Part 3...final photos of Cu Chi Tunnel and more amazing Vietnam photos...


Our current private vacation home in Rawai, Phuket, Thailand.
Over these past few days since our arrival, I've since discovered that rest seems to be the best treatment to improve my condition.  This doesn't mean lying in bed immobile.  But it does mean two things; one, not a lot of walking and two, not bending at the waist over short countertops and sinks. 

We've yet to use the pool with rain these past few days but will soon.   Interior photos will follow over the next few days.
As a result, there's been no point in sightseeing or even taking a walk in the neighborhood. As yet, we haven't taken any photos in Phuket or, in the house. We'll make every effort to take photos soon. 
We'd love to be able to dine outdoors but the mozzies are fierce at dusk.
Unpacking in a less tidy manner than usual, the house in now a little cluttered with our stuff since I can't bend over to organize and it doesn't make sense for Tom to move everything to enable me to take the photos.  

Examples of clothing worn by the Viet Cong.
As a result, today we've added a few photos of the property from the listing as shown and we'll add more as we go along.  In several days, we'll be getting out to take photos of the area and a few of exquisite beaches in this area.  Phuket is known for its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters with hundreds of smaller islands.


Map of the vast coverage of the Cu Chi Tunnel.  In the basket in front of the map is a hand tool used to dig the miles of tunnels.
Actually, we're enjoying it here considering our circumstances.  We've figured out which fans to use to keep us comfortable in the rooms where we don't use the air con.  Plus, having screens has made a huge difference in keeping us from feeling closed in.

Booby trap. Scary.
With two English speaking news channels we're able to remain up-to-date on US and world affairs and with a flat screen TV we can plug in the HDMI cable to watch a movie or favorite TV show at night after dinner, not unlike evening activities of many citizens throughout the world.

Tom tasted a ration used by the Viet Cong made of coconut, seeds and sugar, compressed into a crispy stick.  He said it was surprisingly palatable.
Sure, I'm chomping at the bit to get out but having angst or frustration over our current circumstances would only add stress.  As always, we're making the best of our situation, smiling and laughing throughout the day in our usual playful lighthearted manner. 

The vent for the underground kitchen within the tunnel emitting smoke a distance from the location of the kitchen to prevent enemy attack.
We have no doubt that within a month, I'll be fully recovered as it improves a little each day, especially now with this new less active plan.  Tom helps me with chopping, dicing and cooking along with all household tasks.

This was actually a live person in a slightly below ground bunker making uniforms and other gear used in the tourist center which also served as an example of how clothing and gear was made during the war.
We'd hope to process the Indonesian passport while here sending our passport to the US by registered mail for processing and return.  It was a flippant thought.  There's no way we're willing to be a foreign country without our passports in our possession, even if only for a week.  If we had an emergency and had to leave suddenly, we'd be in big trouble.

At first glance we wondered why these tired were cut into piece.  Kong explained how the old tires were used to make sandals for the Viet Cong.  See photo below.
Instead, once in Bali after the 24th day, again we'll do the three day Lovina run (two hours of driving each way, each day) to the immigration office.  There's simply no other option than this bothersome task other than to leave the country and re-enter.  That would require airfare for two and a round trip of the four or five hour harrowing drive to Denpasar and back. The Lovina option is the more logical decision.

These are the sandals that were made from old tires worn by the Viet Cong.



Underground area for making bombs and booby traps.
With hundreds of photos we've yet to share from Vietnam, our photos and stories continue.  I deliberated over posting three days of photos from Cu Chi Tunnel but based on the huge number of hits we've had, one more day of the remaining photos may be of interest to some readers. 

Kong illustrated a booby traps that targeted a soldier opening a door in two ways.  Horrible.
Tomorrow, we'll continue with all new Vietnam photos, many locations we visited but have yet to describe.  We look forward to seeing you visit us here again.

More items used in booby traps, made on site by the Viet Cong.
Have a healthful and meaningful day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2015:
The Australian Brushturkey, also called the Scrub Turkey or Bush Turkey freely roamed the Cairns Botanical Garden which we visited one year ago today. These turkeys are not closely related to American turkeys.  Click here for more details.  For more of our photos from the botanical garden tour, please click here.


Part 2...Most awe inspiring tour yet in Southeast Asia...Cu Chi Tunnel...Tom's brave although short exposure to the tunnels...


Tom is sitting at the table in a meeting room bunker with several mannequins and two other passengers standing behind him.
As mentioned in a prior post we're continuing to include photos and stories (when applicable) from our cruise/tour to Vietnam.  Earlier we'd posted photos from Hanoi, Vietnam and a few areas in Cambodia.

Two Russian MIGs which were used by the North Vietnam Air Force.
The bulk of the photos we have yet to share are from Vietnam during the roughly 11 days we spent in the exotic country.  We both agreed we could hardly jump to Phuket, Thailand now leaving this important information behind.

US Huey helicopter.
As for Phuket, thus far we're becoming adapted to yet another house in a foreign land.  Nuances such as finding outlets that work for our adapters, location of light switches which is very different from country to country (in other words, walk into a room and there's no light switch nearby upon entering) figuring out TV systems and remotes, turning on the oven (never a simple turn of a dial or two) is all a part of the process.


Rocket launchers on helicopters.
This house has eight doors we need to lock at night.  Much to our delight and surprise there are screens on the six sliding doors, causing free air to flow through the house each day. 


One can only imagine how dangerous it was flying these helicopters during the war.
Each area of the house has an air con unit but in an effort to be mindful of power usage, so far we've only used the one in the bedroom at night along with the overhead fan.  Its hot and humid here, so much so that in our old lives in the US we'd have had whole house air con on day and night. 

US artillery pieces and two jeeps.
Now we sweat it out in 85% to 90% humidity which is uncomfortable at any higher temps.  With a floor fan that doesn't quite reach us (due to lack of outlets), with an overhead fan in a vaulted ceiling, the breeze is minimal. 

Viet Cong hammock with tarp.
Overall, we're managing fine.  Last night we made our first meal in months, roasted chicken parts, green beans and salad with cheese plate for dessert.  We made enough chicken for two nights.  All we'll need to prepare for tonight is the salad and green beans. 

US  rocket launchers and cluster bombs.
Tom will assist me in the chopping and dicing.  Bending over the short countertops in brutal at this point but is often an issue when in most countries the population is much shorter than us and countertops are made to accommodate their stature, not ours.

Above ground table and benches for dining or meeting.
The house is lovely, well maintained with nary a worn or old amenity.  There's no dishwasher, clothes dryer, large pans or mixing bowls but we found a two liter pitcher for our iced tea and there's an electric drip coffee pot. 

Horrifying bamboo spikes in ground booby traps. 
There was no ground coffee at the market (only instant which we don't like) with only ground espresso.  Each day we're testing using different amounts to correct the flavor to our taste.

Another view of booby trap.
Included in the rent is a housecleaner every Wednesday and Saturday.  We passed on yesterday's cleaning since we'd arrived the prior night and didn't need it.  We'll keep it tidy in the interim, as we always do.

Surgery bunker sign.  Can we even imagine how dangerous surgery was in this location?
Today, its raining which is expected to continue through the day.  We've yet to use the pool.  There are no steps leading into the water, only a ladder at the deep end.  I can't imagine how I can manage the ladder at this point, fearful of twisting or turning the wrong way.  We'll see how it goes.

Viet Cong surgery bunker.
We'd considered renting a car but with my need to rest, a driver will be most logical over these remaining 39 days.  We can go shopping each week at a reasonable cost for the taxi and he'll wait while we shop.

Notice the sweat on Tom's shirt.  He was soaked after crawling through the narrow tunnels.  This larger opening was a welcome relief.  Some of the tunnels and openings were enlarged for the benefit of tourists.
Dining out will come once I'm feeling up to it.  In the interim, there are numerous "takeaway" delivery services that have roasted chickens and salads that may work for us a few times a week.
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Now, we continue with our tour of the Cu Chi Tunnel after Part 1 included photos of Tom tackling a few of the narrowest portions of the tunnel, entering at one narrow point and exiting 10 to 30 meters later at another opening.
 
If you missed that prior post, please click here.

Entrance to a narrow tunnel which was also enlarged.
The bus ride to the location was about an hour outside of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) requiring we backtrack to return to Saigon later in the day for the two night hotel stay at another Sofitel Hotel, the least favorite of the three Sofitel Hotels included in the cruise tour. 

The trip from the ship to include the tour of the Cu Chi Tunnel, a stop for lunch and the return drive extended over an eight hour period with about five hours riding in the bus.  It was a long hot day but we were excited to visit the tunnel which we entered in the Ben Dinh area.

Tom took this photo while climbing out of a narrow tunnel by turning around after he'd already crawled through this spot.
With the tunnel extending as follows:

"The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam,[3] and turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. The Ben Duoc site contains part of the original tunnel system, while the Ben Dinh site, closer to Saigon, has tunnel reconstructions and some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists. In both sites low-power lights have been installed in the tunnels to make traveling through them easier, and both sites have displays of the different types of booby traps that were used. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten."

Included today are some of the best remaining photos we'd taken during the tour of the tunnel.  Please check back tomorrow for the balance of the photos.

We'll look forward to seeing you then!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2015:
 
Once inside the long narrow Mangrove Boardwalk in Cairns, Australia we walked deeper and deeper into the marsh never encountering other visitors.  For more details, please click here.
 



When we arrived at the airport in Bangkok...Final cruise expenses at end of post...More cruise/tour photos...

Tom pointed out this jumble of power lines at an intersection in Saigon.
Yesterday morning, we left the hotel in Saigon at 6:45 for the 30 minute drive to the airport amid rush hour traffic. The previous evening we had our final meal together as a group at a local restaurant after which we hugged goodbye to the many new friends we'd made on the Viking Mekong River Cruise.


 Vietnam is communist society resulting in the government owning all land regardless of its location.  As a result, most structures are narrow such as this property.
Most of all, it was hard to say goodbye to Kong.  He far exceeded any of our expectations as the finest tour manager we've worked with since beginning our travels so long ago. 

Based on our late departing flight out of Saigon after a mass of confusion at the overly busy and somewhat disorganized airport, it was unlikely we'd arrive in Phuket at a decent time to be up to be able to post.  As a result, our last post was short.

Kong pointed out the number of motorbikes in the roundabout.  There are over 6 motorbikes in Saigon (Ho Cho Ming City) for a population of 10 million.
At the airport in Bangkok Tom found an ATM getting enough Thai Baht to last a week.  For BHT $10,000, the exchange rate is US $286.  We stopped at McDonald's for a quick bite to eat figuring it could be late until we have a meal. I had a boring meat-less salad without dressing and Tom had a burger and fries.

Another view of the roundabout.  These photos were taken during a quiet time of the day compared to busier rush hour.
On the way to the villa we made a stop at a market in the village.  We were both exhausted from the prior poor night's sleep and the long trip, making finding items on our list difficult if not impossible.  

Without a single English speaking person to be found in the market we encountered a kindly young employee with a translation app on his phone with little success in the translation making sense to him.

One business after another in tight spaces.
As it turned out the largest market in the area has no beef for sale.  For protein, they carry fresh chicken, pork and fish sitting atop big chilled tables.  We usually have beef a few meals a week so we'll have to come up with another plan for those meals.  Nor did we find any roasted chickens.

Many females wear masks and are fully covered.  One would think this was to prevent illness when in act Vietnamese women vehemently avoid darkening skin from the sun.  By their standards, the whiter the skin, the better, according to Kong.
We never had dinner last night. We were so tired, food was the last thing on our minds.  By 8:30 pm, we hunkered down in the air conditioned bedroom on the comfy bed determined to stay awake until 10 pm. 

Refreshed and renewed this morning, we unpacked what we'd use here as we became familiar with our new house in Rawai, Phuket, a cozy little town which appears to be a mix of the old and new. 

Temples are interspersed among more modern areas.
Soon, we'll get out to see what's around us. Unfortunately, I still need time to heal my injury with a little less activity.  With all the strenuous tours during the cruise, I never really had time to rest which seems to be the most helpful at this point. 

Amid the historical buildings are skyscrapers such as this newer building.
Yesterday, after the busy travel day at two airports with tons of walking I almost reached 10,000 steps on my FitBit which was way too much.  Today, will be a relaxing day other than preparing our first meal since April 14th. Tom literally waits on me, helping with everything I need.

The house?  Its a lovely as we'd anticipated.  Please free to check out the online listing by clicking here which has some excellent photos without the clutter of our stuff scattered around the house.

Many shops include products appealing to tourists.  Many travel to Vietnam from all over the world to shop.
We've yet to take our first Phuket photo.  With the tinted windows on the van on the drive from the airport to the villa, we had no opportunity to take photos.  Nor did we feel up to walking right now.  In the near future we'll get out to visit points of interest and to share many new photos with our readers.

At an intersection.
For now, as mentioned in a prior post, with hundreds of photos remaining from the cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam, we'll continue to include photos we hope you'll find interesting.

These huge clocks could appeal to tourist shoppers.

Here are the expenses from the Viking Mekong cruise/tour:
Expense US Dollar Vietnamese Dong
Cruise fare  $          6,597.00  $  147,068,781.00
Airfare --Singapore to Hanoi  $              830.00  $    18,503,424.00
Hotel in Hanoi  $           2,029.70  $    45,248,674.00
Taxi   $                 98.00  $       2,184,742.00
Laundry  $               140.00  $       3,121,059.00
Wifi   $                  -    $                 -  
Groceries  $                  -    $                 -                        
Dining Out  $                12.00  $           267,519.00
Clothing  $                22.00  $           490,452.00
Tips  $              725.00  $      16,162,629.00
Total  $        10,453.70  $    233,047,280.00
   
Avg Daily Cost-17 days  $              614.88  $       13,708,664.00

Tomorrow, we continue with Part 2, Cu Chi Tunnel with many more fascinating and informative photos of this historical site.  Now that we're settled we'll be posting consistently around the same time each day. 


Kong explained that locals have tougher stomachs to tolerate street food while tourists often become ill.
We'd like to thank all of our loyal worldwide readers for "hanging in there" with us during periods of no Wi-Fi and during my continuing mention of my current condition.  We appreciate each and every one of you, no matter where you may be.

Have a fabulous day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2015:

One year ago, in Cairns, Australia we had no trouble finding a shopping mall with only a few turns required off the main highway into town.  For more details, please click here.
 

We made it to Phuket, Thailand 12 hours after we left the hotel in Saigon... Final expenses for cruise tomorrow...

Sorry loyal readers, but I'm just too exhausted to make my brain work well enough to post.

Tomorrow morning, once we're awake with coffee in hand, we'll be excited to share many more details of our time in Southeast Asia with all of you.

If you haven't seen our post from Tom's brave efforts at the Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam, please click here for some amazing photos.

Thanks for your patience!  See you later on!

Part 1...Most awe inspiring tour yet in Southeast Asia...Cu Chi Tunnel...Tom's brave although short exposure to the tunnels...


Its hard to believe that Tom managed to climb out of tiny opening at Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam.  I was scared he'd be stuck after all the carbs he ate on the two week cruise.
Yesterday was a long day with many hours spent riding on the air conditioned bus that even had a weak Wi-Fi signal from time to time.  Sitting or walking for extended periods is not easy for me but with a few stops on the way to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), I managed fine.


The sign at the entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnel.
Actually, the distance from the ship to Saigon is only about 2 1/2 hours drive.  However, with the planned stop at Cu Chi Tunnels we ended up going far out of the way beyond Saigon and back again to our hotel, yet another Sofitel Hotel arriving by 4 pm which accounted for the extra time.


Rules for visiting the Tunnel in both Vietnamese and English at the entrance to the dense jungle.
Tom and I always sit in the bus's last few rows, each taking two seats across the aisle from one another allowing for more squirming about (in my case) and more leg room especially with our bulky carryon bags which we keep with us.

The luggage for the 54 passengers went ahead to Saigon on a truck with our three bags awaiting us in our hotel room when we arrived.  This particular Sofitel in Saigon is newer and less appealing than the past two, especially compared to our new favorite Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, which was superb.


All of these tunnel photos were taken by Tom as he crawled through the narrow spaces on his hands and knees to exit on the other side, quite a distance away from the entrances.
Those of us who are old enough to recall the constant news reports during the Vietnam War certainly remember the commonly mentioned Cu Chi Tunnel.  But young and caught up in our own lives at the time, disheartened by the loss of life, we may not have focused much attention to such sites as used by the "gorillas/Viet Cong" during the war.


Occasionally, certain areas were lighted as shown in this taller section.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are described as from this site:

The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.

Life in the tunnels

American soldiers used the term "Black Echo" to describe the conditions within the tunnels. For the Viet Cong, life in the tunnels was difficult. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Most of the time, soldiers would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops, or engage the enemy in battle.


This guide, a former Viet Cong, who was 10 years old during the war, showed us how entrances to the tunnel was camouflaged by leaves atop a small wood door such as this.  Tom actually went down this small opening.
Sometimes, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time. Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels, especially malaria, which was the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds. A captured Viet Cong report suggests that at any given time half of a PLAF unit had malaria and that “one-hundred percent had intestinal parasites of significance"
The tunnels of Củ Chi did not go unnoticed by U.S. officials. They recognized the advantages that the Viet Cong held with the tunnels, and accordingly launched several major campaigns to search out and destroy the tunnel system. Among the most important of these were Operation Crimp and Operation Cedar Falls.

Operation Crimp began on January 7, 1966, with Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers dropping 30-ton loads of high explosive onto the region of Củ Chi, effectively turning the once lush jungle into a pockmarked moonscape. Eight thousand troops from the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment combed the region looking for any clues of PLAF activity.


Its amazing a human could fit down this tiny hole especially Tom who's considerably larger than the Vietnamese people.
The operation did not bring about the desired success; for instance, on occasions when troops found a tunnel, they would often underestimate its size. Rarely would anyone be sent in to search the tunnels, as it was so hazardous. The tunnels were often rigged with explosive booby traps or punji stick pits. The two main responses in dealing with a tunnel opening were to flush the entrance with gas, water or hot tar to force the Viet Cong soldiers into the open, or to toss a few grenades down the hole and “crimp” off the opening. This approach proved ineffective due to the design of the tunnels and the strategic use of trap doors and air filtration systems.

However, an Australian specialist engineering troop, 3 Field Troop, under the command of Captain Sandy MacGregor did venture into the tunnels which they searched exhaustively for four days, finding ammunition, radio equipment, medical supplies and food as well as signs of considerable Viet Cong presence. One of their number, Corporal Bob Bowtell died when he became trapped in a tunnel that turned out to be a dead end. However the Australians pressed on and revealed, for the first time, the immense military significance of the tunnels. At an International Press Conference in Saigon shortly after Operation Crimp, MacGregor referred to his men as Tunnel Ferrets. An American journalist, having never heard of ferrets, used the term Tunnel Rats and it stuck. Following his troop's discoveries in Cu Chi, Sandy MacGregor was awarded a Military Cross.


I sighed in relief when I saw his white head pop up but worried he'd be unable to get out.  The guide told him to extend both arms above his head first which would stretch him to more easily squeeze out of the tiny opening.  This is not for the faint of heart or anyone claustrophobic!  I was impressed by his obvious lack of fear. 
From its mistakes, and the Australians' discoveries, U.S. command realized that they needed a new way to approach the dilemma of the tunnels. A general order was issued by General Williamson, the Allied Forces Commander in South Vietnam, to all Allied forces that tunnels had to be properly searched whenever they were discovered. They began training an elite group of volunteers in the art of tunnel warfare, armed only with a gun, a knife, a flashlight and a piece of string.

These specialists, commonly known as “tunnel rats”, would enter a tunnel by themselves and travel inch-by-inch cautiously looking ahead for booby traps or cornered PLAF. There was no real doctrine for this approach and despite some very hard work in some sectors of the Army and MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) to provide some sort of training and resources, this was primarily a new approach that the units trained, equipped and planned for themselves.

Despite this revamped effort at fighting the enemy on its own terms, U.S. operations remained insufficient at eliminating the tunnels completely. In 1967, General William Westmoreland tried launching a larger assault on Củ Chi and the Iron Triangle. Called Operation Cedar Falls, it was similar to the previous Operation Crimp, however on a larger scale with 30,000 troops instead of the 8,000.

On January 18, tunnel rats from the 1st BN 5th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division uncovered the Viet Cong district headquarters of Củ Chi, containing half a million documents concerning all types of military strategy. Among the documents were maps of U.S. bases, detailed accounts of PLAF movement from Cambodia into Vietnam, lists of political sympathizers, and even plans for a failed assassination attempt on Robert McNamara.
 
By 1969, B-52s were freed from bombing North Vietnam and started "carpet bombing" Củ Chi and the rest of the Iron Triangle. Ultimately it proved successful. Towards the end of the war, the tunnels wat this ere so heavily bombed that some portions actually caved in and other sections were exposed. But by that time, they had succeeded in protecting the local North Vietnamese units and letting them "survive to fight another day".

Throughout the course of the war, the tunnels in and around Củ Chi proved to be a source of frustration for the U.S. military in Saigon. The Viet Cong had been so well entrenched in the area by 1965 that they were in the unique position of locally being able to control where and when battles would take place. By helping to covertly move supplies and house troops, the tunnels of Củ Chi allowed North Vietnamese fighters in their area of South Vietnam to survive, help prolong the war and increase American costs and casualties until their eventual withdrawal in 1972, and the final defeat of South Vietnam in 1975."

To continue reading from this site, please click this link.


Today, he's a little stiff and sore having used muscles he hadn't used in years but suffered no ill effects.  The passengers in our group was cheering him as he entered and exited.
Cu Chi Tunnels have become a major tourist destination for travelers from many parts of the world as described here:

The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam,[3] and turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system.

The Ben Duoc site contains part of the original tunnel system, while the Ben Dinh site, closer to Saigon, has tunnel reconstructions and some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists. In both sites low-power lights have been installed in the tunnels to make traveling through them easier, and both sites have displays of the different types of booby traps that were used. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten."

To find ourselves at this profound historic location was awe inspiring.  With a fairly long distance to walk through the jungle, all of us were well coated in insect repellent and insect repellent clothing which only made us realize the struggle of the soldiers during this horrific period in time.

How they suffered in the humid heat with insect bites, contracting malaria, dengue fever and other diseases wrought in the toxic environment due to a lack of with a lack of decent food, clean water and appropriate medical care. 

We could only imagine how hard life was for the soldiers who spent months in the tunnel during the war.
Being in this place in the jungle made us all the more aware of the strife they endured while continuing to fight, day after day, month after month, and year after year.

As Kong toured us through the thick brush on the lengthy uneven dirt path over roots, rocks and vegetation, we finally arrived at the entrances to some of the tunnels.

Tom emerging from a larger opening after entering this section of tunnel from a small opening.  His clothes were wet with sweat and covered in dirt.
When Kong asked for volunteers for the tightest of tunnels, Tom jumped in saying he would try it, even with the weight he'd gained over this past two weeks on the cruise/tour.  The Vietnamese people are tiny and easily fit through the narrow miles and miles of tunnels.

When we saw the size of many of the narrow entrances to the tunnel Tom had decided to tackle I cringed hoping he wouldn't get stuck.  Our group watched in anticipation of him making his way from the tight entrances and out the equally tight exits, crouched down through the narrow underground passageways to surface some distance away.

He had to literally crawl up these steps when there was no headroom to do otherwise.
Many others in our group partook in the wider tunnels, although one petite woman in our group followed Tom's example in one area a short time later.  When he'd finally managed to maneuver the tight spaces to enter and subsequently exit the tiny tunnel, he was soaked in sweat and covered in dirt and mud.

Everyone cheered his bravery while he dismissed his attempt at trying to understand how it was for the soldiers in this difficult place for extended periods of time.  I was proud of him for his bravely but fully understood, amid his joking and dismissal of his experience as "nothing" compared to the real lives of the soldiers.


The guide was as limber as a monkey making his way through the tunnel.  No doubt, given more time and a few less doughnuts, Tom would have become equally adept.
B
ack on the bus we went to lunch at an exquisite restaurant, dining outdoors under cover during a massive downpour. Tom dined in his dirty sweat soaked clothes never giving it a thought.

It was quite a day to say the least and by the time we checked in to the hotel, a shower was imminent for him with a soak in a hot tub for me following.  We dressed for dinner, heading down to a fabulous buffet dinner in the hotel's restaurant with mostly Vietnamese foods.  More on that later.


Our guide at one of the larger tunnel entrance.
This afternoon, after we're done here, Kong will arrange a taxi to take us to the "shoe district" where Tom will purchase a new pair of tennis shoes.  He's worn the same pair since we left the US 45 months ago and its definitely time for something new when they're literally falling apart.  We'll report back on the results of this shopping trip later.


This is the type of tool used to make the tunnel by hand.  The tunnel is 250 km, 155 miles long weaving through the jungle floor over a massive area.
Today,
I'm wearing a shirt with a hole in the sleeve, less obvious when I roll up the sleeves.  Gee...traveling the world has certainly changed us in so many ways, most of which we've found to be liberating.

Early tomorrow morning, we'll leave the hotel for the airport in Saigon known as the Ho Chi Minh City Airport (SGN) Vietnam where at 9:45 am we'll fly to Bangkok with a few hour layover and then on to Phuket.  A driver will meet us at the airport for the hour long drive to the villa where we'll stop for some groceries along the way. 


Tom explained how he crawled into one of these air vents, large enough in which to stand on the inside for both ventilation and firing weapons.
Most likely we won't arrive at the villa until 6 pm.  Once we're settled we'll prepare a short post with our final expenses for the Viking Mekong River Cruise including the extra three nights we spent in Hanoi. 

In a few days we'll continue with Parts 2 and 3 of the Cu Chi Tunnels since this tour is deserving that more of these important photos be shared with our worldwide readers.  Back to you soon!

Have a joyful day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2015:
Its amazing how quickly Tom's hair grows as he prepared for another haircut in Trinity Beach, Australia.  For more photos please click here.