Published/Last edited or updated: 21st August, 2017
The Cu Chi tunnels are a testament to the perseverance of communist forces in survival and aggression—and they are very much worth seeing but visitors need to do their own research to fully appreciate the site.
The Cu Chi tunnels refer to the section of tunnels open to tourists, in the district of Cu Chi, 35 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. There are actually two sites opens to tourists, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc, about 13 km apart. However, keep in mind that the original network of tunnels was extensive and ran for hundreds of kilometres, some leading right to Saigon and the Cambodian border.
Construction of the tunnels began in the late 1940s during the First Indochina War with France. When the US military entered the picture to support South Vietnam, communist forces began expanding the network. At its height, there was over 250 km of tunnels, no more than 70 cm wide, 90 cm high, some running 30 feet deep. This subterranean maze served as shelters, communication centres and supply lines.
The US had men, modern equipment, firepower and aerial bombing at their disposal. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, most of them peasants, were outnumbered. During aerial attacks, to survive, whole villages moved underground—cramped, dark tunnels with kitchens, sleeping areas and hospitals. Despite clever engineering with disguised ventilation and drainage, the conditions were almost unfathomable. It was sweltering, hard to breathe and at risk for disease, flooding ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,300 words.)
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
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