Hanoi Hilton and Hanoi Haircut

Trip Start May 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, July 22, 2012

On our last day in Hanoi we decided to check out the Hoa Lo Prison, otherwise known as the Hanoi Hilton by American POW's in the Vietnam war. They refer to it as the American war. John McCain was a POW here for a number of years as he was shot down over north Vietnam on a bombing run. The prison itself was built in 1896 by the French colonists to imprison Vietnamese freedom fighters and political prisoners during the colonization years.

The prisoners during those years were treated much worse than the POW's during the war it seems. There were public executions (beheading by guillotine in the 1930's and 40's!) and the severed heads were put on display to deter further action against the French. This seemed to be the evolution of how communism was eventually the driving force here, in response to French colonization and the mistreatment of the Vietnamese during this period. It was after this that communism took over and that's when the Americans intervened. Learning about the history of Vietnam deals with a lot of war and occupations! From China and the Mongols to French and America, it seems everyone has had a piece of the Vietnamese pie.

But more about the Hoa Lo prison. It was pretty scary, especially in the dungeon where prisoners were shackled in isolation and in the death chamber. By the time we got to the stuff about the American POW's, it seems they were treated better and they all made it out alive (?). At least it looks like the death chamber and the guillotine we no longer in use. We saw some pictures of John McCain when he was captured and his flight suit. There was also a picture of McCain touring the prison around 2001, and pictures of Clinton and Bush as well. I was wondering if McCain ever returned, and it seemed he did. Good on him!

After that I got a haircut. It was at a salon, fanciest place I ever got my hair cut at. And they did a good job, just check out the accompanying photographic evidence if you don't believe me.

We saw a number of streetside barbers (exactly what it sounds like) our first few days in Hanoi and I desperately wanted to find another one to get my haircut at but alas, we did not come across any more. It's not exactly something you can google either. We had some Bun Cha, which was grilled pieces of pork mixed with some noodles in a broth and it was delicious. You can find the best food here for under a couple of dollars granted you don't mind sitting on plastic chairs on the sidewalk. And we certainly do not mind one bit. The restaurants in Hanoi have been good but the street food has been incredible.

Then we took a night train to Danang, the Saigon of the North. We didn't spend any time in the Saigon of the North though because we had all of our bags and stuff, so we cabbed it to nearby Hoi An where we'll spend the next few days. Until next time, dear readers, until next time...
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Rochelle on

I'm all caught up! Phew. Hopefully I will be able to read your blogs every few days from now on. So good to chat with you today!

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