Cu Chi

and Cao Đài



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Cu Chi region lies to the north west of Ho Chi Minh City, and is most famous for the network of tunnels which run beneath it, used by the Viet Cong during the American Vietnam war. Many hundreds of miles of tunnels were carved out by the VC for use during that war, and they were an instrumental strategy in determining the final result.

We visited one of a number of "touristified" sections of tunnel, where you could have the chance to crawl along some of the passageways yourself, if you can brave the snakes, bats and insects which live down there now!


VC

Here is an example of what the VC wore for battle; their weapons and training were very basic compared to that of the Americans.


A guide demonstrates entry to the tunnels by a standard hatch - hidden in the forest floor and too small for a GI to enter, but perfect for the lighter VC. I had a shot at getting in, and got stuck at my chest.

Squeeeeeeeeeze

Batty

One of the passageways. They were about as wide as my shoulders and perhaps three feet high, it was possible to squat and shuffle along but easier just to crawl. It was even hotter than the 30 celsius outside down there, and when you have a tourist in front of you and another behind, you'd better not be claustrophobic, entombed in the rock. Spot the bat.


The tunnels open out now and again into store rooms, accommodation or military strategy rooms like this one. It was nice to have some room to move! I was told that I crawled along about sixty metres of tunnel, mostly shallow level (three metres deep). They go down below ten metres.

Controller

Ouch

After squeezing along the tunnels, we were then shown some of the traps the VC would set for the Americans - this stiff wire frame would be set in a cube-shaped pit and covered with leaves, when a GI stepped on it the diagonal spikes would guide his foot to the single vertical spike which would go straight through it. Terrifying in its simplicity.


The Cao Dai temple is near to Cu Chi, and both are doable in a day trip from the city. Cao Dai is a religion, and this temple - Tay Ninh - is its seat.

Tay Ninh

Ornate

The interior of the temple is all very colourful, in contrast to the worshippers who mostly dress in white. During a ceremony tourists are permitted to wander the upper gallery.


Some of the more important ones get to wear orange or blue...

At prayer

The All-Seeing I

In Cao Dai, God is represented by the Divine Eye, watching over the ceremony.


Some of the female worshippers - men and women are segregated.

Don't cry for me...

Lions

A very colourful image of some traditional lion statues outside the temple.


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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2006