The next day we headed to Ho Chi Minh City. The streets here were absolutely crazy. There are about 2.5 million motor bikes just in the city and they fill the streets like a river constantly flowing. It took me a while to get the hang of crossing the road. Taking the first step out was the hardest part because none of the drivers paid any attention to pedestrian crossings. So you just had to step out and keep walking at a constant speed and keep going until the reached the other side. If you stop you’re screwed because you’d just get stuck in the middle. If you run or slow down you’re also screwed because the drivers aren’t expecting it and will run you down. But if you keep walking they weave around you expertly and you just have to trust them otherwise you’ll get stuck on one side of the road all day.
We went to see the Chu Chi Tunnels while we were here. I thought this was going to be pretty boring but it turned out to be really good. Some of the tunnels were originally used to hide weapons during the French occupation but then during the American War the tunnels were expanded slightly and the network was extended massively so they eventually stood at 75 meters long. The famous battleground is now the most famous tourist attraction in Vietnam where the Vietnamese were the unlikely winners of the war. They won due to their clever traps and various creations that captured and killed American soldiers. These were so impressive because they were all virtually free and used nature and the land. So where the Americans had the massive advantage of having plenty of money for ammunition and supplies, something the Vietnamese were dangerously short on, but they made up for it with their creativity.
Holes were dug everywhere and covered with leaves and grass but with lethal spikes hidden beneath, waiting for an American leg to slice through. Even the iron spikes themselves were clever creations.; they were made from the unexploded bombs that were dropped by the Americans which were taken apart and melted down to create new and very successful weapons.
Not only were the weapons impressive but the tunnels themselves were too. They were hand dug and up to 10,000 people lived in the tiny space under ground. They lived here for up to 30 years and built an underground community with schools, hospitals and kitchens. People were married and babies were born to the underground world. Many people only ever emerged at night time to see to their crops.
Nowadays the battlefield is transformed for tourists and the lush greenery has recovered so its difficult to imagine what once happened here. Drink and ice cream stalls welcomed us at the entrance and Sam had a go with an AK47 and was very pleased with himself. One of the tunnels was expanded so that us big Westerners can fit it in and even after the expansion it felt horrible to be down there for just a minute.