On the strength of the interest of the boys in the Cu Chi tunnels, we decided on Saigon for our bonus travel courtesy of our award tickets from accumulated mileage.
And I thought two hours would be enough. I was wrong. We were there almost 3 hours and I still think we could’ve stayed longer. As it is the tour was kind of rushed. In this instance, we joined a tour to better understand and learn about the Vietnam War and the famous tunnels.
I never thought the tunnel networks, and we only saw a sample, would be so interesting.
War is of course never welcome and brings untold miseries and sufferings. But it has happened and we learned a lot on the tactics the Vietcongs used to fight the war. Their torture traps and hideaways made for a very interesting tour.
We chose to go down the shortest tunnel to see how it felt living underneath the ground. And to think they had widened the entrance to accommodate Westerners, still it was very oppressive down there. The air was dank and humid. I was crouching while moving forward, sometimes squatting – like a duck walk. It would probably have been better if we crawled but I didn’t want to dirty my knees. That was only 20 meters but was I glad when we got to the steps going up. The fresh air was delicious. And the sunshine … good.
Afterwards we went to the War Museum, which was of course pro-Vietcong. The bias is very obvious but as a good tourist, I kept quiet and just rushed through some of the photos that were very one sided. The uniforms, guns, bomb fragments and other memorabilia made for an educational hour. That is the most I could stand reading about the war. Afterwards the boys posed with the tanks, aircrafts and other war machines outside while I browsed their mini bookstore. I wanted to buy a book to better understand what happened to the country. I didn’t want a foreigner’s point of view. I didn’t want a military point of view. One book caught my eye. I don’t know why. I bought it and when the guide saw the book I bought, she told me that it was one of the more popular books in the country. It is taken from a diary of a doctor who was killed during the war. Her diaries were found on her person.
I read it when I got home. Very poignant. She doesn’t speak ill of both sides. She mostly talks about the people she treats. She also talks about the hardships of being a doctor in the jungle. All in all, a riveting book but sad. I was tired after reading the book. It’s one of those that makes you think and sigh.
And not to forget that one of the reasons we chose Saigon is for the food. It did not disappoint. Well the fancy restaurant disappointed. It was the street foods that captivated me. I don’t know how many germs we ingested by eating food that was cooked on the sidewalk and prepared by the vendors with nary a glove in sight. But hey, it tasted good. And our tummies were ok the whole trip.
I liked Saigon. Someday, I will return.