Ho Chi Minh, venerable leader of Vietnam in the 40s, 50s and 60s, is embalmed, lying in state at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.
I thought I was clothed respectfully enough in my summer dress, but my sleeveless arms were offensive. I was ushered off to buy a cheap scarf to cover up. When I got back in the queue, it moved at a fairly good pace, winding round the block until I stepped into the mausoleum itself. It was heavily air-conditioned. You’re not allowed to put your hands in your pockets. No talking, no mobile phones, no cameras, no hats, no daypacks.
Uncle Ho was lying in a glass box, like a waxwork laid down for the night. You can see up his nostrils when you’re standing at his feet. Do you know that the body is sent to Russia every September for upkeep ? It’s a bit disturbing, looking at a corpse of man who died 4½ decades ago. However, any unsettledness is eased quickly. It takes less than half a minute to walk around before you exit.
You can then drop by next door and see Uncle Ho’s lurid yellow palace (no entry) and check out his car collection, both of which sit adjacent to a well-tended lake.
I don’t think I’m inspired to do a world tour of embalmed dead leaders. For the record, I believe the socialists in glass cases are Lenin, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Kim Jong Il, Ferdinand Marcos, Eva Peron … and more recently Chavez.
~ Spotted Cow