This week has been pretty amazing so far. On Wednesday we went to the Cu Chi tunnels and the main Cao Dai Temple here in Vietnam. The Temple was a really interesting experience because we got to see the midday worship service. See, Cao Dai’sts are sort of a hybrid of Buddhism, Catholicism, and a couple other religions. The service held included a band and a choir actually, though not in the sense that we would see in the States. The Temple itself was a hodge podge of borrowed architecture, though when I say this, I certainly do not mean that it was ugly or in bad shape. It was beautiful and the service was one that I won’t forget easily.
We then went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The people around the area are very proud of their innovation, but they do not flaunt it. The government here in Vietnam has been careful not to flaunt their victory and their military achievement because they don’t want other nations to get the idea that Vietnam is all about war. I admire them for that. I was able to crawl down into one of the tunnels that had not been modified for tourism. There were two other students that were also down there with me. It was a little scary to say the least. I am a big person and I did not fit the best in that small area. Plus there was no light, so I ended up using my cell phone to guide the way. Toward the end of that journey through, I happened upon a bat which casually fluttered by noticing my cellphone light.
The whole group had the opportunity to travel through larger tunnels, don’t get me wrong were still pretty small. The whol ordeal was quite a workout though and I can’t imagine traveling the whole span of the tunnels, all 250km.
Out of all of this I gained a new respect for not only the Vietnamese inginuity, but also the incredibly brave American soldiers who were “tunnel rats” during the war. The guts one owuld have to travel into the tunnels would be amazing. It was somewhat nerve racking just when we were in them. Think about what it would be if there were booby traps and people shooting at me.
The whole trip was a long day. Yesterday was more leisurely with class in the morning and then a walking tour in the afternoon. We walked to a bridge that was a scene in “The Quiet American.” The same bridge was not there and the Saigon River certainly does not have the same quality riverfront as the mighty Mississippi does back at school.
Today we are off to see the US consulate where in HCMC. This is the old Embassy and the place where the famous pictures were taken of the helecopters taking off when the city fell. Pretty cool considering I want to get a position with the state department working in a consulate or embassy. I hope that I can have some of my questions answered today.
So I bet you are all wondering why the title of this post is Ga Ran Kentucky? Well that is Kentucky Fried Chicken here and I had it for lunch today. It wasn’t bad actually and pretty cheap, only 46,000 dong (about 3 dollars US). They used too much mayo though.