We spent our last full day in Vietnam exploring the Cu Chi tunnels, an example of the tunnels the North Vietnamese built during the Vietnam war to hide out and store supplies. To start off our tour, our local guide gave us a history lecture and described the organization of tunnels employed by the North Vietnamese throughout the war. As we explored the area, we were surprised to see how small the tunnels were, especially since many soldiers lived in them for months or even years at a time. The tunnels were hidden from plain view, though the Vietnamese used natural landmarks so they would recognize the entrances.
We also saw many of the traps that the Vietnamese set for the American soldiers during the war. These included swinging traps set in the ground, which would give way when stepped upon so that the soldier would fall below into spikes buried underground. Sometimes, the North Vietnamese would rub dung on the spikes so that the wounds incurred would become infected. We also saw other traps, including door traps set up to harm or even kill a solider when he opened the door to a hut and was immediately stabbed. In addition, on site there was an American tank that had been blown up long ago by a trace mine, and our class took a group photo on top of it.
Several students had the opportunity to shoot AK-47s and several machine guns down range at targets, and we had the opportunity to crawl through some of the tunnels ourselves. The area was quite tight and very dark, and several students opted to crawl out and not continue the entire path.
While the area reminded us of the horrible lengths to Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War had to go to survive, we enjoyed this interactive historical site. It was quite fun to climb on the tank, fire the guns, and crawl through the tunnel. Now each one of us can recount our experiences back in ‘Nam in full detail.