Today we went to see Vietnam’s most famed deceased person, Mr. Ho Chi Minh.
Yes, deceased. Dead.
Ho Chi Minh, more affectionately known as Uncle Ho, is the man who is famed for unifying Vietnam and fighting the Japanese, the French and then the Americans.
And he’s dead. Since 1969 actually.
Against his wishes, the Vietnamese government decided to embalm him so that he could be with the people forever. And it’s pretty cool.
We got to the mausoleum around 9.30am – it’s only open from 8am to 11am, and despite the large crowd of people, the line moved swiftly and orderly. We got into a bit of a fight with a very rude female staff member who yelled at us to leave our camera and yet wouldn’t tell us where, and when we asked the counter they told us somewhere else, and when we went to that counter they wouldn’t tell us where so the woman yelled at us again, then we yelled back to her that no one was telling us where to put it!
In the line, we shuffled into the very impressive mausoleum, then shuffled into a corridor, then shuffled into the room which held Ho Chi Minh’s body. You couldn’t dawdle in there with the armed, white uniformed guards tapping you to move along if you shuffle too slowly.
I got tapped on the shoulder twice cos I had my arms crossed due to the cold air-conditioning in there.
It was very eerie, but tastefully done. Dim lights in the room, dark wooden decor, four guards at each corner of the coffin, and Ho Chi Minh looking very relaxed and sleepy in the middle. He was shiny and very well preserved due to his annual holidays to Russia for ‘touch ups.’
I enjoyed it and it was fascinating to see the man behind the legend. I did find it a bit odd however to see so many young kids with their parents piling into the mausoleum. I would imagine that’s a difficult concept to explain to a four year old.
We also checked out his old office area, preserved from the 60’s, and his old, very modest, stilt house.