Me and Chairman Mao
  Hanoi: the "Hilton."
Naturally, when I say "Hanoi Hilton," I'm not speaking about the actual Hilton hotel located in the city of Hanoi--the somewhat tortuously named "Hilton Hanoi Opera." I'm speaking, of course, of the somewhat better known Hoa Lo ("Fiery Furnace") prison in Saigon, which is even better known to anyone who knows something about the Vietnam war as--you guessed it--the Hanoi Hilton.

(Note to my special-needs readers: it's a joke, see? It's a prison in Hanoi, but they call it the Hilton--a comfortable if unspectacular chain of hotels--because it wasn't anything like a hotel, what with the lack of a pool. Plus, you know, the torture.)

Anyway, while we were in Hanoi, we naturally took some time to visit the Hanoi Hilton. Here's the front door, which makes a lot more sense when you realize the French built the place in 1904 to hold (and, judging by what I saw inside, brutalize and kill) Vietnamese political prisoners, and that "Maison Centrale" apparently means prison in French:

A lovely exterior shot:

What would a French prison be without a guillotine? Um, I don't know. Not French, I suppose? Anyway, this was one of two they had in the place--apparently, the French weren't shy about using it on the Vietnamese:

While most of the prison-museum was about how badly the French treated the Vietnamese, there was, of course, a small part dedicated to the Americans who had been held there during the Vietnam war. All of whom were, of course, treated incredibly humanely, despite the many crimes committed by the American aggressors:

Most of you probably know that John McCain was a guest at the Hanoi Hilton. To prove it, here's his flight suit:

How humanely did the Vietnamese treat the Americans? So humanely that they were allowed to cook for themselves. How nice of them:

There was a better picture that didn't come out--of American prisoners being "escorted" to the prison through the streets of Hanoi. And by escorted, I of course mean being led in chains through the middle of the city while surrounded by a howling mob. Ah, good times ...

Previously, on my vacation:
- Hanoi: the People.
- Hanoi: Zoom, Zoom.
- Hanoi: the Streets.
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Hanoi: the People.
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The good, the bad, and the ugly.
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Bangkok, oriental setting.
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