I strolled the back streets on the first afternoon I arrived to discover this peaceful haven had a dark past. The island had been used as a prison for those who opposed French colonial rule; followed by the Vietnamese government against their own dissidents; and lastly by the U.S.
Moss stained walls surrounded Phu Hai Prison while the smell of urine hung near the barred windows. I didn’t venture inside. It was dismal enough from the exterior.
Next I wandered to the prison where the notorious tiger cages were located but it was just as depressing. I would learn more about these cells at the museum.