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    Dugong Dive, Singapore


    ‘You Know Nothing!’

    February 2nd, 2008 by mary

    The Cu Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war to hide from the American troops were 65km outside of Ho Chi Minh City. To keep us entertained on our bus out was Mr. Bean our engish speaking guide. When he was young he lived in various parts of the States eventually becoming an officer of the US Navy. When the US became engaged in the Vietnam War he was sent here to train the Charlies to fight in the foreign fields. The VC eventually captured him and sent him to prison for four years to get re-educated. Everyday he went out to the fields to pick up land mines with his hands. At the end he emerged a happy man knowing his rightful place was in Vietnam and that the US government was full of lies. I’d say the re-education worked perfectly on him. He kept telling everyone over the microphone ‘You know nothing!’, ‘You understand?’, ‘You really want to know?’

    He said the Vietnam war really started in 1858 when the French occupied the country. Then the US financially backed the francophones and when they pulled out over half a million American troops showed up in rice paddies. The VC’s guerrilla warfare kept the Americans at bay and forced them to eventually give up the campaign. From there the Vietnamese fought Cambodia, actually invading them but he left that part out. And finally it was war with the Chinese which finally ended in 1980, the official end of the Vietnam War according to him. But it was because of the false media and internet that the world thinks it ended in 1973 when the US troops left. There was a VC award called American Killer Hero. So for the entire ride out we heard his take on the war, Americans, and the Vietnamese farmer forced to become a killer. And of course he presented this as his obligation to make sure we got something out of our $4 tour. At the Cu Chi tunnels we first sat down to watch a fifteen minute communist propaganda of the Vietnam War made in 1967 with smiling gun toting VC. Needless to say it was highly anti-America. From there we were lead from one hidden entrance to another, to holes made by B-52 bombs, to booby traps, to bunkers, to a destroyed tank, and even a firing range where you can shoot a variety of war guns for only $1.3 per bullet. Sure the people actually firing the AK47s were given earmuffs but the rest of us sitting twenty feet away just had to bear the deafening noise in silence. After all that we crawl ed into the cool, but stuffy darkness of a tunnel. At first it’s high enough to walk through totally bent over but after dropping down to the second level, about 6m below the surface, crawling became the mode of transportation. The tallest spots were no more than one meter high and sixty cm wide. The lowest places were two feet high. It was pitch dark but smooth. The earth was ripe for tunneling here as clay is easy to dig and hardens with heat which meant the napalm bombs on the surface only strengthened the tunnels below. In Cu Chi the tunnels ran 258km in all and some went under US bases. Mr. Bean praised the craftiness of the VC and told us in many ways why they were better than the Americans. This included using American trash to throw the dogs off the trail of the tunnel entrances. Also they used discarded US bombs to make mines and used truck tires for sandals which they wore backwards to throw their pursuers off. But Mr. Bean’s attitude wasn’t unique. Walking around this country you can sometimes sense a muffled anti-Americanism. But any anomysity they might have against us disappears when they see the dollar.

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