Day 7: Underground City and Sky-scraping City

Today we visited the Cu Chi tunnels. The system the guerillas and Viet Cong used to hide and terrorize the Americans outside of Saigon. The whole thing is an engineering marvel. The soil turns out to be perfect for it. The tunnels were strong enough to withstand artillery and constant bombing. Civilians would also take shelter in them. There were infirmaries, kitchens, military strategy rooms, and bedrooms. There were entrances under the river, and they kept anonymity even from each other so when captured they would know nothing. They also directed the smoke from their kitchens into a small pipe that lead to a deep through. The trough made it so most of the smoke would just be absorbed into the ground instead of rising to the sky, so the Americans wouldn’t know where to bomb.

They portrayed the Americans in a negative light calling them the “American Devils” at one point. The short video we watched also honored some of their own soldiers as “American killer heroes.” We talked about the saying, “History is written by the winners.” I don’ necessarily believe this is true. It just seems that way because I’ve grown up in the West, and the West is generally the “winners” of history. It’s more like history is written by whoever writes it, which sounds like a silly statement, but it’s still important to understand. When hearing the news on different stations you hear vastly different stories depending on the channel because they know their audience. My main takeaway of the day, however, was the genius of some of the Vietnamese tactics. They had sandals that could be worn forwards or backwards, so footsteps would lead Americans into traps. They had the smoke disposal system. The actual amount of tunnels is incredible. The whole thing is an engineering marvel.

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My night started with a much lighter tone. I went to see a water puppet show, which while slightly creepy, was a great joy to watch. I then had my first experience with street food and Banh Mi. American sandwiches really need to step it up. After getting ice cream as well, we walked around their Times Square, which ha all the features of Times Square in New York: vendors selling plastic light up-toys and bubble guns, people in costumes that just looked slightly off, and a beautiful surrounding cityscape.

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