Since arriving in Vietnam one face in particular has been seen again and again.
He is on the money (all of it), on posters and walls, he’s got a museum in every city, including the one named after him.
He spoke English, German, French, Mandarin and of course Vietnamese.
He also famously told the French
“You can kill ten of my men, for every one I kill of yours, but even at those odds you will lose and I will win”
Any guess on who I am talking about?
General Giap you say?
Very deserving but no. I am of course talking about….
Uncle Ho (Bac Ho) – a simple man with simple tastes with a HUGE cult of personality. Born near Vinh in Central Vietnam, he was educated in Hue before heading overseas as a cook’s apprentice on a French Ship.
Not only did he help found the Vietnamese Communist Movement but he was a founder member of the French Communist Party in 1920. He spent time in Jail in Hong Kong as well as visiting Chairman Mao and Uncle Joe.
He died in 1969, not able to see the North’s victory over the South.
We arrived early at his Mausoleum, as it was the weekend, and were stunned. The queue was longer than the ones for Ticketmaster in Merchant’s Quay (Cork Reference there!).
Groups of Communist children had arrived bearing wreaths for Uncle Ho, and were escorted to the top of the queue by soldiers in snowy white uniforms with matching gloves that would not look out of place at the Edinburgh Tattoo.
As the queue snaked round we couldn’t take photos as we had to surrender our camera. We shuffled along in almost total silence as the guards were quick to pounce on anyone giggling or talking loudly – which was everyone else!
Eventually we entered the Concrete edifice of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and begun the pilgrimage. It was over before it began. No stopping to give praise, just looking and bowing.
He was looking well in fairness. Due to lack of photographic permission I can’t share with you. Just imagine a real untidy Dr. No or something similar to Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung.
The one odd thing (it was all odd!) was that he had a green complexion. This is apparently due to the fact that what we saw was a wax-work. His real body is kept in a separate crypt underneath.
So yeah a green Shang Tsung is an accurate description
This was Karen’s second pilgrimage and only because I dragged her. Hopefully she will have more enthusiasm for Mao’s Mausoleum in Beijing.
We went into the Ho Chi Minh Museum afterwards and got some interesting photos. Located in a soviet-style building it was a monument dedicated to his life.
A short distance away is Lenin Park with a huge statue of Vladimir Ilyich himself. Standing proud and keeping watch over one of his protege.