Sunday, July 13, 2008
War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi Tunnels
I am a small guy. I'm not afraid to admit it and anyone who has seen our wedding pictures would certainly agree. And in addition to all those great games of hide and go seek I used to win as a kid, it finally came in handy today. Holly and I visited the Cu Chi Tunnels, an area 70 km north of Saigon that was a major staging ground for attacks into South Vietnam. It is a 200 km network of tunnels that served as homes, factories and fighting grounds for the Vietnamese through their wars with the French and the Americans. There was even a nursery where babies were born, all 10 to 30 meters underground. I used to think that most Vietnamese were just small. But now I know that we are small AND crazy.
I was the first to volunteer in the one authentic tunnel that tourists are allowed to use. Let's just say that there wasn't a lot of room between me and the bats. To give you a sense, I'm 5 foot 4, and I was on my hands and knees with not much room to spare. Reminded me of my first apartment in Athens. In contrast, Holly had to bail after 15 meters in the tunnel that was widened and lit for tourists.
We also saw exactly what a B-52 shell can do the ground that it hits. Big....damn....crater. Our tour guide also showed us the ingeniously devilish booby traps made by the Viet Cong. Very sharp objects. I also got to shoot an AK-47 for 1 US dollar a round. Let's just say that we left the tunnels with the knowledge that humans can be especially inventive when thinking about ways to kill one another.
Exhibit Two in this case: War Remnants Museum. Blatant Anti-American propaganda mixed in with genuine, sincere, and grotesque demonstrations of how bad war really is for everyone involved. Through a partnership with the Commonwealth of Kentucky (not kidding), pictures of Agent Orange and napalm victims were juxtaposed with images of dying and wounded American and Vietnamese GI's, to be gazed on by silent witnesses 40 years removed.
Take away message: War is bad. Fried chicken is good.