The first thing we did on our first morning in Hanoi was visit the Ho Chi Minh complex, which includes Ho Chi Minh’s Soviet-style mausoleum, the colonial presidential palace, the more modest houses where “Uncle Ho” actually lived, and a bizarre “museum” dedicated more to the advancement of communism and the symbol of Ho Chi Minh than the elucidation of the facts of his life or any sense of history rooted in reality.
|On a Saturday morning, the line to get into the mausoleum was over a kilometer long.
The crowds weren’t foreign tourists but rather enthusiastic Vietnamese. Given the heat
and our limited time, we decided to pass on going inside.
|Yellow is the traditional color of royal power. Accordingly, when the French built the
presidential palace, they painted it yellow to assert their sovereignty.
|Claiming to be a humble man of the people, HCM did not live in the palace
but rather an electrician’s cottage on the grounds.
|Eventually the Party built him this house on stilts, reminiscent of his origins in the mountains.
The house was really lovely, very simple and all of beautiful wood. I’d take it!
|This building is a Soviet architect’s take on the lotus flower.|
|This room doesn’t capture the whole effect.
Think “Apotheosis of Ho Chi Minh”.
|Some of the exhibits were close to what you might expect to see in a museum.
For example, this bicycle loaded with foodstuffs was used during the war.
|Other exhibits were heavy-handed in their symbolism. This one was a “volcano” representing
the explosive ideas of Communism and the people’s revolution.
|Some exhibits, like this one, seemed to move beyond symbolism to the cosmic.
I kept looking around for Dan Brown novels.