, we stopped by at this wooden lacquer factory. There were rows and rows of workers, all assigned to different various tasks, such as cutting pieces out of shells with a handsaw, gluing bits of egg onto the board, or polishing the boards used for the pieces. I never realized that it was such a labour-intensive task!
Some of the pieces were very intricate as well. Like this one, that an evidently much more skilled labourer was working on. It must have taken hours and hours and patience and effort! After the workshop area, there was a small gift store area as well. Tons of little lacquered boxes and art everywhere. For some reason, there were a lot of Tintin art pieces with the words “Tintin in Vietnam” and a picture of Tintin on a rickshaw, which was little confusing because Tintin (as far as I know) has never been in Vietnam, and the closest he has ever been to was China. Huh?
And then it was (finally) on to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The Cu Chi Tunnels were used during the Vietnam war by Viet Cong guerillas as well as civilians to hide from American soldiers. They were a vast system of underground tunnels, complete with dining rooms and weapons workshops, and even had ventilation systems and multiple entryways to fool the soldiers. There were also a vast array of booby traps on display, all of them involving some sort of impalement with bamboo sticks or metal rods. Ouch.
We were also given the chance to hop into one of the original entrances to the tunnels. As you can see in the photo above, it was a pretty tight fit for most of us. And the tunnels were pretty deep too. I tried jumping in and ended up bashing my head. Ouch. We also had some time to watch a 15 minute video made by the Vietnamese government after the war, praising the guerillas for their triumphs against the American soldiers. It was all rather anti-American and very jingoistic, which was a very peculiar experience, and the video itself was very corny with overly dramatic music and such, but it was a very unique experience, I must say.
Part 3 will be up soon (hopefully)!
*update* Part 3 is here! Click here to read it! 😀