For our first excursion in our new country, we decided to get the most obvious out of the way. Vietnam? War! Vietnam War? Tiny people in black pajamas in tunnels! And the most popular place to see tiny people in black pajamas in tunnels is Cu Chi, near HCMC.
After the ticket booth (2o,ooo dong for Vietnamese, 80,000 per imperialist running dog) was a propaganda video being shown in six different huts (and several languages) simultaneously. We dropped in to the English version as a robot-voiced woman was telling us about a sweet-looking 16-year-old schoolgirl, who “although meek and mild, won the title of ‘American Killer Hero’ in her first battle”.
Some of the guides really were wearing the pajamas, but slightly disappointingly ours had gone for the bush ranger look:
The kitsch factor was then turned up several notches: a shooting range (hit four targets and get a free officer’s hat!); buy your own Cu Chi brand rice wine; and, the piece de resistance, car tyre baby booties:
The tunnels are quite intense. The upper sections are relatively spacious and well-lit:
After that, the tunnels became narrower and lower, and the lights became fewer; at various points side-tunnels branched off upwards for those who had had enough. Afraid of darkess and narrow place? Well, after five minutes underground I was dripping with sweat, had a slightly elevated heart-rate, and had a new appreciation of the baby-faced killer hero.