Vietnam, the place we had been waiting for, the place we thought we might spend Christmas and relax on the many beaches. With the beating, warm sun on our faces giving us the gift of a golden tan. So why, when we arrived did we get welcomed not by warmth, but the heaviest rainfall I have ever seen?!
Looking out of our window from a safe haven of the coach we could tell this was not just your average English daily downpoor. It is extremely hard to explain in writing. The only way I can best describe it, is one tiny raindrop was the size of a beach bucket!
Me, Dan and Page stepped off the coach and was so shocked to be standing knee deep in dirty, sewer ridden water that was also cold. With nowhere to get shelter we waited for the bus driver to get our bags out. Standing only for a couple of minutes we were already drenched right through to the bone. The rain was so hard hitting I could hardly take a breath or see. Having received our bags from the coach I diligently got my rain cover from my rucksack. However, Daniel and Page were not so fortunate.
We waided through the sea of rain which had created a flowing mini river down the road. We eventually found accommodation through the back streets of Saigon. We were only in the room for 2 minutes and the whole room looked like a woredrobe of all our clothes laid out to dry.
The next day we all decided to go on a trip to the 'Cu Chi Tunnels'. An area two hours away from the city, very green and lush. The tunnels took 30years to build, a complicated network of different tunnels leading all over the place. Around 250KM of tunnels in total. The Viatnamese used these in the war to hide and live away, out of sight of the Americans. The majority of tunnels were 50cm x 50cm. However, because of the tourists, some of the tunnels were made bigger to 1m wide and high.
A guide was showing us around, telling us how a few thousand Vietnamese lived in these tunnels for years. Only in emergencies would the bottom tunnel be used because it is too hot to live in.
A section showed us the entrance to one of the tunnels and you could see how tiny they were, even an umper lumpur would find it hard to crawl through, so we definately had no chance. After watching many tourists enter the rediculously sized hole and come straight back out, we decided we wouldnt go down the original tunnels, we would wait until we reach the modified tunnels for tourists!
Next was to see how the Vietnames fought against the Americans. What they used to win the war even though they were very poor and had to create weapons out of anything they could get their hands on. The tunnels were great as the Americans would not know how to find them, and the Vietnamese could pop up out of nowhere and kill. Incase an American slipped away they would already have set traps in the ground. They would cover up holes so that the Americans could fall into them, and awaiting them would be pointed sharp bamboo sticks or steel for the American to impail himself on.
We were shown tanks and even a shooting range had an eerie feel about the place. Although at the same time it felt extremely touristy like it was all fake, apart from when we got to the tourist tunnels that lead to underground kitchens, hospital and rest area. These were the tunnels we decided to venture into. Can I say it was the scariest time in my travelling, even though the tunnels were modified they were very dark and cramped. At first I was OK crawling through, but when we stopped because of having to wait for people ahead to move, with no light and you're closed in by people behind you I panicked. Noticing the walls and darkness closing in on me and the sweat dripping down my face, I knew it was time to leave and for Daniel and Page to carry on! That was the best bit of a long day.
It had been very educational and great to see the tunnels.
After we quickly visited the war museum, which was very anti-american as you can imagine. The most disturbing of them all, pictures of the effects of a chemical called Orange Agent which had been used by the Americans during the war, we got to see what it did to people. Photos of babies mutated and even US soldiers who had children later in life had mutated children.
Some pictures had executions, decapitated corpses. One photo showed an American soldier holding a corpse in just one hand. He was able to do this because there was only the head, 1 shoulder, 1 arm and part of the torso left of the body!