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Hoa Lo Prison...

....gave me the willies!

67 °F

We stumbled upon Hoa Lo Prison the other day when we only had a few hours to kill before heading to Sapa. It's located in the middle of Hanoi and was a short walk from our Hotel. It was used as a prison by the French at first, mostly for people from around Vietnam that were opposing the French occupation. But once the French moved out during the mid 1950's and the American's moved in during the 60's, it became a prison for American fighter pilots once captured by the Vietnamese. Ana and I were strolling around the prison for a while just enjoying the sights, but after turning a few corners I definitely got the creeps.

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Take for example the Guillotine. This was one of two guillotines used back in the day. Next to it was a photos of three heads that were cut off after the Hoa Lo poisoning incident (apparently a big deal). I understood that some of the prisoners poisened the food of some guards, causing the need for a little retrobution towards the prisoners. Ouch!

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This is the wall outside the prison that keeps people from jumping over. See all the broken bottles molded together in cement, then draped with barbed wire on top?

The last series of pictures...well...have a look...
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The first one is of John McCain's aviator suit he wore during the Vietnam Conflict. The was shot down by the enemy foces in Hanoi, yet, he was able to crash in to a lake and avoid death. His uniform and helmet is on display here because he spent part of his 5 years in Hoa Lo prison. Next to his uniform is a small story about his crashing in Truc Bach Lake along with a photo of him being fished out by soldiers and local towns people. The last photo is of the letter that all service men carried with them when they went into the field of battle. It was a notice for the enemy, acknowledging in a variety of languages their basic need for food and/or first aid as well as a request to be returned to their home country. Seeing all this stuff makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

After trying to digest all of the information put forth in this prison about the "American War" (as they refer to it), I kept wondering why we were even here in the first place. I'm sure there's a few answers to that question, and very different answers depending on who you ask. Nonetheless, there are no winners in war. The info i've seen here about the war with the Americans is probably just a you would expect it to be, very much in defence of the Vietnamese people and their political way of life. Only after seeing the sights around town and meeting a few people, it's hard not to become even more more intrigued with the culture here. Without going to much deeper, i'm very glad we decided to visit Vietnam and have the chance to read the other side's perspective. This has been a pretty interesting experience.

Be well and safe travels Amigos!

Keith

Posted by Sr.curtissan 05:38 Archived in Vietnam

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