During the guided tour through Cuchi you will be able to crawl through a tunnel and you will realize how hard it was to move around in this underground-tunnels. I stepped in a few meters but decided not to do all of it, but rather move back out again. The soil there is simple mud, but pressed togeather and hard almost like concrete, as long as it is dry.
The Vietcong could produce anything in the jungle and inside of their tunnels, rice-paper is one of these things and you will be shown by a young lady how easily and fast it is produced. The rice is cooked first and then backed. It will be roasted in the pan in the back of my photographs more or less like a pancake, while beeing covered by a matress.
At the end it is put on the straw-matress in front of my pics in oder to dry and for taking it out of the pan the lady uses a special round tool,so the paper would not stick on her fingers, very clever !
The main attraction of Cuchi / Cu Chi is the system of the tunnels that was built by the Vietcong in order to fight against the US-army that was based closeby Cu Chi. In that openair-museum you will be able to walk through the jungle and you will see various examples of underground fortifications and fighting methods. At first you will enter the museum through a wide, modern tunnel that will take you to the first huts that are partly underground with a low roof.
You will hardly ever be able to find the right places to enter the tunnel-system and when you found it by accident you will see that it will work for small and skinny people only. The top-cover has 2 strings to lift it up (my 2nd pic), then you slip in and close the cover again. Our guide showed us how to do it and some slim persons ofour group could try it as well. The Vietcong had no maps at all about these places, but they knew it in mind just as well as the places, where they had put the land-mines and other traps.
You will see a big variety of deadly traps, that were constructed by the Vietcong : On my main photo you will see a trap that had lots of iron-sticks waiting for anyone falling into that trap, that was covered by grass on top and opened with a simple mechanism,whe stepping there. American soldiers really had to be aware of these traps everywhere and they became even more effective once that the ground was covered by all the leaves that had fallen down after using agent-orange, a means of war-fare that made sure that all trees would loose their leaves immedeately.
Puppets dressed in the uniforms of Vietnamese soldiers are to be found in many places in the open-air-museum of Cu Chi and in some of these cases it is hard to tell from the distance, wether it is a puppet or one of the museum-guides, who are dressed that same way.
b.t.w. the one in my main picture is a puppet, sitting on the left !
There are different huts that will show a short film about the Vietnam-war and about fighting-methods of the Vietcong. Our movie was in german and for every language there is a different hut with benches and the large map and a small-scale-model of the underground-villages and tunnels.The Vietcong really thought of everything : they had a special system for the smoke to get out into the air, when they were cooking in the tunnels and the tubes inside of bamboo-sticks were taking fresh air into the tunnels.
This old tank was left back by the americans after they had to give it up in an attack. Their headquarters were just a few miles from here and the vietcong did use the steel of these abandoned tanks in order to construct their deadly traps and other weapons.
b.t.w. the former enemy of war is really welcome today in Vietnam and everybody is treated like an old friend even by the elder generation,that was really hard to believe for me, but you could see and feel it anywhere and also our tourguide told us : Vietnam is looking forward not backwards !
There were various entrances to the tunnels, some of them leading to the right place, some of them getting the enemy into a trap, so it was almost impossible for the enemy to get into the tunnel-system. There were no maps about these good and false entrances, but all Vietcong new them by heart.
After the Vietnam-war the americans were able to study the tunnel-system and to construct a bomb against it, while they had no chance to do so during the war.
This is a dining area for Cu Chi guerillas; there are similar commander meeting rooms, living space for family & etc.
You may wonder how are they getting enough air underground? There were never be enough air underground and the air is always stuffy and hot. Cu Chi people ingenuously placed air well every few tenths of meters using hollow bamboo to the surface and conceive the upper end with anthills.
It’s too late for American to figure out those anthills are actually ventilation for the tunnel systems!!!
This is a mock-up model to illustrate the building of Cu Chi tunnel during one of the AV session visiting the Cu Chi Tunnel system.
The tunnels were built like 3 levels cobweb underground systems complete with living, dining, meeting sections as well as for fighting. The right bottom of the model show the emergency exit to rivers if the tunnel systems were to be infiltrated by American soldiers.
There are a variety of guns here if you are that way inclined. It's not my thing but lots of the guys on our trip were keen to have a go. The price varies depending on which gun you want to fire. but for around US$20 you can buy 5 rounds of ammo. It does go quick. Ear protection is a must, even you are just taking photos.
I’m really not kidding when I mentioned that America soldiers will fail to infiltrate the tunnel system. Just look at the illustration is being performed by one of the Cu Chi marshal. They will carry the cover as they enter and no one can really spot the tiny cover that camouflage so well with the surrounding. It’s definitely no way to find the entrance especially after the rain because the tiny crack will be fully sealed by soils.
The actual tunnel is much smaller and certain section will be purposefully built and reinforced to very narrow (1/5 as shown in picture) and only accessible by average Viet-cong members.
It is quite useless for an American soldier to found a tunnel entrance really. They will fail to enter the entrance, not to mention will get stuck in the tunnels.
They have enlarged the tunnel that visitors are allowed to enter. I would have hated to see how small it was for the VC. There is an exit point a little way along in case you have a panic attack. There were many on our trip that would not go in. Claustrophobics beware!