Ho Chi is to Vietnam what Lenin is to Russia. Indeed, just like the Russian revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh has been preserved with chemicals and lies in state in a purpose built mausoleum in the Vietnamese capital.
An irony then that to coincide with my visit to Hanoi in November 1998, the Great Minh had been transported from his resting place to Moscow where he was undergoing restoration work to stop him cracking under the strain of all those curious eyes.
The father of the Revolution and hero leader who defied the might of the US, died in 1969 and wanted a simple cremation. However the People had other ideas and the mausoleum was constructed from material gathered from all over Vietnam between 1973-1975.
Ho Chi now usually lies serenely in a glass sarcophagus and thousands of visitors queue up every year to see all that remains of the great communist commander of the Viet Cong.
Resembling a Greek temple atop concrete blocks, it seemed to me that the Vietnamese wanted a building that would not outshine its sole inhabitant rather than going for some lavish burial chamber befitting of such venerable presence.
I doubt that I shall ever return to witness the interior.
On another day we went past the mausoleum and it was raining heavily, when I saw this lady carrying on about her business.