Day 7: 5.12.19
Today we visited the Cu Chi Tunnel System, which were used by Viet Cong soldiers for protection. The tunnels were a tight fit; to get in, you had to put your hands up, which wasn’t a problem because that was how you put the cover back to camoflauge the entrance. For me it took a lot of trust, because even though I had seen my friends go in and come out before I attempted the feat, I couldn’t see where I was supposed to put my feet, so I had to feel around and trust that I would accomplish a stable landing on the ground and not just tumble into the tunnel. Once you were in the tunnel, you had to crouch to move along and it was dimly lit, so if a person was in front of you blocking the next lantern, it was pitch black. That was the most uncomfortable part for me because I wasn’t able to see if there were any creepy crawlies coming my way. It was a unique experience for sure and despite exploring the different parts of the tunnel system (a medical room, a military weapon storage room, a room with a table for eating, and a well room), I can’t imagine what it was like to live in them. Each time, I was ready to get out of them only a few seconds after I had entered. As far as the logistics of the tunnels, I found the structural integrity of the system to be impressive for something that had been created using only a small bent shovel and a woven basket to move dirt.
The way the Vietnam War is portrayed here is drastically different than the way it’s portrayed in America. During the documentary we watched, the narrator revealed that the soldier that killed tens of Americans was considered a hero, and that’s not something they teach us in history class in the U.S. It was hard to hear, especially since I come from a military family, but it was also incredibley eye-opening realizing that neither side was “good” and that the U.S. caused more harm to the Vietnamese than they did to us, considering that there are still people today that have a lower quality of life because the Agent Orange the U.S. utilized caused genetic health problems that can’t be reversed.
According to Mr. Hoopingarner at the U.S. Consolate in Ho Chi Minh, 93% of the population has a favorable opinion of the U.S. who was Vietnam’s enemy a mere 50 years ago, a blink of an eye in comparison to Vietnam’s history that extends back thousands of years, but the country continues to have an increasingly positive view of the U.S. This fact is only going to help Vietnam’s development as it attracts more and more foreign investors, whether from the U.S. or U.S. allies. Perhaps we should all take a page out of Vietnam’s book and learn to set aside the past and look towards the future.
P.S. We ate lunch by the river, and you already know what I’m going to say… it was DELICIOUS.