Today we’re heading to one of the most interesting attractions in Vietnam, the Cu Chi tunnels. These tunnels played a big part in the Vietnam war and is where the Viet Cong lived and fought. The tunnel network is over 250km long and was built only under the cover of night. The tunnels are really small, this is by design to trap any larger American soldiers that decided to explore. A sitting duck for the Viet Cong. Because of the small diameter they could only use a tiny handheld hoe and wicker basket to carry away the dirt. As not to alert the enemy of where they were digging they put the dirt into all the fresh bomb craters, genius.
I was brave enough to crawl through one of the tunnels that has not been widened for tourists, luckily Dawie joined me, but we was the only two out of a group of 50 brave enough. Armed with a Go Pro and the light from our phones we set off.
Fresh air was obviously a big problem and thousands of bamboo air vents had to be inserted into the ground for ventilation but this gave the Americans a tube to place poisonous gas down straight into the tunnels below. The Viet Cong tackled this by building thousands of bogus air vents that didn’t feed the tunnels making the Americans waste most of the poison. Americans countered this by using dogs to sniff out the true vents, but the Viet Cong placed pepper and garlic around all the holes and the dogs were rendered useless.
The tunnels were built over three levels. The first level, around 3 meters deep, was where the larger rooms were for cooking, making weapons, treating the injured etc. But at only three meters if a bomb was dropped directly overhead they would not survive. They started digging deeper tunnels; two more levels were added at six meters and ten meters. These levels were just for moving around and had tiny constrictions to trap even the smallest Americans. If the bombs started falling, everyone would evacuate to the lower levels.
The Viet Cong would place horrific traps in jungle for the Americans. Check out these rotating spiked pits.
There were also much smaller ones, just big enough to get your foot or lower body trapped. One had two rotating drums with barbed spikes, some had platform and levers so once you stepped in barbed spikes come from above making it almost impossible to get out. These were not designed to kill anyone, but once someone was trapped the Viet Cong would emerge from a tunnel and finish the job. Their inventiveness didn’t stop there, they used dud B52 bombs to make a variety of mines and it was very common for the Viet Cong to pop up out of a tunnel and place a mine in the path of a tank instantly immobilising it.
It is no wonder that America lost this war but the Viet Cong also took heavy losses. Staggeringly 16,000 people were living down in these tunnels but only 6,000 survived. If you would like to know more about the Vietnam War stay tuned to the blog as I will soon be uploading a post dedicated to this tragic historic event.