Tales from Saigon Pt. 4

Boarded the tour bus so early in the morning to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tour bus was at full capacity and off we were to the tunnels. The Cu Chi Tunnel is a vast network of underground tunnels and bunkers for guerrilla troops during the Vietnam War. We stopped once along the way for a rest stop as well as to tour a local arts factory. The art is made of intricately designed inlays of duck egg shells, egg shell powder and mother-of-pearl on dark wood. The art is truly a sight to behold, as well as the manufacturing process itself. The craftpeople are actually handicapped victims of the war due to Agent Orange chemical attacks. The art sort of gives them a sense of purpose, inclusivity as well as a source of income. The gallery was filled with beautiful plaques, murals and other miscellaneous furniture with the same inlay methods, but they were also fucking expensive. But hey, tedious workmanship and beautiful products come at a hefty price.

We arrived at the tunnels, set rather in the middle of nowhere, and our tour guide Mr Liem arranged for our tickets for us. The tour inclusive of entry tickets cost 250,000VND. (approx RM50) We got to see the bomb craters and hiding spots of the VC (VietCom guerrillas) and how they defended themselves against enemies with modern weaponry. The tunnels span across a total length of 250 kilometres consisting of narrow crawlspaces and dark canals. I got to crawl inside one of the tunnels, for roughly two minutes, which was basically hell because it was so dark and cramp and I had to squat in an uncomfortable position to make my way forward. Exiting exhausted, I couldn’t fathom how people could stay underground for days and months and years. The Vietnamese were really resilient people during the war. I also got to fire an M16 (which was really expensive tbh), nothing new to me there because I’ve shot more bullets with the same rifle during my time in national service. All in all, the tour was insightful and terrifying at the same time. Gruesome spiked booby traps, smoking the enemies in the tunnels, bombs and gunshot sounds, all added up to a simulated tour of the war. The tunnels are dug very narrow as the Americans are big and could not fit in most of them.

After watching a film about the war and how the villagers in the Cu Chi area survived and killed off their invaders, we left for Saigon again. Hungry and tired, it was time for lunch.

Finally, I got to eat at a buffet restaurant. Ruben and I ate at Seoul Garden together whilst our parents ate somewhere else. Buffets are deemed a waste of food considering their appetites. It seems that age has whetted our appetites too. The food at Seoul Garden in Vincom Centre was good. Much much better than the shitty meat they serve in Seoul Garden Malaysia, though it is pricier than back home. The meal was good as we stuffed ourselves with quality grilled meats and other food.

More shopping at Saigon Square and the street selling sportswear. I am rather bummed that I could not find decent phone cases here. But then again, these kind of things they sell way overpriced. Roughly RM35 for an ordinary but nice case for the S7 Edge is just too much when I can get some for 3 times less online. Ventured into a little street photography, which yielded some good shots but I think would be better with a wider/shorter lens.

Made our way back to the hotel. Tired bodies and exhausted minds, we had to stop by Highlands Coffee again for a refreshment and some rest. Lime ice blended drink was good and the coffee was strong as usual. Transferred and reviewed my photographs as we sat at a cosy corner for roughly an hour.

I went for a short swim at the rooftop pool of our hotel. the view was quite nice and the atmosphere quiet. There is a poolside bar but the drinks they serve there are twice the price of that I found in De Salita.

Early turn in for the night, it seems. We may go out for some food but probably staying in. Flying back to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow afternoon, wondering how to fit our stuff back into our bags. All in all, this has been quite a good trip and I am very much looking forward to the next trip wherever it may be (fingers crossed: Bangkok, Thailand).


Author: Bryan Yap

Food enthusiast, amateur photographer & aspiring revolutionary

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