Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Fired An AK 47!

A real AK 47 rifle at the Cu Chi (pronounced Gu Chi more than' Cu chi') tunnels in Vietnam! On our second day in Vietnam, after our detour to the Tay Ninh Holy See temple to witness the Cao Dai ceremony, we went to the Cu Chi tunnels, which were built during the Vietnam War. Like it's name, it is really an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located at the Cu Chi district in Ho Chi Minh City.  So really, what's so special about a series of connecting underground tunnels?

During the Vietnam war, these tunnels, built cleverly by the Viet Cong (a South Vietnamese communist controlled common front) guerrillas were used by them as hiding spots during combat as well as serving as communication and supply routes, food, hospital and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrillas fighters. The tunnel system were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces and helped achieve ultimate military success. (source from Wikipedia)

Life in the tunnels were definitely tough back then. Can you imagine having to live most of your time underground with limited air, water and food source, having poisonous animals like snakes and centipedes around and in an environment with poor sanitation and hygiene? Not forgetting, you would  only be able to come out mostly at night to scavenge for supplies, tend to crops or fight enemies. But marvelously enough, the Viet Cong's managed to navigate their way through the dark and narrow complex tunnels and even successfully created a whole new living environment underground, with section of the tunnels divided off as schools, kitchens, bedrooms, living halls etc despite rampant sickness that kills most of the people at that time, second to battle wounds. The tunnels were often rigged with well camouflaged explosive booby traps and punji stake pits with effective trap doors and air filtration system so it was extremely hazardous to the enemies trying to search for the tunnels and rendering the American technology ineffective in trying to uncover them.

Me with my AK 47 rifle at the shooting range
Learning how to handle the rifle
And bang! Despite the head piece that supposedly protects our ears, the sound of the firing rifle was deafening! Seriously for the next few minutes after I fired all my bullets, all I heard was just the 'bang bang bang' and nothing else. On top of that, you really got to stabilized that rifle well if not the rebound force would jolt you backwards
Other than the AK 47, visitors can select from a variety of other Vietnam war era guns to fire at the shooting range. Of course, all these are charge separately from the entrance fee and for like 5 or 10 bullets for the AK 47 per person, we paid like RM 50

There was a guide that brought us through the jungle showing us where the booby traps and punji stake pits are so we don't get ourselves injured accidentally (although these traps are now identified and the area sealed off) while narrating away the history of the Vietnam war, the role and life in the tunnels. We also got to experience the tunnels although it was just a short part of it and the particular section had been made wider and taller to accomodate Western tourists mainly. None the less, despite the renovation in making it wider and taller, the tunnel is still quite narrow to walk through and surely not favourable for those claustrophobic.
The entrance into the tunnel had been modified to be much wider than it originally was. It was raining cats and dogs that day. Thankfully, they had raincoats for sale and HT hid his entire camera bag beneath his raincoat making him looked pregnant in the picture. Haha!
Crawling into the Cu Chi tunnel
The various booby traps and punji stake pits found around the tunnel
Another booby trap with bamboo spikes
This is one of the original entrance into the tunnels. Note how small it is. I doubt even bigger Asians can fit in there
The Viet Cong guerrilla statues
They even sell the clothes that were commonly wore during the war time
These are real people making the rubber shoes (100% rubber from tyres) that were worn during the war time too
Anyone interested in rubber shoes?
The various missile sizes
At the end of our tour around the tunnel, we were served tapioca for tea break. The tapiocas were their staple food during the war time 
Although it was raining heavily that day, it was a very thrilling and deafening experience at the Cu Chi tunnels.  It wasn't too scary walking through the tunnels in groups and in the day but I can't imagine walking through them in the dark and all alone! Scary can even just thinking about it. Well, I had included a short clip of us walking through a small part of the tunnel system, so enjoy and see for yourself how dark it can get and despite it only being a short distance, I could already feel the air diminishing down in the tunnel, so really I shuddered to imagine how the Viet Cong guerrillas and their families endured those difficult and fearful times hiding in the tunnels all day long, day after day, month after month. How sad isn't that of wars; causing thousands of innocent people life difficult and fearful.

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2 fondue dips :

You can handle the recoil? LOL.
It's really strong you know.

Kelvin : Haha yeah it was really strong. After the 1st time got used to it :)