No.140, Weixin Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City 600, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Out of curiosity, most tourists in San Francisco take a boat to Alcatraz Island, a famous attraction not only for its appearance in The Rock but also for holding many felons in the past. The legends and mystery about the prison always attract tourists, yet almost anyone who really visits the prison find it plain and dull. Nevertheless, in Taiwan's Chiayi City there is another prison open to the public. Volunteer staff in this old prison provide tours four times a day, in which visitors can understand life behind bars at close range. Since the free tour is participated with only a small number of visitors and a museum guide, the one-hour trip is full of marvels.
While waiting outside for the tour, visitors can navigate to the side wall, where a dummy wearing prison uniform is climbing on the wires as if to escape. Even though it is a wish of most prisoners, and there was indeed an inmate escaping from Chiayi Prison successfully, escaping is not what nearby residents are happy to see. When the tour starts, visitors entering from the gate do not feel anything special. Instead, they feel like entering a usual barrack. However, as they follow the guide step by step, in the warden room they see a small cabinet housing the keys to iron doors, and in the visitation room they imagine inmates holding a phone complaining to his family across the railing. Walking into the showroom, visitors marvel at the self-made tools for tattoos and the instruments used by the guards. Then they pass through a dark corridor without lights and arrive at the central monitoring station, which is equipped with broadcasting systems and TV screens. Finally, visitors find themselves stand in front of a row of wood doors. Although the doors have been opened widely, the narrow, small space and the primitive toilet upset the visitors, who involuntarily picture the once filthy and sultry environment in the now renovated cell. Back to the outdoor area, in the courtyard grows a tree, while some Chinese-style miniature buildings stand in a pond, giving no clues why they belong to a prison. Finally, before the end of the tour, visitors may hear some rumors about mistreated prisoners or stories of supernatural elements. Whether they are reality or fabrication, one thing is sure: days are definitely tough when one loses freedom and dignity.