Th Cu Chi tunnels are about 55 km outside of Saigon and were a military stronghold for the North Vietnamese army throughout the war. The fighters and their support staff lived in the tunnels during the day and came out at night to tend crops, go on patrol and replenish supplies. The tunnel complex was huge. At one time 16,000 people lived in the tunnels. The US tried for years to destroy the tunnels on bombing raids and on foot but never entirely succeeded.
The tunnels have been enlarged to allow safe passage for tourists if you wish to go through them. We also saw examples of booby traps and trap doors used in the war.
Perhaps the most profound thing was the jungle. Distance of sight is about 10ft in all directions – moving through it is like being blind. Visibility is zero
Our guide was an officer in the south Vietnamese army and worked as an interpreter for the US during the war. Following the war he was arrested by the north Vietnamese and spent 2 years in a re-education centre. He was 65 kilos when he went in to the camp and 37 kilos when he came out. His memories of the war and of the changes during and after the conflict made for some fascinating stories today and added immensely to the quality of the day.
Saigon sprawls over 2000 sq km and it took a while to escape the suburbs on the way to the tunnels. We were entertained by the usual street life – also passed orchid farms and fish sellers.
Headed out this evening to a roof top restaurant for our final dinner here. We head to the Mekong Delta tomorrow.
Our dinner in the sky was fabulous. Eating wonderful vietnamese food overlooking the skyline of Saigon. The night air was like warm silk.