I never really considered my fear of incredibly small, tight spaces until I found myself three meters underground Vietnamese soil, hunched over walking like I had no spine. With only minimal light and the faint outline of the person in front of me, my experience in the Cu Chi Tunnel System was nothing short of unique. Fortunately, I survived each new tunnel with minimal issue (one slight injury: scraping my freshly sunburned back on the roof of the tunnel) especially as they got more narrow than the previous one.
My favorite part of the day included watching my classmates attempt to slide down the world’s tiniest escape hole. With their arms above their head, they would gently sink into the ground and cover up the small entrance with a piece of dark wood. Shockingly, they would come out about ten feet away through a different exit!
After thoroughly exploring the tunnel system of Cu Chi, we stopped at a small place to eat creatively titled “Restaurant”. Our meal of rice, veggies, and chicken was just enough to keep us going for the day. While seated, we were approached by an older group of Vietnamese men who (strongly) offered us traditional alcohol and tobacco. Using our better judgement, we kindly declined, but we all laugh knowing that it was one of the most hilarious moments of the trip yet.
Along the way, we visited an enormous graveyard full of older generations of Cu Chi residents. It was incredible to see just how many graves they were, all of which ranged in color, size, material, and layout. Today’s weather added an eerie element to the already mysterious graveyard.
Our last stop was a small workshop full of workers who had some disability affiliated with Agent Orange. Despite such hardships, it was absolutely amazing to see the work they were doing. The meticulous hand-crafted pieces of art, all crafted out of eggshell, pearl, or paint, were jaw-dropping to admire. I can’t even begin to imagine how much patience and self-discipline each work takes.
Today was busy…I’m excited to have a small break before dinner and relax for the remainder of the night. We’ll certainly need all the rest we can get before our two site visits tomorrow!