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Cu Chi Tunnels: A Show of Vietnamese Pride

cu chi tunnels

“Local pride”. What everybody advocates when it comes to tourism. However, is it only limited to buying souvenirs or home-grown products? Cu Chi Tunnels goes beyond that.

On the first week of October, my officemates Mab, Kuya Julius, Kay and I boarded a plane to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. For this trip, we were hosted by Kuya Julius’ sister’s family, the Calibaras. We did not waste time!

Resilience of the Vietnamese People

We headed over the Backpackers Street (Pham Ngu Lao) to book a tour package to Cu Chi district of HCMC. We were entertained by our Cu Chi Tunnels tour guide Mr. Bom which has quite an interesting story.

He may not speak English too well, but he made us laugh and think. He was one of those people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand — and even had a bullet scar to show.

cu chi tunnels
Our first stop before Cu Chi Tunnels was the Handicapped Handicrafts. Individuals with different disabilities unleash their creativity in making Vietnam-themed portraits made of eggshells. Taking photos in the gallery is strictly prohibited. But I have to say, the works are quite expensive primarily because it is an enterprise that caters to the disabled’s needs.

cu chi tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels: Genius and Grit during the Vietnam War

In no time, we made it to the Cu Chi Tunnels proper. These 75-mile long networks of tunnels were used a hiding places and strategical base camps to manufacture weapons as well as entrap foreign intruders.

Mr. Bom tells that every Vietnamese has a story to tell when it comes to the war. On his part, he still gets tearful in telling the story of how he lost his entire family to the wire, but managed to survive until now.

cu chi tunnels
One of the big factors of their survival can be summed up in the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were preserved by the government, and were enlarged and restored to accommodate tourists.

The Cu Chi Tunnels were used as secret supply and communication routes for the Viet Cong soldiers. Being an agricultural country, they had to be resourceful and tactful when it comes to resisting American forces using only what is readily available to them.

cu chi tunnels
The Viet Cong designed trap doors with bamboo spears and tunnel systems dug by hand. Below, we finally got to immerse ourselves into the lives of the soldiers during the war.

We delved into a short tunnel system that only goes smaller, darker and windier as you go in. Thankfully, the Cu Chi Tunnels have been cemented and dim lights illuminate the way. So… not very Viet Cong experience after all.

cu chi tunnels
In reality, the Cu Chi Tunnels used to be laden with booby traps and explosives and has effective design to that the it became a frustration to the Americans who failed in many of their operations to destroy the tunnel systems.

Lots of travel bloggers do not recommend going to the Cu Chi Tunnels because it is mainly of historical significance. You really have to go  with an open heart to understand its significance to their lives today.

cu chi tunnels
I have to say that Mr. Bom looked really proud of Vietnam’s history. After all, they have stood and prevailed against a super power like the US — with mainly a troop of farmers who did not know much about systematic combat but with skills, intelligence and heart to fight.

Our Cu Chi Tunnels tour was capped off by sharing food among our tourmates. Sliced cassava dipped in ground nuts coupled with tea — the usual diet of Viet Cong soldiers during the war.

cu chi tunnels

I know they always say “local pride” about tourism. But I felt it in a very real way, of all places, inside the Cu Chi Tunnels.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Angelique Misa
    January 20, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    Wow! informative and interesting article you have here! thanks for sharing. I hope I get to visit Vietnam and get to see and experience its culture!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      Thank you, and I sure hope I encouraged you enough to travel 🙂

  • Reply
    Janice
    January 18, 2015 at 11:18 AM

    This is really very interesting stuff. Most of the time, the stories we hear about the Vietnam war are from the American perspective. So, it’s nice to hear the other side of the story. I’m looking forward to your Saigon post! 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      I agree with you! Hearing it from the Vietnamese is new to me. One of my highlights actually 🙂

  • Reply
    rayrose samson
    January 16, 2015 at 9:57 PM

    A nice trip here. Hope to visit this soon

  • Reply
    franckxethee
    January 16, 2015 at 9:14 PM

    There’s so much history when it comes to the Cu Chi tunnels. It’s also nice to appreciate the beauty and heritage of the place.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      It’s a must-visit for those who want to know what’s behind the Vietnamese resilience 🙂

  • Reply
    Aisha Kristine Chong
    January 16, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    this is exciting and i find these stuff truly interesting – i wish I can go there in the future to visit.

  • Reply
    Alissa
    January 16, 2015 at 4:02 PM

    I wish I can go there. We were supposed to travel to Vietnam but we changed our route to Singapore. You’re lucky you’ve been there though!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      Try Vietnam again! They have very rich culture that’s a sight to see 🙂

  • Reply
    louisechelle
    January 16, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    Looks like a great adventure! Vietnam is really one of my to visit place because of its rich culture too. I guess most Asian countries are really rich in culture, agree? 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      I agree! Just seeing Southeast Asia makes me interested in learning history, anthropology, etc. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jhanz
    November 27, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Looks like you had a lot of fun! 🙂 Made me wanna travel Vietnam too!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      March 2, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      Glad I encouraged you to do so 🙂

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