Friday, December 16, 2005
Hoa Lo or Hanoi Hilton
I'm standing outside the infamous Hoa Lo prison better known as the Hanoi Hilton. John McCain and others were interred here for many years as POW's. before the North Vietnamese used this prison the French used it as a prison to house and torture Viet Minh prisoners. It's located near the Old Quarter in Ha Noi and also very near the tomb of Uncle Ho. I didn't go into the Tomb on my visit but I did browse the grounds of the museum near it and found it very pleasant with it's gardens and park like setting. Most of the facility is torn down now but the entrance and some of the cells and offices remain. It made way for a real Ha Noi Hilton built on the sight with offices and other buildings. I was hussled for a cyclo ride outside the gates and the driver not knowing I spoke a little Vietnamese was pleading with my guide not to out him and make me pay the inflated fare because he had a family and all to support but I chastised him in Vietnamese and he was surprised and embarrassed but I ended up paying him the higher rate because it was alot further than I thought to get to the Old Quarter from there and it was up hill too! My beautiful guide was so embarrassed to ride with me in the same cyclo she kept hiding, hoping she wouldn't see anyone she knew. All Vietnamese presume any females with Americans are prostitutes. She took me around town at the bequest of her employer. A restaurant owner I befreinded, and she wouldn't take any money for her efforts. 5 hours of guiding and translating for me and I finally persuaded her to take $10.00 dollars.