Big Question Marks

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tunnel Rats

Well, we've truly entered the "tourist" realm--yesterday we booked a tour. We would've been more adventurous to rent a moto-scooter and just make our own way around. Yeah, we wimped out a bit, but once you see the massive flood of scooters zipping every which way you'd understand! At any given time in HCMC there are about 4 million scooters flying through the streets, this makes crossing the streets a little nerve wracking. The key, we're told is to wait for a lull in the traffic of scooters, start walking - slowly. Cars don't stop, buses don't stop, trucks don't stop, but at least the scooters can manoeuver around you easily.
Anyways, back to the tour! Our destination: the Cu Chi tunnels. Yes, the infamous tunnel network that spanned hundreds of connected tunnels and even onto a US firebase. Using these the Viet Cong could launch raids against the Americans and easily disappear.
Dug from the earth itself with no supports of any kind, the Viet Cong made everything from living quarters, kitchens, and hospitals underground, some as deep as 10 metres. It's tight, hot, and stuffy when you make your way through them. We'd recommend practicing your 'duck walk': Adrian had cramping in this legs for the rest of the day. (Dayle was just fine, thanks to wussing out at the tiny tunnel entrance and opting to stay above ground!)

But cramping and claustrophobia couldn't totally stop us from experiencing the war first-hand. Conveniently located on the tunnels grounds is a shooting range where you can fire a multitude of weapons used in the 'American War' (as the Vietnamese call it). M16, AK47, M60, M1's, its all there. Naturally we went with the AK47, and 10 bullets - total cost about $20 AUD ($12 USD), for everything else there's Mastercard.
Loud doesn't even begin to describe the sound, but the massive ringing in your ears that follows does go away in a few hours.
We got some great video, that we'll post soon. And yes, even Dayle squeezed off a few rounds for the 'revolution'.

All in all, it was a great side trip. We sort of feel like cop-outs (hopefully we'll go back to "adventure travel" soon, ie. travelling with the locals and learning via doing things the harder way), but there was a lot of back story that our guide helped to clarify about the war and it's a definite must for fellow travelers!