On the 2nd day, we took a one-day tour to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi tunnels. On the way to Cao Dai, we stopped for a toilet break and it happened to be (Actually, I don’t think so) a workshop where the handicapped made souvenir crafts. The workmanship was delicate although we left empty-handed for Cao Dai Temple.
Cao Dai, is a unique religion that draws influence from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Catholicism. The temple, situated about a couple of hours away from District 1, is the house of various daily prayers. We arrived before noon just in time for the prayers. Our tour guide explained that most followers don a white robe while the bishops may don different coloured ones depending on their believes (Of course, it’s all black and white in the photos below).
After lunch, we were finally brought to the Cu Chi (Pronounced Gu-Chi) tunnels. The tunnels, which supposedly link various villages around Cu Chi, were an infrastructure during the Vietnam War. In order to defend themselves from superior American tanks and bombers, most of the Viet Cong guerillas built their hideouts in the tunnels and used them for ambush attacks. According to our tour guide, the tunnels today have been widen twice to accommodate tourists even so, it could barely fit a person at a time. As we find ourselves crawling and wanting for oxygen, it’s hard to imagine how people could actually live underground during war time. One of the interesting parts of the tour is the display of booby traps. These brutal traps are made from bamboo sticks with sharp ends and camouflaged in the middle of the jungle. Enemies that are less careful would find themselves into a series of spikes laid beneath them. And those who actually survive the ordeal, will have a huge souvenir to drag back to the camp.
On my first trip to Vietnam, I had the chance to visit the Reunification Palace. In the Palace, there was the infamous picture of a monk lighting himself with fire. It shows without doubt that war exposes the darkest of mankind. Although the Vietnam War is over for 40 years, much of the scars and horrors of war are well documented and preserved in these museums. It serves as a reminder why war is to be avoided at all cost.