Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City Day 2

First thing Monday morning as the world went to work we went out of HCMC to tour the Củ Chi tunnels, which is a fascinating web of tiny underground tunnels that the South Vietnamese lived/hid in during the "American war".

The tour began with a short video, or blatant propaganda as I like to call it. The American soldiers were referred to, I kid you not, as "a bunch of evil devils" who indiscriminately shot at women and children. It was so over the top it would have been entertaining if it wasn't so hate filled.

Check out how small this entry hole to one of the tunnels:

There's no possible way we could've fit in that hole made for Vietnamese bodies so we didn't even try. Luckily for those crazy enough to crawl through the tunnels there were larger entrance holes available.

After "the worst experience of my life", crawling to the center of a pyramid in Egypt, I have learned a very valuable lesson about putting myself into uncomfortable underground, dark, airless situations. That lesson being: Don't do it. So I stayed above ground while Marv ventured down into the tunnels. He said it was barely wide enough to fit his hips, and he saw a spider (in the guides flashlight beam) so he jumped ship at the first available exit. I remain 100% satisfied with my decision to stay the hell away from that claustrophbic terror.

I was pretty excited to see one of these, casually left behind by the 'murikans:

Then I did something most people (thankfully) never, ever get to do. I shot an AK-47!

How awesome do I look with a gun?! It was really an awesome experience, even though I only got 4 bullets. They cost $1.50 each and it was totally worth it. Merv got in 7 shots:

He shot this gun before when he was in the military but it was still fun for him. Again, totally worth it.

Our Vietnamese tour guide was a translator for the American troops during the war. He worked side by side with the Americans for years, and really seems to love America. I asked him if he's ever visited before, which he has not, because it's so expensive. He said he'd love to get in touch with the American soldiers he knew during the war. He even remembered their names, unit numbers and APO address during the war, but "isn't good with the internet" and doesn't know how to get in touch with them.

Information being so available in 21st century, and my dad being a superstar historical researcher, I realized I can't in good conscience not help. So I got his business card (he uses email for work) and am going to put my dad on the case tracking down these Vietnam vets. I really, really hope we (ahem, my pa) can find some of these guys. It will buy me a lifetime of good karma, and I can't wait.

After getting back into HCMC we went to the famous Pho 2000 restaurant, famous because their pho soup is awesome and famous because a former president you may have heard of, Bill Clinton, has dined here before.

I can't for the life of me figure out why a country as hot as Vietnam loves hot soup so much, but the soup is indeed delicious. I just wish I could eat it on a cold Norwegian night, instead of a suffocatingly humid Vietnamese day.

Instead of checking out of our hotel room at 8:30 a.m. before our tunnel tour we decided to spend $13 (divided by 5 people) for a day room until 6 p.m. so we had someplace to shower and relax until we left on our overnight train out of HCMC.

Again, it was so worth the money, to be able to have an air conditioned place we could hang out and regroup after our hot and humid outdoor tour of the Củ Chi tunnels. We would need every minute of relaxation we could get before our first experience on the night train to come!

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