The One-Door Bater Guario's House, a Haunt for Criminal Vultures | SaigonWalks

The One-Door Bater Guario's House, a Haunt for Criminal Vultures | SaigonWalks

The One-Door Bater Guario's House, a Haunt for Criminal Vultures | SaigonWalks

The prison has an uncanny ability to "haunt" those who enter, making escape difficult. The French commissioned a group of Japanese architects to design the prison based on the Bat Quai figure in Eastern feng shui, a common architectural form found in ancient Chinese public buildings. The three-story structure has a single entrance, known as Cua Tu.

Prior to 1975, the facility was utilized to incarcerate both criminals and Communist prisoners. Following 1975, the prison persisted in detaining political prisoners and criminals alike.

Bat Quai Architecture: A Prison That Never Releases 'Serious Prisoners'

Bat Quai architecture is a regular octagonal shape based on the ancient Eastern philosophy of Tai Chi, which gives birth to Doubts, Two Nghi gives birth to Four Statues, Tu Tuong gives birth to Ba Quai, and Ba Quai gives birth to Can Khon. The Chinese consider the Bat Quai to be 8 hexagrams that symbolize life and the universe, including Can, Ton, Kham, Can, Khon, Chan, Ly, and Doai. In Kham Chi Hoa, each hexagram corresponds to a row of houses arranged in the order A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H.

Despite the prison's unique architectural design, few people understand why Chi Hoa clinic only has one door and is named Cua Tu. Some feng shui experts believe that the construction is meant to "hide" sinners who are condemned to eternal imprisonment, even in death. The Sanh gate's corresponding position is blocked to prevent souls from escaping. Each year during heavy rains and thunderstorms, lightning continuously strikes Kham Chi Hoa despite lightning rods being installed all around. The location of the lightning strikes is almost always at the blocked Sanh gate, which is the row of houses with the most prisoners. These rumors only added to the clinic's mysterious reputation. Some people claimed that the lightning strikes were God's way of creating a birth door for dead souls to be reincarnated. However, scientists later discovered a metal ore mine beneath the location where the lightning strikes occurred.

Even President Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic, believed in feng shui stories. He too was intrigued by the strange happenings at Chi Hoa clinic and ordered the tile roof in the GF area (Cua Sanh) to be leveled. Perhaps he hoped to create more favorable feng shui conditions for the spirits imprisoned there.

Tru thien kiem and the church of satisfaction.

The statue of the sealed Sword, known as "Tru Tien Kiem," is situated in the center of Ho Chi Minh City's beautiful lawn. This sword serves to keep the seal for the entire Ba Quai structure, and if it were to break, the confinement of Cua Tu and Ba Quai Do would become ineffective. During the French colonial period, a church was built in the heart of the Ba Quai Battle, where death row inmates were baptized before execution. After 1975, the prison management ordered the demolition of the church. During the demolition, many individuals involved in the process died unexpectedly until a deputy director repaired everything and restored normalcy.

The Ba Quai architecture maximizes the confinement effect, making it difficult to escape due to the closed construction that covers the outside, and the interior contains a series of iron bars with private archery. Without a map, the chance of escaping is significantly low. Over the years, only a small number of prisoners have successfully escaped, despite the millions of people detained here. Two notable cases include the escape of revolutionary soldiers in 1945 and a notorious prisoner in 1995, Phuoc Tam Ngon, who meticulously bypassed the prison warden and doorman to escape and caused a stir in Saigon.

After a considerable amount of time, the infrastructure of Chi Hoa Prison had severely deteriorated by 2021, leading to a proposed disbandment of the facility. However, several historians have expressed opposition to this decision, citing the prison's status as a historic site of the Communist Party of Vietnam's revolution. Many notable political prisoners, including the heroic Nguyen Van Troi, were once incarcerated within its walls.

Saigon is a city that has witnessed numerous wars, which have shaped its land to be both youthful and dynamic, yet imbued with a nostalgic aura. With fresh colors blended with memories of the past, Saigon exudes a bustling atmosphere that is occasionally peaceful and reflective. To delve deeper into the history and culture of Saigon's people, consider reaching out to Saigonwalks for quality tour programs tailored to your interests.