Friday, April 27, 2007

Ba Dinh Square 3

A blaze of white walls, modern-styled in the symbolic shape of a lotus, the Ho Chi Minh Museum is nearby on One Pillar Pagoda Street. The two main floors are filled with historical documents, photographs, memorabilia, and today, it seems, with half the school children of Hanoi; their excited chatter rises in the air, filling the cavernous exhibition halls. Not thinking, I snap a picture of a wattle and thatch replica of Ho Chi Minh's birthplace, drawing the immediate attention of a uniformed guard.

Like the interior of the mausoleum, photography is forbidden here, but I was distracted when I arrived by the attention paid by the cloakroom attendant to my compass and did not check my camera. A plastic bubble dangling on a key-chain attached to my bag, I find the compass an invaluable piece of equipment when traveling in countries where road signs are difficult to interpret, or in some cases, nonexistent. My chagrin is somewhat dampened when I see the exhibit containing Ho Chi Minh's compass. A World War II US Army issue, I think. By leaning close and squinting, I can make out the fine print on its dial: Wm. Gurley Co. Troy NY. Many of the exhibits have stands in front of them holding ringed flip charts that contain photographic, newspaper, and written accounts of the period portrayed.

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