A few weeks ago, I visited the island of Con Dao, off the southern coast of Vietnam. It’s a fairly strange place; combining somewhat equal parts of tropical paradise and brutal history within its coastlines. It is still fairly undeveloped, with only three real hotels, one of which is much more luxurious and unaffordable than the others, and few activities to require your attention. But there are a few relics of its past that provide a sobering look at those who visited the island on pretenses other than travel and relaxation.

A complex of several prisons, built by the French, and later utilized by the Vietnamese and the Americans still remain. Many of the cells and ‘Tiger Cages’ are also fitted out with very life-like models of those who resided and were tortured here, that give you a lot more to look at than just empty rooms and their ghosts. I won’t go into a long historical lecture, but I’d encourage you to read more about it if you’re so inclined.  Below are a few of the images I found especially poignant, and wanted to share.

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

From what the models show, them men remained shackled in the cells, and the woman slightly more free.

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

I asked a caretaker what this scene represented. She said the woman had ripped out her own innards and thrown them on the face of the guard. I had no more words to questions to reply with.

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Con Dao, an island off the coast of Vietnam, holds a brual past. It was home to a complex of prisons, originally built by the French, and later used by the Americans to imprison and torture Vietnamese fighting for the Communist cause. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)