A house that preserves the last moments of President Ho Chi Minh
VietNamNet Bridge – The wall calendar that ends on September 2, a small clock that stops at 9.47am, an open book of history. These are the keepsakes that have been preserved for nearly 50 years in the Presidential Palace in Hanoi.
There are three houses in the Presidential Palace that were attached to the life of President Ho Chi Minh: house No. 54, house No. 67 and house on stilts. President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked in house No. 54 for four years (from December 1954 through May 1958). This house has three rooms, including a work room, dining room, and bedroom.
On the left side of this house is a small garage exhibiting four cars that were used by President Ho Chi Minh.
The Xoai (Mango) Road, of 5 meters wide and 200 meters long with ancient mango trees along the road, leads to the stilt house.
The initial design had three rooms, including a toilet. But President Ho wanted the house to remain faithful to the real thing. "The stilt-house must have only one or two rooms, small rooms at that, and definitely no toilet," he said. The architect amended the designs, and the stilt-house that Ho Chi Minh moved into on May 17, 1958, had two rooms of just 10sq.m each. He lived and worked there for the remaining 11 years of his life.
The ground floor is where President Ho used to hold meetings with the Politburo. The second floor has two small rooms where he worked, and the bedroom with simple home appliances. In the front of the house, there is a fish pond fed by President Ho and on the bank of a pond, a variety of orchids bloom year around.
At the back is a garden of fruit trees, where the luxuriant milk fruit tree donated to Uncle Ho by his southern compatriots in 1954 stands between two lines of Hai Hung orange trees. Other valuable trees belonging to more than 30 species supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Forestry, and several provinces represent the wide variety of trees growing in Viet Nam. There are also trees imported from other countries, such as Ngan Hoa trees, miniature rose bushes, areca trees from the Caribbean, Buddhist bamboo trees. Dozens of varieties of beautiful fruit and flowers hang from the trees which blossom all year round.
Today, the stilt-house and its furnishings have been preserved as they were in the 1960s. In the area under the house, Ho Chi Minh would receive visitors and meet members of the Political Bureau. In the centre of the floor is a long table, with wooden and bamboo chairs around it. Uncle Ho used a rattan armchair in the left-hand corner to sit and read, or rest. In another corner are three telephones that he used to talk to the Political Bureau, the Operations Department and others, and a steel helmet that he wore during the years of the American War.
In the right-hand corner, he kept an aquarium with goldfish to amuse visiting children. The two rooms of the stilt-house are sparsely furnished. One, the bedroom, contains only a bed and wardrobe. The other, the study, houses a table, chair and bookshelf. His appliances were just the bare necessities: a palm-leaf fan, a brown paper fan, a bamboo mosquito catcher, a little thermos-flask, a bottle of water, a radio-set given by Vietnamese nationals in Thailand, and a small electric fan - a gift from the Communist Party of Japan.
A little brass bell used to hang on the door. In the stilt-house, Uncle Ho received top cadres, children and his close friends. He spent most of his time writing letters, revolutionary articles encouraging "good people, good deeds," and documents of great historical value on important political tasks such as his 1966 Call against US Imperialism for National Salvation. Plants and trees were grown in the area around the stilt-house, as Uncle Ho was a poet with a great love for nature and pet animals.
The garden is bordered with hibiscus, and the gate of climbing plants is typical of rural Viet Nam. The front garden is decorated with little bushes of fragrant jasmine and eglantines, while at the rear is a stand of star-fruit trees from the country's south. Spring sends the garden into a colorful riot of mangoes, white blossoms, and orchids. Uncle Ho regularly practiced martial arts and tai chi with the guards in the garden, which was also the place where he once conducted people singing the famous song Unity, like a real orchestra conductor. In front of the stilt-house is his fish-pond, teeming with fish that he fed with great care. He only had to clap his hands and they came in shoals for food. The house clearly reveals his humility, his erudition and his love of simplicity and nature.
The house No. 67 is located behind the stilt house. It was built in 1967, with 60cm thick walls and over a meter thick ceiling made of reinforced concrete. This was where President Ho Chi Minh met with Politburo members from 1967 to1969. It was also the house where the President was treated and passed away.
The wall calendar endson September 2, the day President Ho passed away.
The small clock shows the moment when he passed away: 9.47am.
The healing room for President Ho Chi Minh City from 24/8 to 2/9/1969. The room was equipped with the most modern machines at the time. The room was opened to visitors in 2009, on the occasion of the 40th death anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh.
Compiled by Pha Le