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See the city by cyclo taxis

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A welcoming smile

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Slipping into the Cu Chi Tunnels

HO CHI MINH CITY (Saigon)    My cyclo driver suggested I go to the War Crimes Museum.   It wasn't set up as well as Auschwitz, but the photos were just as graphic.  It was so horrible to see.  In fact, I didn't see it all.  I went to the gift shops instead -- which had the nicest selections I'd seen anywhere in the country.  I bought teak boxes.

The Jade Pagoda was so colorful -- from what I could see.  I'd never been to a pagoda so filled with burning incense.  It hung from the ceiling in coils.  It was in clusters in the hands of the devout.  It burned in urns and in my eyes.  Funny thing, I actually began to like the smell for the first time. 

CU CHI TUNNELS, near Saigon      Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you need a guide to go to the tunnels.  You pay for one upon arrival anyway.  I never knew his name but he was a soldier and his father had served as a Viet Cong soldier during the war.   His English was good and he gave quite an interesting tour.  Still, I thought how the world had changed when the son of a Viet Cong soldier gave tours to Americans.

The tour started with a hidden trap door.  The Vietnamese people were small enough to slide through it but Americans had difficulty.   Much to my amazement, I slid through it into the tunnel.  Then, we walked through a "mine field" to get to the tunnels.  We would have all been killed.  We set off so many explosions.  I would have been so busy looking for trip wires that anyone could have just shot me.  I would not have survived that war.

When we actually got into the tunnels, I had to remind myself that they were enlarged for tours.  It was cramped.  Most places allowed walking on all fours at best.  Some places were more cramped.  There were three levels of tunnels and we went down to a second level.  It was hot.  I was drenched in sweat.  Anyone who built those 200 kilometers of tunnels, lived in them for months, and crawled through them was certainly determined enough to win the war.

Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.