The Grand Plan. And, the “Hanoi Hilton”

We have a Plan. The moment is nigh—tomorrow we must dig deep, put on our Brave Face and take a deep dive into the traffic on our bikes. After careful consideration of life & limb (ours), we have made the wise decision to apply a strategic tip we learned from our friend at home, Helmut. We will execute a middle-of-the-night escape to get the heck outta town before the anarchy of morning traffic madness ensues. In wanting to preview, and assuage some of our road-battle-anxiety we propelled ourselves out of bed at 5am today to see what the streets are like under the cover of early morning darkness. We wandered about, taking inventory of the streets—runners out running, people out hot-potting (still), and restaurant proprietors scrubbing their wares. But it was peaceful and serene. Our Plan is to set the alarm for 3am and go for it—rolling by 4am!

Today we visited the Hỏa Lò Prison Relic, known by American POWs during the Vietnam War as as “Hanoi Hilton”. At times the facility has also incarcerated Vietnamese dissidents and political prisoners who endured cruel, inhumane conditions, severe torture methods and prolonged periods of solitary confinement. Thick walls create dungeon-like cells, walls painted black with tar to further darken the gloom. Cells had leg irons to keep prisoners (mostly the political prisoners) locked in misery day & night, many in complete darkness. The prison was demolished during the 1990s. The pictures speak louder than words.

An individual cell and all its creature comforts.

The primitive toilets which collected the waste in buckets underneath.

The narrow sewage pipe through which some prisoners managed to escape.

The memorial at the Prison.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vietnam 2024.


  1. I’d completely forgotten about the Hanoi Hilton, initially thought that you had decided to spend a restful night in a flashy hotel! 😉
    Can’t imagine how soldiers managed to survive their prison experience.

  2. Neil was telling me further about the Hanoi Hilton. Absolutely terrible!!!
    I wish you both a safe escape from the metropolis of Hanoi to nicer quieter areas. Good idea leaving in the dark of the night.

  3. Incredible to be in that spot (Hanoi Hilton)
    Also, so very cute that you think 4am is middle of the night lol !
    That is full on morning coffee time lol !
    Good luck, you guys rock.

    • Marianne, I’m so not a morning person! I consider 10am to be about the appropriate full on coffee time.

  4. I’ve read several books on the Hanoi Hilton and would have been intrigued to wander around and try to imagine what the prisoners must have had to deal with. Mans inhumanity to man at its peak.

  5. Spectacular pictures. You guys have an eye for a good photo. Good luck on your adventures. It’s going to be amazing!

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