Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is given pride of place in Hanoi, surrounded by a giant square, presidential palaces, and parkland all blessedly free of motorbikes and scooters. This was the first embalmed revolutionary leader either of us had seen*, and it looked…just like a wax figure to be honest. Rather underwhelming from my perspective, and Uncle Ho would probably have agreed - he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes returned to his home village. Of course, he should have known that the State’s desires will prevail. Still, an intriguing sight, clearly a big event for the mostly Vietnamese processing through,
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was formerly called the The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government. The name has changed but the tenor remains the same. Broadly speaking, the first floor commemorates all of the people who protested the US presence in Vietnam, with special emphasis on acts of self-immolation, and some remarkable notes of apology from American servicemen. The second floor is dedicated to American atrocities generally, with a whole gallery focusing on Agent Orange effects, and another section on My Lai. The third floor is more about the
Reunification Palace in HCMC.
In a very tranquil setting, surrounded by rows of tea bushes stretching up into the hills, the China National Tea Museum just outside Hangzhou has a crazy amount of info and exhibits about the varieties, preparation, history and culture of tea in China.
China. From China. In China.
Other highlights from the Shanghai Museum: coins of all sorts of shapes and sizes; funky Tibetan masks; wonderfully intricate bronzewares.
The Shanghai Museum has many interesting exhibits, but what particularly jumped out at us was the crazy sophistication of some of the older pieces - not one of the above pieces of jade and pottery is less than 4,000 years old, and some (the pottery flask in the top left, the jade dragon in the middle left) are around 6,000 years old.
Lokapalas, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from the Shanghai Museum.
Zodiac statues at the National Folk Museum of Korea.
The Edo-Tokyo museum’s exhibits include a statue of the original Shogun, Ieyasu, and some cool samurai armour and kimonos. While the section on post-war Tokyo was disappointingly brief, it did start (definitively so) with the Instrument of Surrender, signed on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. And quite clearly the Canadian representative cocked the whole thing up, signing on the wrong line, and forcing everyone else below him on the pecking order to sign in the wrong place too, and scribble corrections all over the place. Good thing it wasn’t one of the most important documents of the 20th century.