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Cu Chi Tunnels - Down Under


Sinh Chao (sin chow) is our morning greeting from Sinh, our local tour guide. Not as catchy as 'Are You Ready For An Adventure' but Lauren gets to hear both anyway!

Our tour arrives at the Cu Chi Tunnels following a 1.5 hour bus ride. The digging of these underground tunnels began in the 1940's and enough buckets of dirt were dumped into the river to create 210 miles of networking tunnels on 3 levels!

The remaining 75-mile complex is now a war memorial park.

With a guide, we crawl through a 2-level section of an actual tunnel. They were widened to accommodate tourists, some low-powered lighting was installed, and booby traps marked. You don't loose your guide down here!

My shoulders brush along the tunnel sides and even though we are stooped over and at times even scooting along on our butts, our heads still find the low spots above us. Wearing a hat was smart! Not to mention dark pants, bug spray, antibacterial and Kleenex for the sparse restroom!

From Lauren: It was pitch black in the tunnels, and I was walking low on my feet and feeling the wall with my left hand in order to stay straight. But then this wall of the tunnel ended abruptly into a passageway/booby trap. I fell in and don't think I've ever jumped up more quickly in my life! ha ha! mom and I had a good laugh about that in the dark!

Created to fight the French, the tunnels helped resist American troops during the Vietnam war. By early 60's, a relatively self-sufficient tunnel community was able to house hundreds of people. It provided hiding spots during combat, communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches, living quarters, and even a school.

From Lauren: there were dining rooms, kitchens and bedrooms! The biggest room we entered was the dining room, which was probably around 15' by 10'. The room was dimly lit and there were bats flying around the ceiling corners!

Besides being too small for U.S. troops to fit through, areas of these tunnels were often rigged with explosives and booby traps. U.S. military specialists, known as 'tunnel rats' became an elite group that entered a tunnel by themselves and traveled inch-by-inch cautiously looking for enemy fighters and booby traps.

An actual 'tunnel rat' was in our tour group! During the war, Rich had only minutes to plant dynamite in sections of tunnel and quickly evacuate. This was his first trip back to Vietnam. His T-shirt reads: I'm just a tourist this time!

By the end of the war, the tunnels were so heavily bombed that portions actually caved in and other sections were exposed.

The U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1975 and tourism was restricted until 1995.

There are different sections of the Cu Chi tunnels that are opened for tourists. The one we visited didn't have the AK-47 rifle range we had heard so much about.



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