As usual, we crawled out of bed at some ungodly hour and hopped onto a waiting car. We bid our lovely hotel and lovely Hanoi goodbye, and boarded a plane back to Ho Chi Minh City.
We checked in at our nice new hotel and had a phenomenal lunch of Vietnamese broken rice at Com Tam Cali. It literally blew me away with how delicious it was.
It was then time for our prime destination: the Cu Chi Tunnels. The ride one way was 1.5 hours by car, and out of nowhere it went from sunny and humid to intense rain. Thankfully, by the time we arrived the sky had cleared up.
We were greeted by a walkway lined up with rifles and strolled through a long sloping underground passageway. Since almost everyone except us came in a tour group, we were ushered into a hut to watch a historic documentary on the tunnels and the plight of the Vietnamese during the war.
Then, we were given special treatment with our own personal tour guide/scout. I loved this guy — he was fun, sassy and sarcastic. He showed us the various guerilla tactics and uncovered tunnel entrances, ground traps, and oxygen holes artfully concealed in termite hills. We passed by Viet Cong replicas and climbed onto an old American bomber tank. He was a pro photographer too!
Next up was the shooting range. It was go big or go home, so Vincent and I both opted to shoot AK 47s! K held down the fort with his M16. It was a huge outdoor shooting range modeled after the Viet training grounds so gunshots rang out loud and clear. Definitely one of the highlights!
After passing quite a few odd chickens and the military garment house, we descended into the Cu Chi tunnels. Boy were they tiny!!! The steep stairs gave way to a tiny entrance to a tunnel big enough to squat or crawl through. We slowly made our way through the darkness, our hands sandy and our heads wary of knocking into the tunnel ceiling.
Finally, we reached the opening and ascended up a steep ladder of stairs. The sky decided to award our glorious feat with another round of delightful rainfall.
We explored a bit more and sat down to enjoy tea and light refreshments made from tapioca root. Our guide remarked that the tunnels had already been expanded to become ‘tourist-sized’. He quipped: “Real one Viet-sized. Real tunnel. You go in, you get stuck.” Awesome guy.
Then, we enjoyed the bouncy and trafficky ride back to Ho Chi Minh City, where we decided to enjoy 2 dinners. For the rest of the night, Vincent and I went an epic shopping journey that took us around HCM and involved everything from getting ripped off by evil taxi drivers, street market bargaining and more ownage by Viet Cantos, and sampling a downright disgusting and expired coconut. Epic night.