22-Nov-2017, Hanoi - The old jail of Hanoi is opened to the public early in the morning at 9am. Pay a normal fee and you can visit this historical site in the middle of Hanoi city. Above is one of the wall inside the jail. Kinda reminds me of Attack of Titan somehow.... Anyway, I wanted to visit this place mainly due to the Vietnam War, and also that I have never actually visited a jail before. And since this place was nearby, open in the early morning, and not too expensive, I thought why not. It would be educational!
The name of this jail is so pretty too - Maison Centrale. It was also known as the Hanoi Hilton as it houses mainly American soldiers during the war. I don't really know or cared much about war, so everything inside was new to me. Interestingly I have visited the Hiroshima Museum before too. This visit was kinda similar in terms of feel and emotion, Hiroshima being a more emotional sad one. This jail was rather brightly coloured in yellow, and with beautiful tiles inside, and lovely solid looking dark green door.
But don't be fooled. According to this sign above, this is one of the most secured jail in South East Asia during it's time. And although it looks rather small in all these photos here, the actual ground has actually been release for commercial use, and they have just left the core building for historical sake.
Inside there are replica to help you imagine what it was like to be held as a prisoner here. One crowded hall with prisoners of war, and just one toilet with no privacy in one end of the room.
Or solitary confinement cells which is dark and small. Kinda look like a scene from some horror movie doesn't it? It doesn't really feel eery or scary for me. There was no echo not any goosebumps on my skin while I was there. It was just educational....
There were cells holding people who were sentence to death as well. Again, nothing unusual about their cells either. It was just boring walls and bars of keeping human inside.
There was a shrine at one end of the cells for people to pay respect. The whole place was for vietnamese people to come and pay respect of the people who fight for vietnam during the war. How even though they were prisoner, their spirit was high and patriotism was strong among comrades.
I can't really read proper Vietnamese except food signs and coffee signs, but I bet above is some message to keep the spirit high. I bet it's about keeping the independence of Vietnam and it's people. The whole place may be a one-sided story kind of place, but it was still new to me, and interesting. I am easily fooled by propaganda
There is even a framed new year message from Uncle Ho inside. It looks kinda, well... non-official.
But all in all, I do recommend people to visit this place, to learn a bit about the history of Vietnam and Hanoi. If you want to read up more on the truth of what happened here after that, there is always the internet or history book you can reference too. Just remember, history is written by the victor.