Flavours of Saigon – Cu Chi Tunnel Half Day TripDecember 18, 2012 | 1,855 views
Continued from Serenity @ Day Trip Around Dalat …
Breakfast by the streets of Saigon – A random stall about 300 metres from our hotel (Saigon Mini 6) that serves wanton noodle soup and chicken porridge with you tiao (yau char kwai/Chinese crullers). Oh yeah, and also durians if you fancy them for breakfast!
Let’s do a really mechanical post for today. Woke up an hour late (!) and rushed off to work in record time. Started the day on adrenaline rush with nary a moment to breathe in between, right until dinner hours. So allow me to let off some steam (or whatever that’s left of it) before a long week back in IPOH! (Get them napkins off the shelf and ready for the onslaught of reviews?)
Cu Chi Tunnel – Climbing down a hole smaller than the average burly guy’s size (don’t get stuck and Instagrammed, please), trekking on level grounds and bearing witness to how cruel contraptions worked back in the warring days ….
On a more sombre note, let’s see what we did at Cu Chi (pronounced ‘koo-chee’); a bitter battleground for many years during the Vietnam war.
Started off with a video debriefing session; a summarized run-through of the entire Cu Chi history and mapped out perimeters of the battleground. Needless to say, the thought of grim murders and death hangs around the air in an unnerving manner ….
Departing back from Dalat to Saigon on the 8 hours ride on bus (VND210,000/RM30/USD10 per person), we arrived rather early at our hotel; Saigon Mini 6 where we stayed on the first night before we departed for Dalat.
The Cu Chi Tunnel half day trip cost us VND 126,000 / RM18.50 / USD6 per pax. We booked the trip through our hotel; liaising with Delta Adventure Tours. Alternately, you can do a full day Cu Chi Tunnel – Cao Dai Temple trip for VND 168,000 / RM25 / USD8.
We departed from our hotel around 8am, with a busload of tourists from Western countries. There was a Singaporean couple together with us, and we were the only Asians for the trip. The bus ride took about 2 hours, if I remember correctly, with a stop over at a handicraft centre run by the handicapped; displaying intricate artworks for purchasing.
*No meal was provided throughout the journey, and the bus made NO stopover even for breakfast, tea or lunch. So be warned and have your meal before taking the ride!
You can fire rifles, guns and what-nots at a fee (for 10 bullets, around RM30 / USD10 if my memory serves me right). Around this place, you can buy light bites and drinks as well. Throughout the tour around Cu Chi, we were introduced to how the Viet Cong guerillas utilized the intricate maze of tunnel spanning an impressive 120km (!) to hide from the American forces. (read the Cu Chi Tunnel story from Wikipedia)
Feel free to crawl into one; but if you’re claustrophobic (fear of tight spaces), then think twice. The part of the tunnel opened for navigation is around 100 metres in length. With optional ‘surrender points’ every 20 metres. Piece of cake? Far from it.
The first 20 metres was okay, but we had to almost crawl on all fours. The damp, stagnant air notwithstanding, you cannot even see the
butt in front of your face! Very dark, warm and uncomfortable. The last stretch was worse; you literally had to be down on your elbows and knees!
The tour around Cu Chi took us a few hours, and we departed from the vicinity around 1.30pm. Educational? Yes. But only if you’re a history buff or fascinated by the thought of seeing military booby traps and weapons, or chance of firing a rifle.There’s also another option to return to Saigon; by boat which supposedly will shave an hour from the journey. Drawback? The price. Additional VND273,000 / RM40 / USD13 per pax. Our guided tour was led by a Vietnamese guy with a very American accent; to a point of not being understood well at times.
Anyway, you should come here at least ONCE if you’re in Ho Chi Minh city.
Go to www.deltaadventuretours.com to know more about different packages.
Goi Cuon – Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls; prepared on the spot.
Traditional Vietnamese street foods – We sampled three items from this stall – A rice vermicelli tossed with strips of omelette, Chinese mustard and chopped red chillies and peanut, a Coconut cake served with an orange-coloured sweet toppings and the rice cakes with minced meat in a tangy sauce.
Capping off the half day trip with simple street foods from the roadside leading to our hotel, we stopped over briefly for a bite. The fresh Vietnamese spring rolls served with a dipping sauce laced with vinegar and chili named Goi Cuon, and the array of rice cakes and coconut cakes served with savoury and sweet toppings from an adjacent stall satisfied our appetite at very minimal cost. The light bites cost us no more than VND80,000 / RM12 / USD4 for 4 pax!
Next chapter? The Mekong Delta tour.
**More from Flavours of Saigon 2012