Whoever knows about Viet Cong please raise your hand!
I guess some of you are movie addicts, big fans of Rambo, historians or just a history lover. Regarding myself, I have known about the Viet Cong ever since I was kid. And yes, I should admit that it was from the crazy actions of ‘Rambo’ that first taught me a bit about the Viet Cong. However, most information about their history, I ‘stole’ from the internet and books.
The Viet Cong was a military group with a strong political movement during the period that surrounded the Vietnam war. Some people said that the Viet Cong was a network of communist agents. And it’s no wonder, if you see their name - Viet Cong - Viet Nam Cong San (in full Vietnamese) - Vietnamese Communists (English), you will understand that their agendas and viewpoints completely supported and took the side of Communism. The Viet Cong controlled the majority of North Vietnam, yet they were heavily active within the South. They operated underground, ready to lunge at their enemies at any given opportunity. But, of course, they didn’t have the luxury of working directly in an open space or in the hustling and bustling capital, in fact, they worked mostly in rural areas or remote places - in short, they were accustomed to one of the harshest environments on this planet, the Vietnamese jungle. It facilitated them to build camouflaged bunkers, almost invisible hideouts with complex underground connections with tunnels that connected one bunker to the other! Believe it or not, they even had a kitchen inside!
Taking a tour to visit one of these fascinating bunkers is something that you must do when you visit Saigon. So, that was one of the first things I did when I arrived in Vietnam. After a few days of absorbing the Vietnamese culture we booked some tours, one of which included a history tour to “Cu Chi Tunnel”.
Before we reached the Tunnel itself, which is located on the outskirts of Saigon, we made a quick stop-off at a handicraft factory. The price, undoubtedly, was higher than what you can get in a Ben Thanh market. However, what’s worth to see was the factory itself. Producing all sorts and kinds of souvenirs, these factory employees are victims from the terrible war. It was so sad to see that some of them had lost their hands or their legs. Despite their life-changing conditions, they work extremely hard and this made me feel ashamed of myself.
The journey continued. After 1 hour on a bumpy bus ride, we arrived at our destination - Cu Chi Tunnel. As I mentioned before, this is located on the outskirts of Saigon, pretty much in the jungle. As we entered the location, our guide started to lead us from one place to another and during this he explained in detail - what things are, how they work and why they are like that.
In short, there are sneaky traps which were specially made for hurting or even killing someone (whose day was not so lucky. Ergh…) Explaining the usage and the story behind it, the guide also showed us how they worked.
Bombs and Tanks
Bombs that fell upon Vietnam’s territory were found by the Vietnamese. Luckily, some of them were duds which were deactivated and still in shape, however, the active ones of course had exploded, and sadly, injured and killed many people.
This replica, or in other words - dolls were used to describe how it was in the past. How they worked and what they did during the war.
Tunnel and Holes
Cu Chi tunnel is not complete without the actual tunnels! It has many tunnels, but some of them were buried deeply and couldn’t be used as a tourist attraction. Most of them were long - really long, as the main function of the tunnels were to create an underground network by linking one part of the bunker to the others - from the kitchen to arsenal, etc. Luckily, or unfortunately (I still can’t decide), one of the tunnels still works. Its length is 100 m. At first, I thought that the guide was joking when he said that we could enter the tunnel, but it appeared to be ‘a part of the tour’. After getting convinced by my brother that the tunnel might be big, I followed the group and i found myself starting to bend. The tunnel’s height was much smaller than what I had thought. I needed to squat nearly the whole way and I struggled to not collapse, as the tunnel gave me a claustrophobic sensation. It was only 10 minutes I was inside the tunnel for, but it felt like it could have been a century.