Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, 11/29
Saturday the 29th we had our last local excursion. It's fitting that it was a trip to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum. Uncle Ho just returned from his annual refurbishment. They used to send him to Russia each year, but now have the capability to freshen him up here. Waiting in line, we walked by a fountain with the side of the museum in the background. They don't allow any cameras in the Mausoleum, so we gave them all to Long to transport to the opposite side for us. Going through the Mausoleum is a real experience. They have guards about every ten feet who don't let you talk, put your hands in your pockets, or even cross your arms. Everyone walks (marches) two-by-two through the viewing area. Uncle Ho is in a glass case, reclining like in a bed. The lights are turned down so it is impossible to tell if it really is him. I have no doubts that it is, but he sure does look like one of the characters in a wax museum.
Although HCM is a must see if you are in Hanoi, it's refreshing to get to the other side and reclaim your belongings. It's interesting to note that Uncle Ho didn't want any part of this formality. His wishes were to be cremated and his ashes spread so he didn't take up valuable farm land!
Once outside the Mausoleum we gathered for a group picture. One of the reasons they chose to put the Mausoleum here was because it was the spot where Ho Chi Minh gave his independence speech on September 2, 1945.
The Mausoleum itself is kept at 65 degrees Farenheidt to preserve his body. There is an elevator shaft directly below his Sarcaufagus that will allow it to be lowered 70 feet into a bomb shelter if the Mausoleum is ever threatened.
This whole area is closed to vehicular traffice, so you can walk around without constantly watching for a motor bike, car, or bus that is intent on running you over. Included on the grounds is the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh never lived here, but the building was used then, and still is today, as the office building for the executive branch of the government. It was originally the French Governor General's residence.
The museum is fairly new, and from a curators point of view, is much more modern than the other museums we have seen, with the possible exception of the Museum of Ethnology.
What would the Ho Chi Minh museum be without a statue of the man himself, with Uncle Walter at his feet giving greetings to the visitors.
The museum is definitely eclectic and even avant garde, but it also has a great deal of good information on Ho's life and times. Here Cat is looking through on of the many tablet displays with information and documents.
The display with the 1958 Ford Edsel sticking out of the wall was roped off, but you could still see the Edsel. I remember from 2006 that this was supposed to symbolize American commercial failure, which the Vietnamese use to symbolize the American military failure.
The still-life Julia is looking at has the following description: "The symbols of nature in its beauty contrasted with the image of industrial plants in this hall represent Uncle Ho's expectation that young people shoulder responsibility for the protection and preservation of the environment, and prevention of aggressive and distructive wars." You can see the scale even better with the little guy standing in front of it.