For me, a visit to Hanoi Prison is just as important as seeing Halong Bay when visiting Hanoi City. Even as a naturalized American it is tough but worthwhile to face one of the scars on our nation's foreign and political policies gone wrong.
At least my visit to the Hanoi Prison sheds some light on their sins here before the Americans were drawn into the conflict.
For all the political prisoners here, men and women, life was tough. From wearing neck and leg cuffs to existing on tough buffalo meat and potatoes, here was about some of the toughest prison conditions you could ever imagine.
In attempting a protest back in 1908 by poisoning kitchen food, some prisoners suffered the worst fate at the hands of French justice through the use of the guillotine.
Many were given reasonable medical care and American prisoners were even allowed to play basket and volleyball.
Despite the dark side of its history, there are also a few good stories about the Hanoi Prison. At one point taking advantage of a weakness in the building some prisoners were able to escape through the sewer system.
On the grounds on the Hanoi Prison now stands a deserving memorial to all the political prisoners that were held there. It should serve as a reminder to all that we should strive to never let this type of history repeat itself anywhere on the planet.