6 December 2001
Went to see Uncle Ho today, “where he lives now”, ie in his mausoleum. I think I may now have the full set of pickled Communist leaders: Lenin, Mao and now Ho Chi Minh. (No disrespect to Sukhbaatar in Mongolia but I don’t think he’s in the same league as Lenin, Mao and Uncle Ho.) Three top mausoleums in less than six weeks – not bad going, is it? The set-up for seeing Uncle Ho was the same as for Mao and Lenin: no cameras or luggage and file through rapidly and respectfully silently. The mausoleum is by “Ho Chi Minh’s Relic Area”. This includes the “President’s Palace”, a grand Colonial-era building that was Ho Chi Minh’s workplace and official home, with, in the grounds, a simple wooden house on stilts. That’s where, so the story goes, Ho Chi Minh actually lived: “A symbol of his simplicity and gentleness,” according to the leaflet.
The Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution was rather entertaining: lots of iconic, stirring pictures and statues of people with their arms thrust out in that Lenin/Hitler-ish way. Other exhibits included: “Letters sent by some people in (whatever) province to Ho Chi Minh”, a cooking pot used by some woman to cook up medical herbs for him, and a bugle used to rally combatants during some uprising or another. If I was less of a pleb I might have understood the significance of these items but I’m a clueless ignoramus, so I didn’t.