Friday, October 30, 2015

cu chi tunnels

Thursday morning we went to the airport and were greeted by Merry Christmas signs. Seems a little early to me, Singapore. :)
Tatum requested to sit by Caleb which was more than fine with us! ;)
Caleb got his visa for Vietnam in advance. Ours never worked out so we had to get a visa on arrival. We were really worried it would take forever and we would keep him waiting and wasting his time in Vietnam at the airport. Thankfully it was a really quick process and we were out of there in plenty of time for a Cu Chi Tunnel tour we had tentatively booked. We waited at a large grocery store for them to pick us up and our gets Vietnam stardom began. 

He's kissing him! That would be so weird in America.
The tour we booked was a bus tour but to call the vehicle a bus seems a bit extreme. It was probably closer to a large van. But regardless it was a tight ride for sure. We were the last ones to get picked up so there were no seats together. Someone was nice enough to move so Brennan and Tatum could sit together but the rest of us were separated. The aisle was tiny and and there was virtually no leg room. Caleb got a luxury ride in the front. At least it looked luxurious from where I sat. But he said there was absolutely no AC up there and he was baking. But he did have a more exciting view:

At one point the guide took Declan from me and carried him to the front to sit with Caleb. No complaints here!

The night traffic on the way back from the tunnels.

Our first stop on the tour was to a place called Handicapped Handicrafts. They employ individuals with handicaps to make this amazing artwork with egg shells. We obviously didn't look at the tour very closely because we had no idea we were stopping here. But it was fun to see the artwork and a great opportunity to stretch our legs.

I don't know a lot about the Vietnam war. I should probably do something to remedy that. I learned a little bit from our guide but he wasn't always the easiest to understand. These tunnels are where the Vietcong (the north) would hide during warfare with the south Vietnamese and the Americans.
Here's the first and smallest tunnel we saw. This worker gave us a demonstration of how they would have gotten in the tunnels and then anyone could try it themselves if they wanted. No thanks.

Caleb tried it out though.

The video cracks me up because of the guide's obsession with the fact that Caleb was an American. He referred to that fact constantly the whole afternoon. In just this short video you can hear him make reference to it twice. It was hilarious and kind of uncomfortable. He actually fought in the war but on the same side as America. He clearly harbors some resentment toward America for their abandonment which is totally understandable but also totally unrelated to us. I was grateful he chose Caleb as his targeted American and left the rest of us alone.

The hole seemed quite tiny. If you could get down to at least a squat inside there then there were tunnels going horizontal you could try to crawl through.
"Tiger" traps.
Declan was pretty sure he needed to be the center of attention so he liked to stand by the guide when he had everyone's undivided attention.
Another tunnel opening. So tiny!

This is probably my favorite picture of these two.
Trying it out.
This was a water hole that somehow prevented the tunnels from flooding. I can't say I really followed how that worked exactly...
They had several different scenes set up, mannequins and all. It was hilarious to watch Declan check these ones out. You could tell he started out thinking they were real. I would love to know what was going on in that little brain of his.

These big mounds hid the air holes.
The guide was strong considering how short and old he was. He put all the young guys in the group to shame with how many times he could lift the end of this tank arm.

More traps.

Then it was time to try out the 20 meter tunnel that was "tourist-sized". Declan and I made it down to check out the opening but was it.
That archway behind Brennan and Tatum is the tunnel. Yikes! Brennan insisted both of the kids could go with him so I took the backpack and headed up. He was back up just a few minutes behind me. He said Declan flipped out almost immediately...surprise, surprise. It was so dark!
Caleb did the whole thing and got this awesome rear shot of the person in front of him.
And this creepy picture of himself near one of the small lights in the tunnel.
Coming out at the other end. He said it was miserably hot, dark and cramped. He definitely didn't make us sad we didn't do it. 
Shortly after this the tour ended, we loaded back on the bus and headed back to Ho Chi Minh City. It was a looooong drive. The kids slept so it was easy that way. But we had to listen to some of our fellow tourists drone on and on and on about the dumbest things, using the worst language. It was painful. Then they dropped us off in the middle of town with absolutely no clue where we were or where we needed to go. Thankfully our guide ended up calling us a cab to get to our hotel. The guys went out a little later and got us some yummy rice paper....things for dinner, we made arrangements for the next day and then went to bed.

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