As any traveller would say, itineraries change and original plans become more of a suggestion once you get into a destination. The same applied for us in Vietnam.
Originally, we were supposed to go to the beaches of Mui Ne, but we changed plans and opted for the closer Cu Chi complex instead. Nen got sick so an overnight trip with 10 hours cumulative bus travel would not work for us. Also, after an interesting experience at Saigon’s War Remnants Museum, getting on a historic and cultural experience was, in this case, better than lounging on the beach. 😉
At Pham Ngu Lao, tours to Cu Chi were sold as much as Pho were on the streets. It costs 6USD for a half-day tour and 9USD for a full day with an added visit to Cao Dai temple. We were easily sold into it and opted for the latter.
First stop was the Cao Dai temple – a 2-hour road trip from Ho Chi Minh City. The practice of Cao Dai is a combination of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism – and as many religions promote, it”s dedicated to good living and charity.
The colours of the temple were bold and striking. Red, blue and yellow were everywhere from banderitas, robes of their high priests, even the emblems inside the temple. Nen and I actually matched the occasion as we were also standing out with our bold blue and red shirts.
After the short visit, it was another two and a half hour bumpy ride to Cu Chi tunnel complex.
Once we arrived, we got into the briefing room that was designed during the time of the war. Again, we were bombarded with more anti-American point-of-view, which honestly got tiring.
The actual park was bigger than I imagined, but the tunnels themselves were definitely not for claustrophobics. Nen and I were brave enough to go onto the hole the size of a shoebox. I imagine how hard it was living in such small quarters. But if it’s between life and death, then I think being comfortable wasn”t on the top of their heads. We got to go inside a shorter series of the tunnels too (actually slightly made bigger for the tourists coming).
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It’s ironic actually how the whole tour progressed – from the good teachings promoted by Cao Dai, then a sudden shift to the horrors that was Cu Chi.
They showed us traps the Vietnamese used to brutally kill their enemies. From Trap swing doors and rope swings – it was ingenious to be honest.
You step on the rice field, BAM! A metal trap waits to capture you.
You open someone’s door, BAM! You’ll be hit with a wooden swing drilled with nails.
The “bad-assery” definitely peaks at the shooting gallery and you get to shoot some enemies yourselves.
The Cu Chi tunnel shooting gallery allows you to shoot using various different rifles – AK47, M16, M4 carbine. Prices start at 10 USD for 10 rounds of bullets – with the price increasing depending on the gun you”ll use. We only got the carbine – which was the cheapest one.
BOOM BOOM BOOM!
Nen & I got 5 rounds each. The feeling? must say pulling the trigger was exhilarating – as if you suddenly release a big burst of energy.
But well I was not as bad-ass as I thought, perhaps because the target was too far that I don’t even see if I shot something or not. So definitely, no Top Shot or a casting on Wanted 2 yet for me. But it’s something I want to try again!
I love activities with adrenaline rush – and those that can somewhat potentially break your bones. But despite this, I am peaceful and usually all about harmony. And definitely this tour has in a way brought the good and the bad out of me. 🙂