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Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Ho’


There is a really unusual honor, tradition, trend in Communist and former Communist countries of laying out the mummified bodies of the leaders upon death. Russia has Lenin, China has Mao, North Korea has Kim Il Sung, and of course, Vietnam has Uncle Ho. What trip to Hanoi would be complete without witnessing this oddity, side show, waxy piece of mummified history?

I arrived early in the morning hoping to avoid long lines, and met a huge crowd already waiting. Luckily, the lines, while long, moved quickly.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the Mausoleum, but were able to explore the grounds, which included a museum, and the Presidential Palace (in yellow, above). It was a little creepy witnessing the body, which honestly looked far more like a wax dummy. Apparently, the body travels back to Moscow for a couple of months each year for “maintenance.” Viewers walk around the casket on three sides. and there are armed and bayoneted guards at each corner of the casket.

Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh never wanted to be mummified. He preferred to be cremated, and have his ashes scattered in Vietnam as a symbol of a unified country. I guess even atheist ideologies need their communist, god, saints to believe in.

Afterwards, I went to the Hanoi War Museum:

Feeling a little overwhelmed with war, history, and even propaganda, I decided I needed some cultural influences. My next stop was the Temple of Literature, a Confucius temple, and the first national university in Vietnam.

I ended the night with a performance at the Water Puppet Theatre, a night market, and some pho from a street vendor.

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