While in Saigon we arranged a trip to the outlying areas.
First it was off to the Cu Chi Tunnels, these are located northwest of the city
Our tour guide had the driver make a stop about 5km/3miles from the tunnels. This stop was to visit local artisans. These people have been affected by the after-effects of ‘Agent Orange and Napalm’ even though they themselves were not in the war (we’ll touch on this in a future post). They did make some beautiful hand-made pieces.
Now it was off to the Tunnels. These tunnels were used by the Vietnamese during the “Vietnam War” to avoid the American soldiers and some went all the way into Cambodia.
Exhaust and Ventilation Holes
The Castrator was named because as you entered a building, when opening the door it would swing down from the roof. Even if you managed to stop it from jabbing you the bottom section would continue into the testicle area.
There were many women that fought in the Vietnamese army, they even had Artillery Squadrons.
The Viet Cong manufactured slip-on shoes from old tires.
These shoes were made larger at the back and narrower at the front. This was to fool the enemy soldiers into thinking they were following the foot prints (person) when in fact they were going in the opposite direction.
Now it was time to enter to tunnels for a short distance, then dropping down to a lower level. These sudden changes in elevation were designed to trap an enemy soldier if being followed.
The Vietnamese would eat and survive on Boiled Cassava, which we sampled. It was a little bland but with some salt mixed with chili powder it improved.
The Tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting tunnels located in the “Cu Chi District” of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the “Vietnam War”, and were the “Viet Cong’s” base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as “Secret passage” during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. (Wikipedia)
Next it was off to the Mekong River. We stopped a rest area with a restaurant where lunch was provided before boarding a boat.
The boat would take us to Coconut Island (Con Phung). As we travelled across the Mekong River there appeared to be quite a bit of cut vegetation floating down. As it turns out, these plants live on the surface of the water, who new.
On the island they make many items out of Coconut, Honey and other spices, such as Candied Ginger, Coconut Candies, Honey Tea, Coconut Wine and a Coconut Liqueur with and without snakes in the bottle.
Honey Tea and Candied Ginger.
On the Island they had a water transportation system that the locals use for moving people and goods around.
Disembarking our local transport to go to our boat back to the mainland.
Many of the local boats of all sizes have eyes painted on their bows. This is because when people moved into this area there were many large predators on the river, they painted to eyes so they appeared they were a bigger animal than the predators, as you see this continues to this day.
The sun was setting and dusk was upon as we travelled back, and we witnessed a nice setting sun.
Now its back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Next: Saigon Pt.2