During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong had a stronghold in the Cu Chi District, where they could take advantage of their intricate underground tunnel system.
The tunnel digging actually began about 20 years prior to the Vietnam War, when the country was fighting for independence from France. By the time the Vietnam War was in full swing, however, the tunnels had expanded to stretch over 120 miles and were key in the Viet Cong’s strategy.
The tunnels not only provided Viet Cong troops protection from US aerial attacks, but also they served as a safe house for civilians. The tunnels allowed the Viet Cong to transport supplies unseen and lay their infamous booby traps.
The US and South Vietnamese troops trained some smaller soldiers to navigate the underground system. They were called “tunnel rats” and their job was to ferret out enemy troops and booby traps. Some parts of the tunnel system are now open to tourists, as a war memorial to the thousands of Vietnamese that lost their lives there. An AK-47 shooting range was on site and the sound of constant gun fire helps set the scene.
While I enjoyed learning more about the tunnels and the incredible adaptability of Veit Cong troops, the experience was very commercialized. Everywhere you looked, there were mannequins and little “Disney display” bunkers. Photo ops were plentiful, with children climbing on a destroyed American tanker and folks taking photos in sections of the tunnels, enlarged for the Western ba-donk-a-donk (I am guilty, as you can see ;)).
Another thing that turned me off was the extreme anti-American sentiment. I suppose some of it is to be expected, as I was once told that history–not beauty–is in the eye of the beholder. Also, I’m glad I could witness the flip side of the American narrative, However, many elements of the
theme park memorial–from the videos, to the signs, to the proud display of destroyed American tanks–felt like an accusation.
I would have liked to spend more time on the farm instead.