Sunday, 29 March 2015

Ho Chi Minh Day 3: Cu Chi Tunnels & Swedish Massage

This morning we had breakfast as usual before heading out for our half-day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels. Although we booked the same tour agency as the day before, this time, however, the tour was running on full capacity (i.e. 10 persons).

Selfie with a sleepy Baby Boy in the minibus
(Baby Boy is feeling a lot better today, with his appetite slowly coming back)

After a 1.5 hours ride, we arrived at Cu Chi Tunnels. If you know the history of the Vietnam War, you would know that the Vietcom (Vietnamese Communist) built the tunnels to hide from the Americans. The vast network of tunnels were 250km long and and no matter how the American soldiers tried to bomb them (and killed many Vietnamese in the process), the Vietcom just kept rebuilding them. It was a really unique structure to visit.

Baby Boy and I exploring the forests in Cu Chi where the tunnels were created
(It was a really hot day, Baby Boy wasn't impressed at all)

We were first introduced to a super tiny entrance to the tunnels that require a certain amount of skill to maneuver in and out. The trick is standing straight with your hands lifted straight above your head with the cover on your hands and then bending your knees as you decend into the hole. The hole is really tiny so it was no mean feat!

Clockwise from left: Apparently the original hole was expanded to fit tourists otherwise most of us wouldn't be able to fit in it! If you were just a wee bit bigger, you definitely could not have gotten in and out!;
An Australian lady in our group trying to get in using the method described above;
Trying to climb out of the hole.

I had wanted to give it a try too but I was carrying my baby (and I was scared that if I can't fit into the entrance it would be extremely embarrassing! *laughs*).

Next, we were introduced to one of many booby traps that both sides laid to badly injure the enemy. They were really scary to be honest!

One of the booby traps that will cause you to fall in and get pierced by the sharp bamboo spikes underneath (*shivers*)

We were then brought to another part of the tunnels where we can experience a slightly bigger entrance. The cover was removed so that we could see it but as you can see, there was not a lot of room to get in as well.

A bigger entrance with steps
(Reminded me of what they dig to bury a coffin in)
Sister demonstrating that there really isn't a lot of space to get in and out of this entrance

The problem with going underground is the lack of oxygen, which they remedy by making a hole in piles of soil that look like termite hills.

See the air hole right in the centre?
The American soldiers used dogs to sniff out these airholes to find the tunnels

You'll be surprised but even the women were recruited to fight.

A recreation of a Vietcom woman

The Vietcom dressed to look like Cu Chi farmers, which explained why the majority of those who died in the Vietnam war were farmers (the American soldiers got confused and couldn't differentiate the two). It really made me sad to know so many innocent farmers died during the Vietnam war. It's damn ridiculous to me =(

Anyway, they also brought us to see an old military tank and a row of different booby traps they used to badly injure or kill the enemy. I got quite freaked out to be honest. I'm not one that likes gore and the brutality of war.

Military tank
One of the many booby traps used during the Vietnam war
(This one's a sticking trap. Get your leg caught in it and don't expect to take it out in one piece *shudder*)

There was also a shooting range on premise where you can test your aim.

National Defence Sports Shooting Range

It was extremely noisy though so do cover your children's ears (although for some reason, Baby Boy was never affected by loud noises).

In the middle of nowhere, we were brought to a hut where a woman was making rice paper for the famous rice paper spring rolls. I'm not sure how it is relevant to Cu Chi Tunnels though (haha).

A real woman making rice paper

Finally, we got to experience a little bit of what it was like to literally move about underground. You'll have to crawl on your knees in order to go from one place to another.

Going down into the tunnels
(Mum and Baby Boy didn't go of course)
Walking down the steps.. 
It's pretty deep and can be quite claustrophobic so don't do it if you are scared
(One woman in our tour group chickened out when she realised how tiny the tunnels were!)
Finally out of the darkness and into the light!
(ok it was fairly lighted for tourists but it was usually pitch darkness for the Vietcom)

I really cannot imagine travelling in the tunnels much less live, eat and even give birth there (apparently there were women who actually gave birth in the tunnel!).

Walking down the trails
Stop for a short break of tapioca and tea

Despite the heat, thankfully Baby Boy was really well-behaved! All of us slept all the way back to our hotel!

When we returned to our hotel room, we joined thousands of Singaporeans in watching the funeral service of Singapore’s founding prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (there was Channel News Asia on TV).

Current prime minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong's eulogy

So thankful for technology. We can be emotionally connected to home without being physically present =)

After our Prime Minister's eulogy, we headed out to nearby Pho 2000 for lunch.

Pho 2000
Fried spring rolls and fresh vegetables to go with the pho
Fried noodles with potatoes and super soft beef
(beef was really tender!)
A bowl of delicious beef pho
(FYI the black and red sauces, seen at the bottom right of the photo, are meant to be added directly into the soup for added flavour!)

After lunch we headed for massages at the KL Spa located at Level M of our hotel, even though the sister wanted something cheaper. Having had so many massages in Batam, Bangkok and Phuket, I knew from experience that hotel massages were always the best. Dirt cheap anything is usually bad news.

KL Spa
Left: Lockers to put our valuables
Right: Selfie of us in our robes

It was just the sister and I as my mum had to take care of Baby Boy, who was taking his nap (thankfully!). We chose the Swedish massages and boy, it was a great! It was not too hard or soft, just perfect and extremely relaxing. So glad that we managed to get our massages as planned =)

We were still full from our late lunch so we decided to get desserts instead of a full dinner. Fanny Ice Cream had great reviews online and was located nearby (cab fare was only S$0.70) so it was the cafe of choice.

Fanny Ice Cream Café
Ice cream counter
The wide variety of flavours *yum*
This is made to look just like a trishaw! Super cute!
(Tasted ordinary though)

We took a cab back to our hotel and decided to take a photo of Ben Thanh Market brightly lit at night.

Ben Thanh Market at night (very pretty!)
(Baby Boy was busy looking at all the flashing lights)
The full building of our hotel at night 

It was a good end to a long day!

Continue to >> Ho Chi Minh City Day 4: My Reflections
<< Back to Ho Chi Minh City Day 2: Mekong River Tour


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