Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 3: Vibrant Ho Chi Minh Part 2 - Striking Balance

Cu chi tunnels gave us a glimpse of Vietnamese ingenuity. They make mean traps. And once the enemies got caught, they will not die instantly, rather they'll experience a slow, brutal excruciating death. I cannot imagine how painful it'll be.

After Cu Chi tunnels, we dropped by the War Remnants Museum, famous for its exhibits relating to American War crimes. You can see here the weapons used by the Americans and their effects; like agent orange and napalm bombs.  Some say that this museum only shows one sided view of the war.

War Remnant Museum

I suggest that when you go to Cu Chi tunnels, you have to visit this museum too, to strike balance.

Our 3rd day in HCMC day is all about history, the early part was spent on learning about the war that happened. The other half was spent on viewing significant HCMC structures.

Reunification Palace - serves as residence of Vietnams' former President

This is place is just near the museum we decided to drop by. Unfortunately, it's past 5pm, the Palace is close.

Reunification Palace

City Hall
Compared to our Manila City Hall, HCMC's City Hall is grander! French influence is very visible on the buildings' facade. Right infront, a statue of Ho Chi Minh can be seen.  And at night, the building is illuminated.
trio siraulo

Uncle Ho and City Hall

Ben Thanh Market
We put our bargaining skills to the test. We bought shirts, bags and souvenir items. You really have to ask for discounts and try your best to haggles. Eventually, they'll give you the price you'll ask for. 

goods for sale

It is our last night in HCMC.  We were so tired but it was worth it! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 3: Vibrant Ho Chi Minh Part 1 - CU CHI TUNNELS

A visit to Ho Chi Minh wouldn't be complete without experiencing Cu Chi Tunnels.

We heard so much about this place that we wanted to try it for ourselves. And so,we availed of a half day tour for this, it costs 8 USD/pax which also includes entrance fees and "lunch". The van picked us up around 8am, much to our delight, we saw familiar faces. The Polish family whom we met during the Mekong Delta tour were there, and Long; our guide from previous trip was also present. As usual we had a mandatory quick stop at a government subsidized souvenir store before proceeding to the tunnels.


beautiful artworks
Cu Chi is an hour away from HCMC. This intricate tunnel system is instrumental to VietCong's resistance to the American Forces. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
warning: photo overload
  • guide explaining the Cu Chi Tunnel system.
guide: listen up people! this is where you will crawl! (joke!) that's NOT what the guide said. :)
  • A trap door that leads to the tunnels.
this trap door is cleverly concealed with dry leaves
  • will we fit in that hole?! let's try it out!
will he make it?!

fits just right

  • notice how small the opening leading to the tunnel; infact the guide said this has been widened to accommodate tourists.
what's in there?!
  • before experiencing the tunnel, we went through the forest to see some tanks and exhibits
target acquired! blast away!
with the Viet Congs

cooling off before the big event
guide: take note, once you go IN, there's no turning back. it's 15-20 meters. for those who have heart disease or claustrophobic, don't go inside.

Polish Family going in

at the entrance, we saw the Polish mom and daughter leaving.
us: why? what's wrong?  you're not going in?!
mom: its stuffy in there. i'm not doing it.

  • Pitch Black
going one more level down... its pitch black inside and we have to crawl our way out. we make use of the  camera's flash and mobile phones light to guide our way. There's little air that passes inside so it's really hot and add the fact that we have to feel our way navigating through the tunnel.  I am behind a European couple and following my lead were Josh and Jachel. 

  • Crawl...Laugh...Crawl and Laugh some more
do you see me?! see the tiny white dot at the end, that's me! that's how dark it is inside.
 the 3 of us we're laughing so hard because we were thinking  what if someone release bad air, what would happen to us?! wahaha! we got separated from the group and didn't know where to go. Every 5 meters (i think), there's an exit but we continue crawling and feeling our way through the dark, on the the 3rd exit we gave up, coz we can't find our groupmates. One more exit and we could have finished the course. sayang!

  • Ta Dah!
     the haggard and the ugly! after 15 meters! Ta-dah! we made it!

Cu Chi tunnels taught us about the length humans will endure in order to survive. In these tunnels the Vietnamese' sleep, eat and live during those tumultuous time in their history. It shows how brave the Vietnamese are and above all, how they love their country, and how they are willing to fight and defend from invaders.

Cu chi definitely is a must-see.