Con Dao is the biggest archipelago in Ba Ria- Vung Tau province, and is also the most famous one in term of tourism. This archipelago contains 16 islands with the total size of 76 square kilometers, and the largest among them is Con Lon Island. Con Dao is notable for its paradoxes, namely one of very few “Hell on Earth” – Con Dao prison and the wonderful natural scenery with the ocean, mountains and grass field getting together. This abnormal combination explains for astonishing looks at the island: the beautiful of nature and the evilness of human.
The noted place in Con Dao is Con Dao prison – the place to jail prisoners in Vietnam War. Compared to Phu Quoc prison, Con Dao prison was still left behind in terms of torturing method variety, but it is well-known for a much longer history. Established in 1862 by French Colonists, Con Dao since then is known as a Hell on Earth; anyone arrested there would suffer the death painfully for sure.
From 1862 to 1975, Con Dao captured and detained thousands of prisoners, mostly patriots. Con Dao prison conjures up a dark memory that makes everyone trembling when reminding of the past. In Con Dao, the French Colonists and American Army have built a system of torturing, beating and killing prisoners very slowly and painfully. They established some special departments to easily torture prisoners.
The most famous one is separated “tiger cages”, which once shocked American public in 1970s, with unbelievable methods applied to prisoners. These tiger cages are small basements built by stone with steel window on the top, with the aisles between basements for jailers and soldiers to guard and insult prisoners with dirty water and lime. Jailers even invented “sunbathe room”, known as the tiger cages with no roof to force people inside to suffer from the sun heat for days. Another noted invention is separated cow sheds, which had been used to keep cow inside, but jailers transformed them into rooms for prisoners. They kept prisoners among animals with very poor conditions.
More terribly, they sent some “dangerous” prisoners to the basements under the sheds and let them rot away due to the excrement from the animals. Prisoners here were chained with cuffs all the time, and the foods was just enough for them to survive. The jailers beat prisoners whenever they wanted, and kept inventing torturing methods that could not be seen anywhere else, including taking teeth, nailing into body, burning, etc. Con Dao nowadays has become a dreadful museum for people to visit, but it still attracts many tourists to witness the remaining of the evilness of human. It could be a useful and interesting history lesson for all adventurous tourists.
Apart from the historical site, Con Dao is extremely stunning in tourists’ eyes with green grass field, beautiful rivers, high mountains, lovely climate and fresh air; it is a poetic picture of natural beauty. Opposite with the trembling fears from Con Dao prison, the wildlife of Con Dao brings tranquility and comfort to tourists.