I studied parts of the Vietnam American war in school. We were taught dates and statistics and about the major military events but exploring the the Ky An tunnels provided me with a much richer understanding of the lived experiences of war, and the hardships faced by each and every individual who took part. Just two minutes of crawling through the cramped, damp and dark tunnels and I had worked up a sweat and I wondered how anyone could stay down there for any longer than a few minutes. It was a truly meaningful experience and not one I am likely to forget.
Our guide for the day, Mr Tan, was a teenager during the war and he was one of the 130? people living in KyAn who helped to build the tunnels. The intimate stories relayed by Mr Tan provided a side of history not often offered by euro-centric history lessons or text books. And It gave me something different from other tours I have experienced here in Vietnam—authenticity. I felt privileged to hear such a fascinating account of life in Ky An fifty years ago from a first hand witness of the war. From start to finish, the tour was humbling, harrowing and captivating.
Despite the weight of the topic, the tour struck the right balance of informative, personal and enduring. The opportunity to see the local handicrafts and the simple village life was uplifting and inspiring in its own right. The community atmosphere of Ky An was in itself an attraction and added to the historical experience of the place as well. The surrounding countryside was peaceful and gave me a much needed break from city life.
(Alison Kwan -A tourist)