The Viet Nam military museum in Hanoi is close to Uncle Ho’s mausoleum. After the clash of austerity and frivolity that is the mausoleum, the military museum is much simpler and smacks you right in the guts.
Guns, wreckage from downed B52s, SAMs, tanks, dioramas, plenty of supportive propaganda from socialist parties from around the globe and kids having their photos taken. There are guns and jagged metallic things to take pictures of if so inclined, but the really grim exhibits are the flight suits and dented helmets recovered from downed B52 and F111 pilots, during the Hanoi bombing campaigns.
Outside, away from the crowds you can get a bit of peace next to Hanoi’s old Citadel. There was a wedding there when we visited and at one point a young girl accidentally let go of a single red helium balloon. Off it went into the grey sky floating high above the museum whilst everyone was ducking in and out of the old fighters and helicopters.
It would have been a really good photograph, poignant: a single red balloon, high in the sky, juxtaposed against the wreck of a bullet ridden Chinook helicopter. I didn’t take it.