Cu Chi

1/ Tunnels of Cu Chi:

*/ Originally created by the Viet Minh in French conoly (the network was then twenty kilometers), these tunnels have been developed considerably during the US -Vietnam conflict to reach about 250 km. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and was the base of operations of the Viet Cong during the Tet offensive of Mau Than in 1968. Known as one of the points of arrival of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the tunnels were used by FNL combatants (Viet Cong) as caches during combat, communication channels, procurement, hospitals, food storage, armory and real neighborhoods where they lived in appalling conditions. At the height of the war, they housed 16,000 people.

Reported by the U.S. General Staff as "overkill zone", all armed attempts to neutralize the tunnels have failed and no technical implementation will come to end this network (bombing defoliant, napalm, using dogs and rats tunnels: specialized operations "search and destroy" tunnels) commandos.

The importance of this underground tunnel system should not be underestimated in the resistance that the FNL has opposed American operations. Their role in stopping the war is not negligible.

*/ The network of the Cu Chi tunnels played a major role in the Vietnam War. They are located northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, about forty kilometers. They were dug in the late 1940s by determined fighters but underequipped against French and American forces with artillery, bombers and chemical weapons.

Extending over forty kilometers, these tunnels to allow controlled by the Viet Cong areas communicate with each other when they were isolated from American or South Vietnamese areas. They also provided shelter to the population during air attacks.

*/ Map of the region of Cu Chi: Bottom right are distinguished Saigon airport. The area is red tunnels. Each black line represents a tunnel. The blue lines symbolize the rivers.

Around 1965, thanks to them, the Viet Cong could engage in surprise attacks and evaporate without a trace. The Americans decided to strike hard and transformed the area of Cu Chi in what was later called "the most bombed area, gassed, defoliated and desolate of all time by the war". Nicknamed the "Iron Triangle", they began by installing a broad base in the district of Cu Chi. Without knowing it, they just built over a network of galleries. 25°C the division began months to understand why his soldiers were down the night in their tents.

*/ Then, to deprive the Viet Cong shelter and supplies, they poured defoliants ("Agent Orange") on rice, razed a huge area of ​​jungle, and laminator evacuated villages. A few months later, they sprinkled petrol and napalm the dried vegetation. But the humidity of the tropical air associated with the intense heat triggered rains that allowed the Viet Cong to survive in these underground shelters.

*/ Unable to win this battle by chemical weapons, the U.S. Army sent men to attack the tunnels. This army of "moles" suffered heavy losses. Americans when they used German shepherds specially trained dogs. To divert the Vietcong soldiers put pepper on their way. They washed with soap and donned U.S. uniforms of their prisoners to deceive the smell of dogs.

The Americans then declared Cu Chi "Zone of fire at will". GIs could fire on anything that moved. Artillery fire took place at night, pilots could dump their surplus bombs and napalm before returning to their base. Viet Cong resisted. In the late 60s, exasperated Americans gave orders to their B 52 to finish with this region. The bombs destroyed most of the tunnels and the surrounding countryside. However it was too late: the United States is already withdrawing from the war. Tunnels had fulfilled their mission.

*/ In these tunnels, the Vietcong soldiers lived in harsh conditions and wiped terrible losses. Only 6,000 of the 16,000 fighters survived. Countless civilians died in this horror.

The villages of Cu Chi district were treated to numerous honors. The government decorated, the declared "heroic villages." Since 1975, new settlements were built, and the population of the region has more than doubled, now reaching 200,000 people. Land and water, however, still contain defoliants, and crops remain meager.

The section we visited is that of Ben Duoc. They is not real tunnels but a precise reconstruction for tourists. It allows simple and efficient technical view used by the Viet Cong to make these virtually undetectable underground. They camouflèrent hatches out of wood under the earth and foliage and trapped him by some mines or simply by sharp metal spikes. They even found a way to build secret from underwater rivers. They prepared their meals on stoves which gave off smoke far from their cooking place through a system of ducts. Traps prevented tear gas, smoke and water spread in tunnels. These tunnels are about 1.20 m high and 0.80 m wide. They sometimes lead to rooms used as kitchens, dormitories and infirmaries restored.

*/ Entering a tunnel

Ducts flue

Meeting room

*/ Nursing

Viet Cong chief

Cutting a section of a tunnel

Near the tunnel was built a vast pagoda. Inside, thousands of names are engraved in gold letters on the walls: all those dead Vietcong casualties during those terrible fights.

* / Trench hose: giao thông Hào

Python: con Tran

*/ 35 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi preserves the memory of one of the most extraordinary feats with the Vietcong Ho Chi Minh Trail , the tunnel resistance of Cu Chi.

Under the French, there was a huge rubber plantation owned by Michelin. This area, near the capital of South Vietnam, was the seat of a very strong resistance activity and blows hands in the capital.

This "mania" tunneling does not date from the last war in Vietnam, but the 40s, when the first resistant needed for weapons caches. The place was appropriate, because the water level here is quite low and not likely to flood the tunnels. Cu Chi underground even became in 1945 the headquarters of the Maquis "D" of the Viet Minh.

During the Vietnam war, the tunnel system had exceeded 200 km, an area of ​​4,300 hectares: A complex multilevel network, and may come down to 7 m deep. The minimum depth was 3 m, so as to support the weight of a tank of 50 tonnes or the impact of a bomb of 100 pounds. The dimensions of the tunnel - types were 60-70 cm wide by 80-90 cm only, and the shape of the hose was triangular. The ventilation came from two air holes dug about twenty meters from the network. Wells were dug for drinking water. We found the way to the kitchen without smoke spread. This labyrinth contained many secret exits, residential areas, warehouses, arms factories , hospitals campaign , command centers and kitchens.

To survive, the principle was simple, it was enough to learn to walk without leaving footprints, speak without making sounds, smokeless cooking and become invisible for all outdoor activities."

* / The most important thing was to hide the access because the Americans connaisaient the existence of these tunnels, but failed to locate them. The radical solution was used by the Americans to move the entire population of Cu Chi in 180 new villages. Once the net instead, the B-52 could water the region of 80 tonnes of bombs containing defoliants daily. Then sowed the "American grass", an ultra- fast grass growth which prevented the regrowth of native plants. It was not the only benefit of this herb: During hot weather, it dried quickly and new bomb set fire, revealing theoretically camouflage. This policy had the effect of mobilizing the ancient inhabitants of the region, that number would swell the ranks of the resistance. This did not prevent the Vietcong in Cu Chi to establish their headquarters during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

Today, much of the tunnels collapsed, but was reconstructed a typical section of fifty meters. The diameter of the tunnel has been enlarged to allow tourists to crawl there.

2 / The Temple - Cathedral of Cadaoïstes to Tay Ninh:

Located a hundred kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, the capital of the province of the same name is the seat of the most fascinating Vietnamese religions, Cao Dai. The temple Cao Dai Cathedral is one of the most striking buildings in Asia.

The Cao Dai sect follower is known as Tam Ky Pho Do. It was founded in 1921 by Ngo Van Chieu, a Vietnamese official, born in 1878 in Cholon. This passionate spiritualist claimed to communicate with the "Supreme Palace" (Cao Dai), a supreme entity, a combination of the most ancient religious philosophies of the East and the West. Supreme Palace asked to represent as a symbolic eye. Our illuminated communicated with the Supreme Palace through a divination basket, whose beak traced "voluntarily" divine messages that only insiders could interpret mediums.

This building was built in 1927 by a colonial adviser Van Trung , who had converted to Cao Dai and had forced the founder of the sect into exile.

Cao Dai became fashionable in the 30s, appearing as a combination of both doctrines and worshiping Sun Yat Sen, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Quan Am, Jeanne d'Arc, Churchill, Victor Hugo astronomer Flamarion ... in the 60s, the number of his followers was estimated at two million.

The complex includes the great temple, administrative offices, housing for employees and loyal, and a dispensary traditional herbal medicine. Prayers are held four times a day, but may be suspended during Tet. Hundreds of priests, dressed in white, participate in prayers during the week; there are thousands on feast days.

The "divine eye" adorns the pediment of the entrance. The area in the center of the sanctuary, between the colonnades, is reserved for priests. A fresco in the lobby shows the three signatories of the "third covenant between God and the "Man" revolutionary man and Chinese State Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925) holding a stone fountain, while the Nguyen Binh Khiem Vietnamese poet (1492-1587) and Victor Hugo (1802-1885) respectively written with a brush in Chinese "God and Humanity" and with a pen in French "Love and Justice".

The Great Temple is built on nine levels to symbolize the nine steps leading to heaven. At the back of the sanctuary, eight plaster columns, decorated with colorful dragons, support the dome depicting paradise. Under the dome, a huge blue sphere studded with stars door "divine eye".

The largest of the seven seats in front of the globe is reserved to the pope Caodaist (his seat is vacant since 1933). The three leaders are those books containing the precepts of doctrine. The last three are for leaders of the three branches of the Cao Dai, represented by the colors yellow, blue and red.

At the top, near the hotel, it discerns only the portraits of six key figures in the Cao Dai: Sakyamuni (founder of Buddhism), Ly Thai Bach (Fairy Chinese mythology), Khuong Tu Nha (Chinese saint), Laozi (Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism), Quan Cong (Chinese god of war) and Quan Am (Chinese goddess of mercy)

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