Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum


This section about the visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is much more words than pictures, for several reasons.  The biggest being that our tour guide took away all our cameras.  I am sure it was a government requirement. 

 Our tour guide was 29 years old.  He was born very near where my wife was born, well after Saigon government fell in 1975.  The night before we were supposed to go see Ho; my wife told him she was not feeling well and would not be able to go on that part of the tour tomorrow.   I cannot describe the look on our guides face.  He could not believe it.  She had a chance to go see Ho Chi Minh.  It was a lifetime opportunity; he could not believe anyone would not go even if their very life was in jeopardy.  He pleaded with her to go until she finally relented.  My brother-in-law was a different story.  He was in the South Vietnamese military.  Many of his friends had died fighting Ho’s soldiers.  He quietly and calmly said he was not going; and the look on his face cut off any possibility of discussion.

 The mausoleum itself was very much like what the USA tomb of the Unknown Soldier would be like if you were allowed inside.  The Soldiers and Police assigned there made sure everything was respectful.  No shorts of flip-flops allowed.  Women had to have their shoulders covered etc, etc.  It took us 2 hours to get inside and 1 minute to walk around the well preserved -behind the glass body of Ho. 

 We only waited 2 hours because our tour guide had paid to get into a VIP line.  There were at least 2 other “short” VIP lines and at least 4 other very long street lines that seemed to go on forever.  We drove by one of these other lines on the way out and there were thousands of people in line.  Their wait must have been at least 12 hours.  There were mostly families with small kids. It must have been a very long day.  I ask our guide and he said the lines were like this 365 days a year.  I have a hard time comprehending all that.  Ho has been dead for well over 40 years.  When he was alive, he always demanded the people support and die for the revolution he was leading, but he never to pushed for people idolize him personally.  Its kinda crazy. But I guess 40 years of teaching kids in school and TV indoctrination can achieve a lot.  From the Mausoleum we went to a building where Ho worked like a zillion years ago.  There was a long line to see the chair he sat in….. 

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© Jerry Pilson 2013