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Vietnam Discovery
 Uncle Ho’s home draws big crowds

     HA NOI — The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and residence in the Presidential Palace in Ha Noi draw thousands of visitors every day, who want to pay their respects to the country’s most important figure.

     In a survey of 1,000 visitors, 90 per cent say they want to come back again to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and residence, according to the Mausoleum Management Board.
     Hiroaki Takahashi and his colleagues, for example, travelled to Viet Nam from Japan and chose the mausoleum as their first destination.
     "We have heard many things about your great leader in Japan; all are bursting to learn about his life and personality, when we have an opportunity to travel to Viet Nam," he said. "Certainly no visit to Ha Noi is complete without a visit to Uncle Ho’s mausoleum."
     Located at Ba Dinh Square, the structure is a large memorial to the Vietnamese leader. This is where the late leader’s body is preserved through an elaborate embalming process, despite his personal wish to have been cremated.
     In his will, Ho Chi Minh clearly stated his desire to have his ashes buried in the hills of the north, centre, and south of Viet Nam. He said that he liked cremation because it was "more hygienic than burial."
     However, the government built the mausoleum for people to visit and pay their respects.
     Visitors walk through a long corridor to reach the mausoleum. They self-consciously queue up and keep silent, a silence further promoted by the many guards keeping a watchful eye on them along the way. They walk reverently to the mausoleum.
     Inside, a quotation inscribed in gold on the foyer’s red marble reads, "There Is Nothing More Precious than Independence and Freedom."
     The president’s body is on display in a large room under soft lights. Four army guards stand around him. People walk in a circle around the glass coffin, before exiting. Many visitors so moved they cannot even hold back their tears, when they behold the great leader.
     "We were really moved. Uncle Ho looks very peaceful and serene; his eyes are closed, as if in deep slumber," Takahashi said.
     As soon as the president passed away, the government decided to preserve his office and residential area at the Presidential Palace, where he lived and worked for 15 years.
No time for luxury
     When the president took his appointment, he refused to live in the luxury hous, where the governor-general of Indochina stayed. Ho Chi Minh designed for himself a simple and plain wooden house on stilts. The living quarters have not only historical value, but also represent the country’s architectural heritage.
     President Ho often worked in the first floor during the summer. He received guests, especially children, on a weekly basis in the space containing an aquarium and many benches for visitors to sit around him.
     Visitors can go upstairs to visit his bedroom and workroom on the second floor, and can see many of his personal possessions such as books, a fan, a mat and a typewriter.
     A 3,300sq.m fish pond is also an attraction for visitors. While the country was rebuilding itself after the war, the president raised fish in the pond to supplement meals for himself and his officers. He also presented small fish to farmers for their fish farms. President Ho clapped his hands everyday to calling the fishes. Now, the tradition remains. When hearing a claps from visitors, hundreds of fishes still float up to the water’s surface, as is their habit.
     "Following the example of our tour guide, we summon the fishes by clapping our hands. And lo and behold, the fishes started to slowly but surely come; it was amazing," visitor Takahashi says, adding, "Uncle Ho really trained his fishes well."
     The 7-ha grounds are covered by various gardens containing 232 rare and valuable species including fruit trees, souvenir trees, ornamental plants and perennial plants, according to the management board’s estimates.
     Visitors walk along a road lined with mango trees to reach the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The president used to walk along this road every morning. The museum has on display many objects and documents reflecting different periods in the revolutionary life of the leader.
     Thousands of original documents are part of treasures remaining for people to be able to understand revolutionary life of the president.
     The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the presidential grounds are a special place, where people come to visit but also to remember the great leader and learn about his lofty personality.
New era opened
     To open his Declaration of Independence in Ha Noi on September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh began, "All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." With this, he opened a new era for the nation.
     The complex is open to the public every morning except on Monday and Friday, and has welcomed over 40 million visitors from around the country and abroad.

Source: Minh Thu - VNS

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