On our last full day in HCM, Pete and I decided to make the journey out of the city to nearby Cu Chi – most famous for the vast underground network of tunnels which were used by the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese resistance during the war with America.We paid $5 each to join a group mini bus tour out to the site of the entrance to the tunnels, which took about two hours. This was including a ridiculously long bathroom break en route – but it was ok as we got to pop in to an inspiring little ceramics factory which is staffed entirely by handicapped and disabled individuals. It was set up at the end of the war and has been going ever since.
We got to watch them making beautiful crockery inlaid with eggshell and mother of pearl while we waited for our driver to do whatever it was he was doing. It was an experience in itself. When we arrived at the site of the tunnels, surrounded by peaceful forest, we were first ushered in to a large hut and shown a video which contextualised what we were about to experience. We learned how the people of Cu Chi had fought back wave after wave of American soldiers by arming every peasant farmer, woman and child. They used booby traps hidden in the forest, hidden hideaways and a huge 250km network of tunnels to evade, outsmart and attack their enemy – creating entire living quarters underground. It was fascinating and unbelievable.