Ho Chi Minh City Day 3 (27.06.2012): Today we headed on a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tour was organised by the hostel. We set off at 8:30 arriving at the tunnels around midday. Our tour guide was an American Navy officer - today we heard the story from the other side so to speak. He had been based by the tunnels and was able to tell us of his first-hand experience.
By way of background: "The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City, 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. The tunnels were used as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped achieve ultimate military success."
A part of the trip we covered 120m of the tunnels. Claustrophobic is an understatement. I don't think I would do it again! Apparently the tunnels have been "widened for western tourists", I hate to think how small they were originally.
After arrival back at HCMC at 15:00 we headed back to the market for another look around. It's been tough resisting buying too many things as there are so many great souvenirs. We are now back at our hostel, packing and sorting out some things to send home. We still haven't gotten used to the roads here. It is day 3 without seeing a tuk tuk and I kinda miss them! Instead there are just countless motorbikes. HCMC is known as motorbike city. Apparently there are 10 million inhabitants and 8 million motorbikes. It makes crossing the road a scary experience. The motorcyclists do not obey any traffic lights, go down the pavements and even in the opposite direction to the traffic. It really is crazy.
We will be checking out of our hostel in the morning and plan to hit the history museum and the Jade Pagoda tomorrow (after sending a box of stuff home at the post office). At 19:00 tomorrow we will be getting a sleeper train to Da Nang so I will not be able to blog. We will arrive at around midday on 29.06.2012. Fingers crossed that the Vietnamese sleeper trains are comfy as it's going to be a long ride!