Spent too many days in a cold and gray Hanoi, but we got to see a very random water puppet show, tried Vietnamese food, accidently attended some nice performances in the temple of literature, spent a lot of time walking around, and got to see some serious money supported god worshipping. The temples in Vietnam were filled with money, in the hands of praying people and on plates in front of the god statues. There were even special checks for people who wanted to donate bigger sums and they would come forward to the statues, stroke their feet with these checks, stroke their face and hair with the same piece of paper and then leave it for the teple workers to come with big baskets to pick it all up later and make space for more banknotes. Strange.
Stranger even was the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The apparently very humble national hero who in his will wrote that he wanted his ashes to be spread across the country and a school built in his name – got the will changed by the party, and specialized russians flown in to build a very pompous mausoleum in his honour. We went there early in the morning (which is the only time it’s open) and were directed like sheep in long detours around the building to finally enter, in a perfect line and in pairs – dead silent, slowly, ordered.. it was all quite obnoxious honestly, I felt like I was being brainwashed by forced authority and the entire process, the very serious guards took my camera away, treated me coldly, attempting very hard to make me feel small, correcting the way I stand and instructing me to take my hands out of my jacket pockets. (!) And so we finally got in to see the dead man.. and it was a very bizarre experience. It was the corpse of a man who died in 1969, 79 years old.. and it looked as if he was just sleeping in a glass coffin, in a dim room, surrounded by four guards with their eyes closed. We were ushered forward by the guards as we had to walk in a steady pace, not stopping even for a second, around the coffin and out of the room again. We got out, got the daylight in our eyes, looked at each other and agreed that it had all been very weird.. “Yeah, let’s just get out of here.”