The Củ Chi tunnels were one of the highlights of my trip and it was an eye-opener to see first hand, the network of tunnels that lies under Vietnam. The Củ Chi tunnels were not only used intensively by the Viet Congs during the Vietnam War for hiding during combat, but served as a network for food, supplies and communication! There are underground hospitals, weapon storage, and even specially designed caves for cooking food.
As you can see from the pictures above, once the door of a tunnel is closed and camouflaged with fallen leaves, it becomes almost invisible unless you know where the entrance is. Also the Vietnamese being Asian, are small in size and could fit into the tunnels. One of the Caucasian tourist tried to enter the tunnel but couldn’t even fit both his legs in! I could fit in alright but the idea of having very little air in a narrow and uneven underground passageway was scary! In some areas, you could only prone flat and crawl and its a maze with many dead ends so being lost and stuck inside indefinitely with out food or water was a serious possibility!
The 121km complex of tunnels have been preserved by the Vietnam government and it was interesting to see how the Viet Congs adapted and used whatever they could get their hands on to fight. Surrounding the area are many booby traps to capture those who were trying to locate the entrances of the tunnels.
I think the Viet Congs really mastered the art of booby traps and punji stake pits because there were so many types and they were all made from household materials such as folding chairs, window frames, doors and more. Each spike (mostly rusty ones) is designed not only to pierce through the skin but to cause more tearing and injury when you pull out the spikes.
Since this is now opened to tourist, all booby traps have been secured and marked or removed and they even widen certain sections of tunnels so that the larger sized tourist can also visit and crawl in the tunnels. There were a number of bomb craters around the area that probably occurred during the time of Operation Cedar Falls when the Americans were using the B-52’s to carpet bomb the tunnels. The Viet Congs actually salvaged what ever bomb shells they could find to retrieve the residual gun powders for themselves. They also used the tyres of abandoned trucks to make into rubber sandals.
One of the things I noticed in the area is the huge trees with overflowing fruits. Just look at the jackfruit tree in the photo above! It’s simply laden with fruits from to top of the tree to the bottom! I wonder if it’s the many deaths during the war and all the blood shed that have made the soil in this area so fertile.