- Art 492A: Seminar: Art History
Located approximately two hours (about 70km) from Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi is famous for its 200-kilometer network of underground tunnels. These tunnels were created and used by the Viet Cong forces during wars against both the French and Americans. This trip will take the group to visit Ben Duoc tunnels, a bit further than the frequently visited tunnels at Ben Dinh but less crowded and a bit more authentic. In addition, there is also the memorial temple near the tunnel that’s worth paying a visit. Here you will meet an ex Vietnamese guerrilla who is willing to share his own memories with the group (with advance arrangements)
Before visiting the tunnel system, you will be shown a video explaining their history and construction. From the mid-1940s onward, the tunnels were used as a base from which the Viet Cong could launch strategic attacks and then seemingly disappear into thin air. The tunnels had well-hidden entrances and thick roofs, which were capable of withstanding the weight of tanks and the impact of bombs. Unknowingly, the Americans even built a base camp on top of an existing tunnel network and suffered extensive casualties before they discovered their mistake. Most of the tunnels are only about two feet wide and five feet high. However, some of the passageways and tunnel rooms (e.g., meeting room, kitchen, dining room and hospital), while still small, have been enlarged for easier access. If you decide to visit the lower levels of the tunnels, which have not been enlarged, you will most likely get dirty while crawling through the narrow passageways. You may wish to bring a flashlight to assist in navigating these lower levels. You will also get to taste the staple food (cassava) and local tea, that the Vietnamese soldiers relied on.
Having lunch at nearby restaurant in Cu Chi area then heading back to Saigon for the visit at the War Remnants Museum—one of the best museums in the city.
The Museum of War Remnants (previously known as the Museum of American & Chinese War Crimes and then the Museum of War Atrocities) is housed in the former U.S. Information Service building. Many of the atrocities documented in the museum were well publicized in the West. This visit is likely to jolt the senses; many of the photographs are grisly and shocking. In the yard of the museum, U.S. armored vehicles; artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are displayed. This field program will provide a backdrop for considering how images of conflict are captured and conveyed, and for reflecting upon the ethics of telling war stories.
Casual clothes are recommended since you will get dirty while crawling in the tunnel