I can finally say that I conquered my fear of the Cu Chi Tunnels. The last time I was in Vietnam, I went to the tunnels and did not make it more than two steps into the first tunnel before I ran backwards screaming because a bat flew into my face. Today, though, I made it through two tunnels (that had bats in them, too!) and I may have screamed while in them, but I still made it through anyways. I called it quits at the second tunnel, though, because each tunnel became progressively longer, which I don’t think I could’ve handled.
The Cu Chi Tunnel System is an elaborate underground system that the Viet Cong used during the Vietnam War to hide from the US soldiers and to attack them using guerrilla warfare. Some may think that the tunnels are just lanes that soldiers used to switch locations, but in reality, the system had rooms underground that the Viet Cong could use to go unnoticed, such as an infirmary, bedrooms, and even a kitchen. Today, the tunnels have been widened for tourists (although they still seemed too small for comfort), but the tunnels are mostly intact and replicate the ones from the war. What’s really interesting about the tunnels is that they managed to create these super small entrances to the tunnels so that they can be completely covered by the jungle leaves and camouflaged from the view of the US soldiers.
The saying “history is written by the victors” could not be truer in the case of Vietnam. At the end of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese were victorious in their quest to unite all of Vietnam under one communist government. Now, that same communist government has created all of these war sites and has illustrated the Americans as horrible people who did not want their country to be unified. In reality, the US just wanted to stop the spread of communism. Throughout my time in Vietnam so far, though, it is clear that the younger generation does not believe that Americans are horrible people in any way. In fact, the young generation is eager to meet any Americans they can and to develop relationships with them. This generational change will be critical in the further development of Vietnam as the US is a crucial partner to have and you have to be willing to form a relationship with America in order to gain access to their lucrative market.