Determined to visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the father of communism in Vietnam, my family and I woke up early one morning and set out into the crazy Hanoi traffic to try to find him. As his mausoleum had very limited visitation hours – only a few hours each morning and a few days each week, we hurriedly walked through the pouring rain for over two kilometers before reaching the north gate of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. Unfortunately, the guards at this gate told us that we had to enter the complex from the opposite side, over a kilometer away. As it was fast approaching ten and entry closed at 10:15, we had to rush. Fortunately we made it just in time, and we were through the queue for security screening by 10:10. We were then marched two-by-two in groups of thirty from the security building to the mausoleum. While we were walking towards the granite building where Ho Chi Minh was being showcased, there were guards posted every ten meters, dressed in pure white uniforms – even wearing white gloves and white rain boots. When we reached the mausoleum, I noticed that the path leading up to it was a red carpet, with guards on each side, which I
found odd because I associate a red carpet with royalty. Inside the mausoleum, guards were posted on every corner, increasing in number as we neared the room where Ho Chi Minh was resting. This room was dimly lit, and many guards lined the walls, each holding a rifle with a bayonet. Ho Chi Minh was elevated on an island about 3 meters in height with four guards encircling the base. His hands and head were backlit, giving Ho Chi Minh an unearthly look. His skin showed no sign of deterioration, and it appeared that he was simply sleeping, not dead. Nearing the conclusion of our extremely short viewing of Ho Chi Minh, my mom noticed a nearly invisible screw poking out of his neck. When she stopped to look more closely, a guard aggressively told her to keep moving. In the end, we were only able to view Ho Chi Minh’s body for about thirty seconds, but I thought that that was more then enough time to stare at his embalmed corpse. Overall, I found the whole experience unnerving, the soldiers standing so still – like statues, with their eyes fixed on the walls behind us, and Ho Chi Minh in his eternal sleep.
Note: It is forbidden to take pictures in the mausoleum, and all cameras are confiscated on entry. Knowing this, we didn’t bring our camera and do not have pictures. The pictures here were taken from the internet.