Friday, August 15, 2008

13th Aug.

One of the more notable places of interest in Hanoi is the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum so we thought that would make an interesting trip. Being the distance it is from where we were staying we consulted the lonely planet bible for the plan to catch a taxi and their list of reputable taxis. Given that none of compaies on the list we had seen before we decided to walk in the general direction. I'm glad we did as we found beautiful tree lined steet along the way whick was so different to the ones we were used to seeing.

By the time we got there it was just after 10 which left us 45 mins to visit. First we needed to check all bags and water but we had to take our camera and phones with us. Then we had to follow a bee line to security where we had to walk through metal detectors and get what stuff we had with us x-rayed. Everything that was x-rayed was put into special red bag with some engrish written on it. Once we had cleared that check point there was another bee line to check-in our cameras from our little red handbags, which we were told we could collect from the exit of the mausoleum.

One more bee line and were entering the mausoleum with guards in white every 5 metres, making sure no one was disrespecting the man by wearing hats or sun glasses, laughing or talking too loud or stepping off the red rubber "carpet".

Inside was incredible. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees as soon as you get the door and the light was very low and reverant. Every where you looked was beautiful, absolutely spotlessly clean marble and granite in sharp, angular and somewhat modern design for it's period. The guards made sure no one stalled and kept people moving if they we too slow by grabbing your elbow and giving you a push or a pull. The main chamber where Ho Chi Minh is kept was really surreal. Very dark with his body in a glass sarcophagus on top of a high mable ledge, with guards below in all four corners in a moat without warer for lack of a better description. He was lit in soft yellow light, I'm guessing as some attempt to give his skin a more natural colour, yet he still looked like he was carved out of soap due to the enbalming and at the same time it looked like this guy was lying there asleep. Very bizarre! (By the way he was enbalmed against his burial wishes. He wanted to be cremated. I guess they figured there was no point fearing the wrath of a dead guy.)

After exiting the mausoleum, there was a pickup booth for our camera's, and we were able to visit the presidential palace (see pic coming of a yellow french looking building.) I think it was called were he lived and worked for a period as well as his stilly house which was really beautiful house finished almost entirely in dark varnished wood. (No pics cos the iPhone camera is a piece of crap, especially in poor light)

Oh and they had a garage showing all his cars. He had a Peugeot 404 like yours dad, except a sedan, not a wagon. =]

More coming very shortly.

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