Hoi An for 3 days n 4 nights was very relaxing n we got a day of beautiful sunshine. Hoi An was the original main port of Vietnam until 1945 until neighbouring De Nang took over n now has a population of 2.5 mill. Hoi An is a very relaxed,peaceful town full of bars n restaurants n of course tailors who will make anything in 24hrs. We ate, drank n relaxed for the duration! Gin tonics were great n at a £1 a go really great!! Now onto SAIGON, 10 million population, most western style city in V'nam ie more cars but still 1000's of bikes n a much more anti government feel. On landing we were met by our new guide n taken to the CU CHI tunnel network. Over 200 kms of cobweb tunnels, 3 layers n 15 metres deep, it was operated by the VC n never discovered by the USA whose bases were metres from some of the tunnels! The area is as it was then, B52 bomb craters, actual tunnel entrances (which I couldn't fit down let alone a US marine!),hospital n kitchen bunkers. You can go down n through some tunnels if you are not too claustrophobic. Highlight was the firing range where I fired over $70 of live ammo on weapons including Ak47's n the awesome M60 machine gun.20 rounds in less than 5 seconds! Bex didn't fancy firing any guns! Not her thing! Respect to how the VC used the land n their size to completely outwit the USA who finally gave up in 1973.
BEX here! Our tour guide,Son,told us how he had family who died in the war and told us more stories about what happened. He drove us straight to the tunnels built by the locals to hide from the Americans, as some opposed their intervention and sought revenge if a relative had been killed. These people were called gurillas. During the day they appeared as simple farmers to the americans but at night they would use the tunnels they had built to build weapons and traps to capture and kill. VC dressed as farmers by day n by night attacked as VC. The US couldn't identify VC from innocent farmers n as a result occasionally massacred innocent villages...converting more to VC....sound familiar?! !As a result 1 million local innocent people were killed by the Americans out of 2 million total. Near to where we are now is where the famous photo was taken of the young Vietnamese girl running away burning from napalm.
The tunnels we saw were tiny and were obviously made for the small Vietnamese so no chance Dan fitting down one! He gave it a go though! Any American who discovered them couldn't fit down either and the tunnels were so deep surface bombing was not effective. US also tried gassing the tunnels out but good ventilation cleared it! The Ho Chi Minh trail ended at these tunnels coming down from Hanoi, supporting the southern VC.
We were shown kitchens and makeshift hospital all under ground, camouflaged tunnels and dan's fave bit a firing range where u could fire with original machine guns and other guns which were just as loud!!
Will tour around Saigon tomorrow. Can see the difference already in its westernised influence as the Americans were here for abt 25 years before they left in 1973 - Starbucks,mcdonalds n KFC have made their first appearance!!