At the end of our week in Mui Ne we got the bus back to HCMC/Saigon. The journey was pretty standard and uneventful and when we got back we just found a guest-house and chilled. The following morning we got up early to go on a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels that we had booked the previous day. The Cu Chi tunnels are an area of the tunnel system that was built by the Viet Cong (the North Vietnamese) to be used in guerilla fighting, so that they could be unseen and unheard and always had the element of surprise on their side. This particular stretch of tunnels reaches from the jungle at the Cambodian border to Saigon (over 250km!) The tunnels are tiny, yet efficient, they have electricity in some parts and come up into little bunkers that were used as kitchens or medical rooms and stuff. Some of the entrances to the tunnels are so small that you really have to squeeze into them! And the tunnels themselves can get tiny too - some of the people that we were on the tour with us changed their minds once they had gone in and came back out of the tunnels! The tour was very interesting but it was so evidently full of anti-American propaganda, even though the tunnels were a tactic used by the VC to surprise and attack the Americans and South Vietnam's villages! There was even a video that was supposed to be information about the tunnels but all it talked about was how terrible America was - which it was but we just got the feeling that we didn't learn much of the real story of the tunnels. While we were on the tour we met a really sound couple called Jason and Laura and discovered that they were moving to a guest-house two doors down from us. So, when we got back from the trip we went for lunch together and then arranged to meet up a little later for dinner and drinks.
While we had been in Mui Ne we had thought about our pending 36 hour journey and realised that we had the time to not have to do it all in one go! We also thought that it would be interesting to spend a bit of time in the capital of Cambodia and to go to the killing fields which we hadn't had time to do last time. So, we decided that as long as they didn't charge us any extra to split our journey we would try to change it so that we spent two nights in Phnom Penh! So after we had eaten lunch on the day of the tunnels we went to see about changing it - which turned out to be no problem at all! - v.happy!
Later that evening we went to a nice western restaurant to meet Jason and Laura and ate and drank there until they asked us to leave because they were closing! Oops! We wanted to carry on drinking so we headed a little further down the road to the roof-top bar we had drank at on Halloween (except we drank at the bar on the ground floor this time!) and stayed there for the next few hours! It was really cool because I got on with Laura really well and Ki got on with Jason really well too, so we just sat and talked and drank and smoked until about four in the morning! Really good night though!
The next day we felt rough! But it was our last day in Saigon and we had arranged to go to the war remnants museum with Jason and Laura! We didn't want to knock on for them in case they had changed their minds and wanted to stay in bed, so we just went on our own - as rough as we felt we really wanted to see it! When we got there we looked at all of the American artillery. It was all huge! The double helicopters were massive and so were all the tanks and bombs and bullets! Scary! Ki had his photo taken next to them all - boys toys :) - but as impressive as the size of them all is, I don't like what they represent.
The museum itself was really good, it was almost all photographs of the war as opposed to physical things that were used like other museums, so for me, instantly more interesting. However, it was very full of propaganda - as you'd expect. Some of the pictures were heart breaking. The evil displayed in some of the images is unthinkable. There were pictures of people being tortured and killed in horrific ways - the worst one I think was being dragged along by their feet by trains and trucks until they were dead. One thing that was horrible as well, was the pride on some of the Americans faces; there was one picture of four American soldiers crouched down next to three decapitated bodies with one of the soldiers holding all three of the victim's heads in his hand - posing for the picture like he'd just baked a cake or something; the caption under the picture says that the reason for printing this image is to show that the army can 'really f*** over your mind if you let it', something that is pretty evident in most of the pictures we saw. There were also loads of images of children and adults who had been effected by 'agent orange' (a chemical bomb dropped by the Americans) which were horrible, and also recent; many of the American soldiers who had been exposed to 'agent orange' but who didn't suffer any effects directly, went on to have children with deformities after the war. There was also a glass tank filled with some kind of liquid with two real deformed foetus' inside it (they have no sense of reserve). When we came out of the museum Kieran commented that if all of the big artillery stuff had been at the end of the museum he wouldn't have felt so happy to pose next to them. I knew how he felt, but it also made me realise how much propaganda there was: not once was anybody except the Americans mentioned, not even the South Vietnamese who were supposedly fighting with them! I know that the Americans did do an awful lot of horrendous things during the war but the VC were no innocent party, in fact, from reading 'The Girl in the Picture' - which seems to be written from a non biased position, the VC were as bad, if not worse in some ways, than the Americans. It was just a horrible, evil war that was pretty much unnecessary, especially for America!
While we were at the museum we'd bumped into Jason and Laura - as we'd hoped we would and so when we'd all finished there we walked back to our hostels together - stopping for ice cream and to buy my sunglasses from Accessorize (I was chuffed when we found them!). When we got back we all went for a farewell meal at Hoa Mai and played pool, I was very hungover and tired and quite quiet but Ki and Jason enjoyed having a drink and when we played doubles Kieran and Laura beat me and Jason! :( - I don't think I'll ever beat Ki if I cant even do it when I'm playing with someone really good! But never-mind, we had a good last night in Vietnam.