Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vietnam 32: A Visit With Uncle Ho

The mausoleum where the body of Ho Chi Minh
is on display.
by Pa Rock
World Traveler

Former home of the French colonial governors
New Year's Eve was our last full day in Vietnam, and we spent it seeing some remarkable sights.  Our first stop was at the mausoleum complex where the remains of former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh are on display in a large glass display case.  Uncle Ho has been stuffed and is now a tourist attraction in a nation that pretends to be communist with a strong utilitarian focus.   And while many pricey stores with fashionable names are readily available, even in Hanoi, and many small vendors are eager to accept dollars on the sly, the opportunity to view the earthly remains of Ho Chi Minh is free.

The large and imposing structure that houses the body of Uncle Ho (which is what the Vietnamese loving call their former leader) is in a park-like setting next to a lake, and within a very short walk of the mansion which was the former home of the French colonial governors - as well as two small homes where Uncle Ho actually lived and worked.  It is an extremely beautiful setting.  Also close by is the famous One-Pillar Pagoda.  We were able to take in all of these historic sites in a morning.

Straight ahead:  The first home of Ho Chi Minh at the site
We were not permitted to take pictures of the body of Ho Chi Minh.  His body is housed in a large glass case that has a Vietnamese military guard standing at rigid attention on each corner of the display.  The viewing walkway is above the display looking down.   The line of tourists keeps moving with observers being given about 30 to 45 seconds in which they can view the body.

It was a bit chilly the day we were there, and I made the mistake of putting my hands in my pockets.  Military men in uniform instantly told me to remove my hands from my pockets.  I did as instructed.  If I am destined to start an international incident, I don't want it to be in Hanoi, Vietnam!

Uncle Ho's dining room in the original home
There was a souvenir shop along the walkway as we were leaving the Ho complex.  (They are everywhere - in every country!)  At this particular shop I added to my growing Buddha collection with a hand-carved Happy Buddha reclining on a rocking bed.  It is very unusual and rocks perfectly.

Enjoy the tour of the Ho Chi Minh complex.

Ho's study.  Note the picture of Karl Marx over the window
and the bust of Lenin on the bookcase
Ho's second home at the site - the house on stilts.
The lake by the house on stilts - where Uncle Ho would
feed his beloved fish each evening
A guard beneath the house on stilts.  Note the large
conference table in the background.  Many war
strategy meetings were held beneath the house
at that table
Another view of the conference table beneath the
house on stilts.
A room for study in the house on stilts.
Uncle Ho's simple bedroom.
Another view beneath the house.  It was connected to a
bomb shelter by a secret tunnel.
The One-Pillar Pagoda 
The Shrine at the One-Pillar Pagoda

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