Friday, 17 June 2016

The 15 Day trip to Vietnam - The Mandarin Route - Day 9 (morning cont. and afternoon) - Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum (interior); the Museum of Ethnology - The 26th of May 2016

We had to queue up for quite a while prior to entering Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum because the amount of people waiting to see the resting place of Ho CHi Minh was huge. They were mostly Vietnamese and a couple of odd foreign groups like ours. We were not allowed to bring in any cameras, but once mobile phones and picture taking were up  a few metres before the main entrance I decided to take some.

As we were solemnly walking the steps that led to the rather sombre room where Ho Chi Minh rests a Vietnamese lady grabbed my hand, I presume believing it was her husband's, and squeezed it hard as we walked around the actual mausoleum visibly moved by the sight. It wasn't but a fleeting emotional moment  but it clearly showed me how important "He" must have been in the changing of the Vietnamese peoples' lives and still is.

Outside the Mausoleum very different groups of visitors gathered, from school children to young female monks, all of whom seemed to want to take photos with and in front of the Mausoleum.

Lunch was, as always, a special moment that reinforced our taste for the Vietnamese cuisine, we had easily adapted to.

The afternoon was almost entirely spent at the Museum of Ethnology which displays examples of ethnic minority peoples' housing on its extensive grounds, which is where our visit started.

From the typical house of the Hani people, which looked rather simple in its conceptual approach, though animals were entitled to a house of their own with basically the same architectural features, we walked further onto the Hmong's along the typical water canals and fields we would come across in the regions inhabited by them.

Entirely made of pomu wood, a tree which is characteristic of the the forest regions in De Cho Chua village the traditional Hmong House is covered  with large shingles, some of which can be moved to make light for the women who weave inside the house.

In its interior there is a column that separates the room from the central hearth which is where the spirit is believed to reside.  Corn, rice and house comodities are stored in the upstairs loft. Outside its grounds we came across a forge and a stable.

We then made our way towards an elaborately carved tomb built by the Jarai Arap men from the Mrong Ngo village. It can accommodate up to thirty dead. The external statues of men and women showing their "private" parts and pregnant women simbolize fertility and birth. The wooden roof is covered in plaited bamboo planks, on which designs of the tomb abandoning ritual were painted in natural red pigments.

It is thought that the tomb house is intended for the dead in the after-life. Broken dishes, bottles, cups, trays and any other useful tools are therefore put inside the tomb so as to provide necessities for the deceased in their other world.

Across it stood the Central Highland ethnic communal house (nha rong) with its steep pitched roof. Some of us made it to the top by climbing the rather complicated steep stairway.

From it we walked into the Central Highlands Ede Kba long house standing on one metre high stillts. Oriented in the North-South direction, the North being where the main entrance is as in accordance with the Ede tradition.

Extended matrilineal families traditionally lived in this type of long houses. The more people who lived in a house, the longer it was. The rather original staircase is said to have been carved from one single large wooden plank.

Fairly close to these we came across an exhibit on Water Puppet Theatre (which we would later be given an opportunity to watch live) before we made it to the main Museum premises.

Viet house

It started raining so heavily that by the time we had walked into the main entrance we were all soaked wet.

We didn't have the necessary time to thoroughly walk around the Museum floors with numerous galeries, so I ventured onto the ground floor where objects related to the hat boi (traditional singing performances) and ritual wooden dolls therewith associated were on display together with a temporary exibition on Australian native Art.

I didn't venture onto the first floor, which I regret because it exhibited traditional clothing (which I love) and instruments of all kinds. I decided to go across the boutique instead where I ended up buying two pairs of tribal Hmong earrings and a necklace, as well as a doll in traditional clothing for my collection.

I felt we would have needed a lot more time to visit the Museum ensemble, which also included a library but the tight visit scheduling didn't allow it.

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