Saigon Hotel Chronicles: Chapter 3, Morning Cu Chi.
It's not often that one travels to developing countries and says, Let's Go Clubbing. But some people do including my pal Powers. We were out the night before until 4 something AM, and had to wake up for breakfast and our tour to Cu Chi at 6:30 AM. By some standards this would not even suffice as a proper nap. But Cora and I got ready within minutes, showered and even had some time to throw some make up on. We could not assume that the boys were responsible enough to set their own alarm, and sure enough they didn't.
We had a super simple yet incredibly delicious breakfast at the mini hotel, and then ran to meet our tour group where we waited and waited and waited for the bus.
So the boys played with the latest eyewear street fashions.
And I took pictures of little kids in their car seat.
An average Vietnamese street, with a the Hong Kong pizza tradition Pepperoni's restaurant.
One of the most immediate differences between HK and Vietnam is Hongkies are always on the go and Vietnamese can hang out anywhere.
Just don't get hit by one of the 6 million scooters in Saigon.
Then we headed to Cu Chi. It's about an hour and a half away from Saigon. Usually tours end with the souvenier stop, but ours began with one.
I'm not sure what handicapped handicrafts are. They are not made by handicapped folk as far as I could tell. Maybe they are calling the customers special?
This is how humid it was inside. I couldn't even keep my lens fog free long enough to snap a pic.
And then, we arrived at Cu Chi.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of underground tunnels that are part of a much larger network of tunnels that span much of Vietnam.
Backtracking a little, I was feeling very nostalgic before leaving for Vietnam, even if this particular era was before my time. I think a curiosity for the past, especially it's most painful moments, are deeply embedded in me. I wanted to walk the same roads my friends' fathers did when they were deployed here. I wanted to experience the lost memories, the lost lives. I wanted to feel a connection since my most beloved is deployed and I don't really understand what he's going through.
As usual, so many questions. It was really cool to experience it first hand. But also interesting and alarming to learn about the war through the Vietnamese perspective.
Our first stop, a wee tunnel just big enough for one person to fit in.
This is not where they film Lost. I asked.
Next stop, torture traps for the American enemy.
An American tank.
And more tunnels. This one was terrifying because it was pitch black and you couldn't tell how far you had to crawl before the end of the line. It has also been widened to fit Western tourists.
Don't tell anyone but my legs were terribly sore for days after crawling in there.
And the real deal!
The girls grabbed the AK 47s
And the boys fired M1s.
They did not offer us ear protection but we took it without asking. Unfortunately they were just regular music headsets! It was really F'ing loud and we had to run outta there quick.
It's actually pretty cool that they have the firing range right there because as you're walking through the grounds you hear the gunshots closeby and it's totally eerie.
Things to do before I die:
Crawl through Viet Cong guerrilla tunnels. Check.
Fire an AK 47 in Vietnam. Check.