Friday, November 13, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City: Cu Chi Tunnels

Approximately 70km outside of Ho Chi Minh City are the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground web of tunnels utilized during the Vietnam War. The tunnels were a base for the region's military committee, and were used to house and transport soldiers. Several SAS trips toured the Ben Duoc Tunnel Complex, a 200km stretch of tunnels that survived American bombing and was nationally recognized as a historic relic December 15, 2004.

This is one of many entrances to the tunnels. The openings were kept covered and hidden, and small groups were assign to each one. The soldiers only knew where their entrance was, so if captured they were not very useful to the Americans. This one has been slightly enlarged. One of the guides demonstrated how to get in and out of the hole.

A couple of students also tried getting down the entrance. Because Vietnamese people are generally much smaller than Americans, it was near impossible for American soldiers to follow down a hole, even if they located one.

Many traps like this one were set up around the area. Originally dug out to trap tigers, spikes were added during the conflict. Between 10-15 percent of American casualties were attributed to traps like this one.

The groups were also shown a reconstruction of a weapons workshop. The Vietnamese people would take old weapons and shells, and create land mines and grenades to use during fighting.

The American base in the area was set up a mere 5km from the tunnels. For two years after it was built, the Air Force was unable to bomb the area because they would bomb the base in the process. After many failed attempts to conquer the tunnel dwellers, orders to abandon the base and bomb the tunnels were issued. This crater was formed by one of the bombs, which caused the collapse of many tunnels.

This entrance has been enlarged enough for tourists to enter. Following a guide, the students crawled 300 feet through the tunnels. This area was enlarged by 40 percent, but the students still had no space to turn around and had to crawl the whole way. They found it hard to believe that people traversed this way for years in tunnels that were much smaller, but had fun scurrying through the short passageway.

1 comment:

  1. It's so good to see a picture of you, Alyse!!!! We miss you and Ali soooooooo much!!!!!!