February 24, 2017
OMG you should have seen the look on the night manager’s face when he saw the bikes appear. It was priceless, he had no idea that they were still in the hotel. We had bought the bags down first and lined them up against the wall, then Ralf appeared with my bike first and then his bike. Ralf and I managed to keep a straight face and loaded the bikes in the lobby. While I was loading my bike he came over and was about to move Ralf’s bike. I told him in my Mum’s “Don’t you dare do that” voice; “Please do not touch that bike, we will be loaded and leaving in five minutes.” He looked at his boss who was in the office area and said “My boss doesn’t want you to make a mark on the wall”. I almost laughed at that point but I smiled and pointed out the already dirty wall and the holes that were already there. We will be gone in five minutes! As soon as we get our passports and pay. He let go of Ralf’s bike and we were gone five minutes later.
Today we headed out of Ho Chi Minh and went to the Cu Chi tunnels. The traffic was the usual chaotic craziness that is Vietnam, it didn’t quieten down until we were almost 35 kms out of Ho Chi Minh. It was a hot day and I was drinking a lot of water. We came to a traffic light and I spotted the coconuts, it tasted soooo good.
The Cu Chi tunnels are similar to the Vin Moc tunnels, except these were dug and made primarily for the Vietcon soldiers. We parked our bikes and paid 8,000 VND for the security guard to look after them and headed into the well designed area that is Cu Chi tunnels. We had a guide who was very good and had a sense of humor. The area has been recreated to show how the Vietcon were able to fight the Americans. We were reminded that this whole area was devoid of trees during the war, none of the “huts” would have been above ground, everything was hidden.
We were showed the various booby traps that were used in the area, against the American soldiers to inflict the most damage without killing them. A psychological part of the warfare.
There were small access holes that were designed to allow the Vietnamese to access their tunnels. These tunnels range in distance about 250 kms from this area almost to Ho Chi Minh.
We were allowed to go into a tunnel which has been made bigger for the tourists to get through. I had to bend over going through it, the original tunnels were very low and narrow. This area is definitely designed for the tourists and attracts about 3,000 tourists per day. There is also a shooting range where you can pay to shoot a variety of military equipment.
It was a good trip. There are another set of tunnels north of here which may not be quite as commercial.
We are staying at a small guesthouse (Tanjas Resort) 3 kms north of the tunnels. It is owned by a German fella and his Vietnamese wife, both of them speak English and German. We were welcomed with a beer and we sat and chatted to Werner for a while. His wife made us some lunch. Although there were places to eat in the small town, he offered us a second breakfast – eggs, bacon, sausage and bread – it was lovely. We were talking about the tunnels to Werner and he mentioned that when he was making his cellar larger he connected with one of the tunnels near his house. The tunnel system is everywhere.
I am feeling rather tired today, after lunch we walked up to the main town and bought some water. Ralf then went out with Werner for a quick view of the Saigon River and a tour of the Town.
We asked Werner what they were drying on the road – medicine for traditional Asian medicine. He snorted “very healthy when they dry it on the road that the dog has pissed on”! he added.
Apparently, there is a new river crossing planned at the end of this road. This will bring tourists on a new road directly from Ho Chi Minh to this bridge and down the road 3 kms to the tunnels!! One of the tourists in our group was complaining that the bus ride was horrendous, it took almost 2.5 hours – we cycled it in the same amount of time! I guess they do need a new road to get here!
We had an excellent dinner in the guesthouse of pork chop and fries with a beer to wash it down. The name of the guesthouse implies something much fancier Tanjas “Resort”. It is a simple, clean guesthouse with an excellent host who provides good food and good conversation.
Tomorrow we will be leaving Vietnam and heading into Cambodia. The distance is about 50 kms, we have heard different reports about crossing the border and how long it might take. We have decided on a short day of riding, just in case we get held up at the border.