We began the day by traveling out of Ho Chi Minh City. Our first stop was a rice field at harvest time. Some students and faculty had the opportunity to cut the rice with a tool similar to a small scythe. The lady in the field had a big smile on her face as we attempted the work she does.
Our next stop was a rubber tree planation. The average size of a farm is about one hectare. The tree is stripped of its bark and tapped like a maple tree for its sap. Farmers are converting land to rubber trees because they can make up to 7 times the profit compared to rice due to high input costs for rice.
After the rubber tree plantation we ate lunch outside next to a stream watching ducks and a plant called water hyacinth float by. We enjoyed the meal as well as throwing rice chips to the ducks.
Shortly after lunch we visited a family dairy that milked 12 cows. They owned one milk machine and milked in a stanchion barn. The cows ate rice stalks, feed meal, and a rice by-product similar to corn distillers grain. Unlike most families, this one does not own enough grazing pasture to let them outside so they stay in the stanchion barn tied up by a rope.
Now, onto the most interesting place of the day, the Cu Chi tunnels. These tunnels were used by the Vietnamese against the American troops to avoid the frequent bombings. These tunnels were created up to 10 meters below in as many as three levels. The Vietnamese would live underground for days at a time to avoid detection by American troops. Later on in the tour some students were allowed to shoot some of the battle rifles as well as crawl through a 100 meter section of the tunnel. The tunnels were probably about 4 feet tall by 2 feet wide so they were a tight squeeze to say the least.
To end the day we travelled back into the city to eat supper at another outdoor restaurant. Tonight we plan to explore the night market and other attractions of the city.
Tyler Krcil and Justine Meis