History Musings in Ho Chi Minh

December 22, 2014

Heeyyy!!! Now, I have time to share my Indochina adventures to all of you. It was one awesome trip. A bit cheap too considering that I spent almost three weeks on three countries! But let's talk about the expenses later on, okay? :P

I booked an Indochina trip a year ago on one of Cebu Pacific's Piso Fare. It was supposed to be a solo trip, but decided to invite my friends to join me. Eyann, who works in Thailand, joined me on this trip. Meann decided to join us on the Vietnam leg too. I did quite a lot of research and made the itinerary for the whole trip. 

Meann and I met Eyann in the Ho Chi Minh airport, Eyann flew from Thailand. I arranged a hostel pick up which cost US $15 for the three of us. We arrived past midnight of October 16th. We stayed at Bich Duyen Hotel in the backpackers' area, which I found from my blog hopping. We had a pretty cheap but comfortable stay. I will try to write a hostel review, alright? :P 

We did the Cao Dai Temple + Cu Chi Tunnel on our first day. So I emailed the hostel prior to the trip, and told them to arrange the tour for us, pretty easy right? We paid US $10 per pax. 

We boarded the bus for our group tour, and the tour facilitator gave us a little background on the tour. 
Let's get started!
On our way to the temple, we visited the Handicapped Handicrafts, which was not part of the itinerary. Nonetheless, the works are impressive, especially seeing them creating a work of art from scratch. I was mostly impressed because they are using egg shells on the paintings. Despite the disability, they are producing wonderful works of art, hats off to them.
works of art
We left the shop, and headed to the Cao Dai Temple, or the Holy See. According to our tour guide, we could observe the different religions in the temple by looking at the color of the robes that they wear. I had to Google to get the correct colors and association, but yellow for Buddhism, blue for Taoism, and red for Confucianism. We were allowed to watch the ceremonies and take photos. But outside of the temple, we are not allowed to cross certain areas, or the demarcation lines. 
Cao Dai Temple
Inside the temple, we watched the ongoing ceremony. They allow people to take photos and observe, but make sure to be always respectful. 
during the ceremony
We left the temple, but roam around the vicinity. It was a huge complex.
Few minutes more of roaming around, we left the place with the group. We headed at the Cu Chi Tunnel, which was my primary reason on being in Vietnam. We paid VND 90,000 or roughly around US $6. 

In the Cu Chi complex, the tour guide showed various booby traps. These were created during the war.
booby trap
more booby traps
I jumped on one of the trap doors, just for the heck of it. I was not sure if I could fit but considering that the other guys were able to fit, I'd probably would. But I was scared that I won't be able to get out of it. 
the trap door
I was one of the first and the few ones that tried this. I wasn't wrong, I had a hard time getting out due to my weak upper body. The good samaritans in the group helped me.
I fit!
now you see me
and then you don't!
The Cu Chi Tunnel is a network of underground tunnels used during the war. Looking at the tunnel, I could not imagine up until this point how the Vietnamese people survived. I salute them.

We were not sure on whether we are claustrophobic but we entered the tunnels. These were modified a bit to accommodate visitors; the Vietnamese have small frames. The tunnels are uncomfortably narrow and dark. But there are exits along the way, just in case you want to end the tunnel journey.
here we go!
almost done!
We were counting the exits, and pushing ourselves to finish this until the end. It was getting narrower as we were nearing the end. I wasn't on my knees on the first part, but I did kneel to fit by the end. It was quite an experience.
We survived!
This was an adventure-filled day. We were able to learn a bit of the rich history of Vietnam. With the experience on the Cu Chi Tunnel, I could not help but admire their ingenuity and bravery during the war. Crawling inside the tunnel has been difficult, but imagine these Vietnamese people living in the underground tunnels during the war. Respect.

*Photo Credits: Tsina and Meann

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