I then joined him on a wander around some of the streets looking for the big market we had been told was close at hand, however we never did find it, asking directions from people who can't speak your language is not all that easy and doesnt work too well.. I did get some fridge magnets I wanted but not much else., returned to Hotel and nibbled our meagre rations, Then we went down and got on the bus to Cu Chi Tunnels. We had the choice of going to the big Australian War Memorial and laying a wreath, but as we are not Auzzies and plenty of Kiwi soldiers fought and died, without a wreath to lay for them we chose to visit the Tunnels where the Viet Cong lived and fought against our men.
As we drove towards the tunnels I couldn't help thinking about the men both Auzzie and Kiwi who forght side by side and struggled through the very wet area of paddy fields and Rubber tree plantations, it couldn't have been easy or comfortable in this extreme heat; 40 degrees and 100% humidity, and it must of been difficult spotting who was for them and who was against. A deadly war.
There are tanks and coppers parked outside around the walk to the Tunnels.
The forest is sparse and quite young trees, because the Americans sprayed everything with Agent Orange to defoliate all the tress and it killed them, they are slowly regenerating. Within the forest there are some small groups of statues, tableau's, of dressed Viet Cong and nurses and wounded people and animals. As well as many different tunnels some are able to be crawled down and some not. I chose not to actually go down into the earth,as I am a bit claustrophobic so I just pretended to have been down there,
Erle crawled through and some were pretty tight, others opened up into rooms. Way back then there were virtually cities under ground where hundreds of whole families lived for long periods of time in the dark airless cells and tunnels deep within the earth. There were 3 levels of tunnels some ran for miles!
The entry to these tunnels was so tiny just about 12 inches square, we though no man could get in or out of the tiny opening, but a Vietnamese man came running through and jumped down the tiny hole and pulled the lid over the top of his head and the hole just vanished as it was covered with leaves and rubbish off the forest floor. Then just a quickly he leapt back out and ran back into the forest.
Entrances have been much enlarged to allow our much larger fatter bodies to get into the tunnels at all.
We were also shown man-traps that were specially dug and built to kill and injure our men, and did indeed do just that, these were nasty torture chambers that would impale a man many times extremely painfully. There were many varieties of them.
We actually stopped for a meal on way back, the only time it really rained on us, great big heavy rain drops as is the case in the WET season in Vietnam. The meal was not particularly memorable in fact many of us felt we picked up a tummy bug here. I was ok but others were not.