Our Sunday field trip was to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong in the Cu Chi District outside of the city. The tunnels were an important part the guerilla warfare campaign during the Vietnam War.
We traveled two hours outside of the city to Cu Chi, and explored the jungle where we saw how the people of the village lived in homes constructed of mud and bamboo. Some of the homes had secret entrances to the tunnels, which was cool. We also saw some of the traps used, such a false floor that fell through to bamboo spikes.
After the village tour, we watched a film about Vietnamese war heroes. During the film, the heroes were heralded for all the “American Devils” they killed. It was kind of jarring to hear that term, as this is a perspective I’m not used to hearing in America. However it was also clear that this was government propaganda. While history is written by the victors, it doesn’t necessarily determine how the future will react, as most of the Vietnamese people I have met are very open and forgiving to Americans and primarily blame the government. As both governments have normalized relations and globalization has helped to spread positive aspects of American culture, the negative sentiment expressed by this propaganda video ceases to be as prevalent.
We then proceeded to entire the actual tunnels used. The tunnels contained larger meeting rooms, a kitchen, and a medic area for the soldiers to hide underground and retreat undetected.They were so small and cramped, we had to squat walk throughout. Also received a surprise when a bat flew out in front of me! I can’t even imagine regularly having to move through these tunnels, nonetheless live in them.
We then left the Cu Chi Tunnels and visited the cemetery. The cemetery was beautiful, with seemingly endless rows of tombstones. We performed a ceremony burning incense to honor the fallen. It was very moving to be apart of.
Today was our first day touching the history of the Vietnam War, and seeing how development and globalization can impact the perception of history.