Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam
Day 23: Crossing enemy lines and venturing the dark Cu Chi Tunnels
Back in ‘Nam . . . We decided to start our first full day in Vietnam by crossing enemy lines. Bri, Kaitlin and I (and our new, tall, Australian friend Tim) took a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels: a place of hiding, plotting and refuge for the northern Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam war against Americans. It was strange because we had learned about the Vietnam war from America’s POV in high school, but now we were seeing the other side of things.
The enemy’s side of things.
We, Americans, were now crawling through the underground tunnels that the enemy once hid in. Where they struggled to survive for months. And let me tell you something, it was a tight squeeze. It was dark and dusty and I couldn’t even stand up straight. I couldn’t imagine spending months living inside those haunted tunnels.
The most interesting facts: According to me
- Apparently the tunnels were a good source of hiding and communication partially because of their size. The Vietnamese soldiers made the tunnels big enough so they could get through, but small enough to exclude the large-framed American soldiers from being able to enter.
- Northern Vietnamese soldiers made sandals that they could wear “backwards” so that their footprints looked like they were walking in the opposite direction. This confused the American’s/enemies and led them the wrong way.
- We were told not to stray off of the tour guide path because there were still leftover active land mines hidden throughout the woods we were walking through. Scary…
- They could hide more than six Vietnamese people in one of their tiny hideout holes! I was too claustrophobic to get inside one of them by myself. I never would have survived.
Here’s a quick clip to show how small some of the hideout holes at the Cu Chi tunnels were.
After experiencing the darkness of the Cu Chi tunnels we decided to lighten things up. We ate at the best food market I’ve been to and then went back to the hostel to meet new friends and pregame for another night out.
One missed flight caused this guy to live in Vietnam
I’ve heard stories of Americans moving to other countries to teach English or work in a hostel to sustain themselves while they experience another culture long-term. However, it’s not something I had ever experienced the beginning of. At The Hideout Hostel in Saigon we met this guy named Sean.
Sean was a 20-something tourist on a two-week vacation to Vietnam. Apparently Sean went on a Tinder date and accidentally missed his flight back home to California. At this point, he said F*** it and decided to live in Saigon, Vietnam. Live. He talked with the hostel and was hired on as a staff member on the spot.
That takes a lot of balls, Sean. I’m not sure if he’s still in Saigon or if he eventually went home, but I tip my hat to you, good fellow.
Little did I know, this is a decision I would soon face myself, but that is for another story.
When the hot guy at the bar is not what you expect
After pregaming with Tim, Sean and other new friends, we went on a bar crawl with our hostel and danced our faces off. At the last bar, I found myself sitting next to Tim, engaged in deep conversation about meaningful things. During the conversation, I noticed someone walk into the bar.
In. My. Life.
I mean it. He had caramel brown skin with striking blue eyes and a smile that could melt anyone’s heart. I wish I would have taken a photo of him just to show you.
As I took notice, I mentioned it to Tim. So of course, as soon as I stepped away to the bar, Tim waltzed right up to the guy and told him exactly what I thought. He must have been interested in me too, because he patiently waited for Tim and me to finish our conversation and then he stepped in. And that’s where things went south (no pun intended).
He was a man in his mid-twenties from a small, rural town in South Africa, and this was his first time leaving his country. In his home town, they didn’t listen to any international music or watch any of the same movies that we do. He didn’t understand the references I made and he said he didn’t know how to talk to women, especially foreign, English-speaking women. They say opposites attract, but we were just too different. After the basics of “where are you from and where are you going” we weren’t left with much else to talk about. We were left sitting there in an awkward silence that I didn’t know how to fill. I would have been content with just dancing instead, but he said he didn’t know how to dance to our music.
I guess some things just aren’t meant to be. Even if that thing happens to be the most gorgeous man you’ve ever laid eyes on.
When I went to the Cu Chi tunnels, I was the first one to enter. I think they picked me because I was the largest one.
It was certainly interesting.