September 29, 2011 Thursday Cu Chi Tunnels
If there are 6 million motorbikes in Saigon, we saw all of them today. Motorbikes galore! But with so many, it is amazing there is so little noise. While eating breakfast in the restaurant on the 5th floor, we could see the ferries crossing the Saigon River, loaded with motorbikes – all well organized and no road rage; just a patient ‘air’ about the whole procedure.
This morning, we each boarded a Cyclops. This is a three-wheeled pushbike – in the true sense of the word. They are ‘fixed wheel’ and when the going gets tough, the ‘pusher’ gets off and pushes. You sit in a chair in the front with the rider, usually an old man, riding you through the busy traffic from behind. We visited the War Remnants Museum, the Re-unification Building, the General Post Office, and had lunch in an upstairs restaurant where President Clinton visited in 2000. The Remnants Museum was extremely revealing, especially the section showing the effects of agent-orange. Over 17 billion liters was sprayed around the country by the US Government forces affecting both the environment and population, in an endeavor to eradicate the Viet Cong.
Our visit to Cu Chi Tunnels was also very interesting. We took a guided tour through these famous tunnels used by the communist guerrillas during the ‘American’ war or occupation. The tunnel network stretches over 250km and extends to three levels underground providing a remarkable insight into the hardships, courage, determination and terror of a guerrilla war. The ‘booby’ traps were so simple but terribly effective against the enemy. Chris, who had done national service during the time of the Vietnam War, tried the shooting range; the first time he had fired a shot since 1972. Even here, at the completion of a tour, you are guided into the souvenir shop.
Our evening was very low-key with free leisure time. Some ate in an up-market restaurant at the hotel, while others ate in a snack back near the entrance.
The group is getting on very well – lots of one-liners and general hilarity. All are saying that they are enjoying every minute of the tour with many of them still mentioning that the evening cruise-meal and entertainment on Wednesday night, has been a highlight.
If this daily diary interests you enough to travel on our next group tour, click here for a full itinerary. http://gntc.com.au/group-tours/italy-and-mediterranean/
Senior’s Moment of the Day. I asked one of the group if they had tried the bidet in the room. He said, “Yes, but not on it. However the bathroom floor got flooded.”