October 12, 2013

My Vietnam Experience Part 1 : Cu Chi Tunnel!

It the midst of my final year hassle and keeping up with my YouTube & blog, I totally forgot about the post I promised about my Vietnam trip. No, scratch that. I actually didn’t forget, I just didn’t think any of you guys would want to read about the trip anymore since it was like so long ago. But as it turns out, some of you requested me to post about the trip despite the delay.

Why, yes. Of course I’ll be glad to share with you my traveling stories! I love sharing my stories with you guys!

Okay, as you might already know from reading my previous Vietnam post, I was in Vietnam for two weeks for the purpose of my Integrated Project. Basically an Integrated Project is a part of my course requirements before we can graduate. During the final year of our degree, everyone in my class would have to agree on one country that we want to go to observe and learn about the country’s real estates. It’s really interesting and a very good opportunity to learn a lot of things we never knew about a certain country. At the early stage of our planning, my class agreed on New Zealand as our preferred country. My friends and I were stoked! Imagine 2 weeks in that cold weather, with greens and sheep and mountains. Everything was done, the proposal, the budget, and the choice of university in Auckland. However, the plan went down the drain as we had some difficulties along the way. So, long story short, we all settled down for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as advised by some of our lecturers. My friends and I were devastated. How can we go from New Zealand to Vietnam? No offense, but isn’t that called downgrading? I admit we were so judgmental and disapproved Vietnam completely. However, there was nothing we can do to change it since the decision depends on the lecturers and the other students.

I have to admit, when the day came, the only thing I was excited about was “travelling with my friends!”.

To avoid super long post, I’ll just say my oh my, what was I thinking when I rejected the idea of going to Vietnam? Vietnam is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Yes, it may not be the first world country and it might not have Winter season or whatever but who cares? I had the greatest time of my life and it wasn’t only because I was "traveling with my friends". Sure, the place was dirty and I could smell pee literally everywhere (even on the public bus!) but everything else was just guh-reat! The shopping, the places we visited and the people. Oh, the people… Vietnamese are just a delightful bunch, if I must say so myself! Not even a single person has treated us badly. From the people in restaurants to students in the University, from the housekeepers at our hotel to the women who did our mani pedi. Everyone was super nice to us!

Okay, so the first we arrived, it was the weekend. We didn’t have classes and decided we should use that time to explore around town before our classes start. Our classes were held at the collaborated school, University of Finance-Marketing, Vietnam from 0800hours to 1700hours every weekday. So you can guess how packed our schedule was the whole two weeks. We only have the weekends to explore and go to places.

If I were to tell you every single place we went and every single thing we did, it would be 5 days worth of writing on this blog. So what I’m going to do is to highlight the places and the things we did in Vietnam that I think is a great experience for me.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know I went to this place called Cu Chi Tunnel. I posted a photo when I was there in the tunnel. Basically Cu Chi tunnel is a place full with tunnels so deep and long where Vietnamese dug to hide and to attack their enemies during the war with America. I’ve heard so much about this famous tunnel, so it’ll be crazy to pass on the chance of going there! It was on a Saturday, my girlfriends and I, we wanted to go to Cu Chi ourselves. We asked our Vietnamese friends from our class to give us the directions on which buses we should take and all. But one of the Vietnamese was so sweet to accompany us! Minh (our Vietnamese friend) even skipped his test that day to bring us to Cu Chi. We felt guilty and insisted on going by ourselves but he said, “It would be really hard for you to go by yourselves since most Vietnamese don’t understand English and plus, you are all girls. It’s dangerous”. We couldn’t argue with that, so we agreed on him bringing us three girls to Cu Chi which took us two bus rides, almost 1km walk and a little over 3 hours to finally reach the place from District 1, where our hotel was located at.

By the time we reached Cu Chi Tunnel entrance, I was sweating like I’ve never produced sweat before in my life. The weather is like Malaysia, hot and humid. Thank God I wore my white t-shirt and the lightest pair of pants I’ve ever worn in my whole 22 years of life which I bought a couple of days before there in Vietnam and my flip flops. I looked wretched but… who cares in a weather like that?

I was thanking God the whole time for making me decide to wear that particular outfit that day. We all ended up going in the tunnels and we had to crawl, climb and jump in the tunnel. Let’s just say my supposedly white t-shirt turned to the color of soil when we were done with all the tunnels.


The bombs they used during the war

I was never the type who likes hiking, climbing or any outdoor activities close to that. The only outdoor activities I do are sports like netball or futsal or jogging in front of my house. And that is about it. Nothing else. So when we had to go through the forest, climbed, went down the tunnels and crawled, my face automatically changed into a frown. “Say what now? “, my mind had said. But to avoid making a scene and not wanting the other tourists have an impression of me being a total diva, I went with it. 

Yes, I did go down the tunnels. 
Yes, I did sweat a whole lot the entire time.
 Yes, my hands and body were dirty from crawling in the tunnels. 
And yes, I encountered bats (lots of them), I screamed, I ran but I survived.

But that isn’t the best part.
The best part is that after all that, I find myself smiling and wanting more.
Who would have guessed? Ayeen likes to be outdoors! Woooohoo, give me a round of applause everyone, please and thank you.

I actually was sad to leave when we have gone through all the tunnels. I had such a great time and it really opened my eyes about how Vietnamese worked so hard to survive the war. It was a true eye opener of how luxurious and how easy our lives are right now. It really made me appreciate my life a little bit more after seeing the Vietnamese (men, women and even children!) stood up for their country, their families and themselves. Although their country might not be the best but the fact that they survived all that… they totally earned my respect.

 Okay here comes the pictures!

A documentary we watched before the tour guide brought us around the tunnel

 This is called the "air hole" where the only source of air they had in the tunnel came from this.. 
umm..gross looking thing.

 Hand made traps were the only things Vietnamese can afford to have aside from bombs

 Minh operating a "patient" in the so called clinic in the tunnel

The dining room in the tunnel

 We made some friends too!

Okay so that is the first part of my Vietnam trip! I was actually going to cramp everything in a post but looking at this one right here, I don’t think so. I’m going to break it into a couple (or more. We’ll see.
 posts so you guys wouldn’t have to read one super long post and yawn a thousand times. Hehe.

If you are interested to read more about my experience in Vietnam and see the places I went, stay tuned for the next part!

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