The US newspaper New York Times included Vietnam’s Con Dao island among its 52 places to love in 2021.
The destinations were selected from more than 2,000 suggestions the paper received after asking its readers about spots that have delighted, inspired and comforted them in a dark year. It said these places remind us that the world still awaits.
Thang Dac Luong, a lawyer and a writer in Sydney, chose Con Dao as his place of significance, describing it as “a tropical paradise with a terrible past.” The author wrote about his father’s captivity on the island from 1961 – 1963 and his memorable trip to Con Dao.
“I spent three days on Con Dao. I visited a cemetery where relatives of people who died or suffered in the prison can bring offerings. There’s a marine conservatory, where baby turtles are being raised. On the last day, I was on the beach. As I swam out in the warm, turquoise water, I burst into tears. It’s important that we have these places where we can remember the people we’ve lost. Someday, I’d like to take my children there so they can learn more about their grandfather.”
Located around 230 kilometers (143 miles) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao island was once dubbed ‘Hell on Earth,’ home to a brutal prison where the French and American invaders jailed and tortured many Vietnamese freedom fighters during the 19th and 20th centuries.
This is not the first time Vietnam’s prison island has been highlighted by prestigious publications.
In 2017, CNN praised it as one of 12 paradise islands in Asia, while US magazine Time included Con Dao in a list of 13 places around the world to amaze travelers with its blue water./.VNA
Con Dao has been voted one of the best “secret” and most “appealing” islands on earth by Australian Lonely Planet and US Travel and Leisure magazines.
When mentioning Con Dao island, people often remember Con Dao prison, once considered "Hell on Earth" during the war against the foreign invaders.