Saigon Sights

As Marty was house-bound due to his infected toe he was left behind to watch TV whilst I went on a few day trips out of Saigon, the first being to the Cu Chi tunnels, a huge network of connecting underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War. These tunnels are part of a larger system of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The tunnels played a key role in the war, providing hiding spots during combat, and were used as hospitals, kitchens and living quarters for the Viet Cong. This area of the tunnels has been turned into memorial park, with well preserved sections of the tunnels for tourists to crawl through and working models of booby traps used against the American soldiers.

Most of the tunnels available for tourists have been enlarged, making it possible for Western bodies to fit through, and some even have lights inside. The most interesting tunnel has a trap door entrance which you lower yourself into. With the trap door shut the tunnel is completely pitch black and the earth ceiling feels like it could collapse any second. Very scary, even if you aren't claustrophobic.

The booby traps on display looked vicious and the Vietnamese guide was particularly enthusiastic as he explained how they were used to kill and injure the American soldiers.

The next trip I took was to the Mekong Delta a few hours south of HCM City. The day was pleasant enough but ended up feeling a little less than authentic. We were walked through a number of stalls where we could sample Vietnamese fruits, taste snake wine, listen to a musical performance and (for some reason) play with a huge python. We then took a short boat ride down one of the narrow cannals. In the afternoon we rode bikes around one of the islands before returning to the bus back to the city.

Another day I visited the War Museum, which has old tanks and planes and hundreds of photos from the war. There are some gruesome pictures of victims of the orange agent that the US dropped all over the country. The effects of this chemical are still being felt today with children being born with horrible deformaties.

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