The Cu Chi tunnels
One other place I visited from Ho Chi Minh City was the Cu Chi Tunnels. This is a big museum complex that gives you knowledge and experience of the life in the tunnels of the Viet Con during the Vietnam war. Now I am totally against war or violence of any kind and would consider myself a pacifist so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this experience. On the whole I found it to be informative and interesting as a historical account of that time. I didn’t really enjoy looking at all the weaponry particularly but hearing about how the people survived in the tunnels practically was interesting. I was probably most interested by the experience of walking/crawling through part of a tunnel (they are so small!) and watching a lady make steamed rice pancakes and dry them in the sun. These pancakes were part of the staple diet of the community in the tunnels as much as they are now right across Asia.
I was however drawn to the marks and patina on some of the weapons. Taken totally out of context there were some beautiful things going on across the surface of some of them. The impressionist painter Camille Pissarro once said ‘Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing’ I think this is a good quality and I’m sticking with it! Anyway see if you agree with me?
One other thing that was very interesting and showed some of the ingenuity of the Viet Con was how they dealt with cooking underground and the subsequent smoke that it made. The smoke was funnelled through a series of chambers underground to change its quality so when it reached the final chamber and spewed out above ground it gave the impression of morning mist so that it didn’t give away anyones location. For this to work cooking only happened early in the morning and enough would be prepared for the whole day. A little bit of genius! Below is an example of the holes that would release the smoke. They would be covered with leaves to act as a camouflage.
One thing I took away from this experience is the determination of the human spirit to survive and find really very clever ways to do it.