Flashback: Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. Monday, 17 January 2005

I brought along my bag with me, because later on I would need my waterbottle and torch, which would be used inside the tunnel. When I had got out of the bus, the sunlight began to scorch my face and my neck, so I decided to wear my hat, but as the tour guide, Mr. Tran, guided my class 3.7 in entering the woods, I did not wear it anymore. We passed by three guerilla mannequins on display, and I was excited to see that they looked quite realistic.

Mr. Tran gave us a short explanation about the tunnels. There were basically used by the Vietnamese guerillas as a shelter from the American armed forces during the war. They provided amenities for their daily needs: rooms to sleep in (I do not use the term ‘bedroom’, later I’ll tell the reason), kitchens, living rooms, and even recreational rooms!

We then proceeded to the first tunnel. The entrance was not too big, and later on I learned that it had been widened so that the visitors could get in. When I got inside, I had to use my torch because in some parts it was quite dark, and I had to cover my nose due to the dust. I had to crouch for 20 metres until I saw a shaft of light and felt happy to get outside again.

Before getting into the second one, Mr Tran showed us the ventilation of the tunnel. It was camouflaged exactly like an anthill, and had holes which had been pierced by bamboo poles, that was why the tunnels were musty.

Mr Tran showed us the smallest tunnel I had ever known. The entrance was as big as half of my schooldesk, or even smaller than that.

The tunnel guide entered first, followed by some of the average-sized students. At first, no student thought that they would get in, but when one of my classmates, Woon Hann, managed to get in, the others just followed. I was hesitant whether I could get in. My main concern was not that I would not fit in, because my size would certainly fit in. Then I decided to do it, but what a pity I did not get the chance, because the teachers called us to go on to the next tunnel.

The third tunnel, which resembled the first one, was used as a room to sleep in (I would not call it a bedroom, because I think it is an uncomfortable place to be a bedroom). Not much can be seen in this tunnel, as it only had two twin beds, a bench, and a cupboard.

Well, the fourth, which was the last one, was the most exciting part of the day. Inside was the meeting room, and it was arranged exactly the same as it had been left. There was some kind of a conference table, with some mannequins of the guerillas.

I was startled when I saw them, because they looked different from the first three I had seen outside. The ones in the tunnel looked very realistic. Mr Tran then told us that we had three choices for the distance to the exit. They were 5 metres, 50 metres, and 120 metres. I quickly chose the first, as I feel breathless in that musty room and my life seemed to regain its vigour when I finally breathed the fresh air again.

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