It was a 90 minute line for a 5.4 second viewing. You guessed it, we went to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh today.
Our bus pulls along side 49 other tourist buses. Our driver tells us it’s a simple 15 wait in line to see Ho Chi Minh. Yes, he died back in 1969 but with Russian techniques they have preserved his body for the world to see.
The line looks like a ride at Disneyworld and slower than a slug with a threat of salt. At times, the line stops and a bunch of adorable in uniforms school kids pulling each others shirts instead of holding hands goes past and the line complete stops for several minutes. But what the heck, who is going to going to get upset with a bunch of cute pre-schoolers. And then the line slows moves again. More minutes tick away that I’ll never get back. More cute school kids. I wave. Finally, we pass the the security and dress code check. No cell phones, no bare knees, no bare shoulders.
Thirty minutes of life is now gone. I still haven’t even seen the outside of the Mausoleum yet. More adorable little school kids. The line comes to a halt.
And then more kids. They are no longer cute.
Another security stand. If you haven’t turned in your cell phone or camera this is the final call.
Forty minutes. Finally, I can see the Mausoleum More darn kids. Where in the heck are they coming from???
An hour. Getting close. More checks by guards. Time to take off the sunglasses; hands out of pockets and stop talking. I am given the universal don’t talk sign. I get it.
Finally, the stairs inside. More guards. And then, the horseshoe around Uncle Ho’s body. Guards every two feet. With white gloved hands, they touch the back our my arm; go faster. What?? After crawling through this line at a banana slug pace I know have to pick it up? I’m touched again. I step a bit faster, but not fast enough, another guard encourages me to hustle as I reach the feet of Ho Chi Minh. He looks ….well….dead.
The whole experience of walking around the body takes less than 6 seconds. I timed it. I can’t even tell you what the casket looks like nor the interior of that building; nothing. I was too busy being touched by Communist white gloved honor guards. I’ve heard that jail in this area is similar to North Korea.
I keep moving.
After that experience, we saw a few more museums, temples and then visited the Hanoi Hilton. If you come to this town; you can skip this. Most of the prison is gone, the artifacts and the American prisoners are shown decorating a Christmas tree and playing basketball. Just a bunch of Propaganda.
If that isn’t enough, we went to a water puppet show, walked old town and then had dinner at a Beer and BBQ place. To our credit, we were the only Westerns at dinner.
Today we were tourists. Tomorrow, we will return to being a traveler.
And I won’t be visitng Ho Chi Minh body anytime soon. I’m sure he’ll still be dead.