25.03.2008 - 16.04.2008 31 °C
For me the iconic image: dense two-wheeled traffic.
Queues outside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. They move very rapidly.
On another day, no queues. It was closed.
Schoolchildren in front of the Bahnar house at the Ethnology Museum.
The water puppet theatre.
One scene at the water puppet show depicts the restoration of the sword. Hồ Hoàn Kiếm means the lake of the restored sword. Lê Lợi used a magic sword called Heaven's Will in his sucessful revolt against the Ming Chinese. Like Bilbo's dagger, it gave him great power. While he was boating on the lake, some time after the revolt ended in 1427, a golden turtle took the sword from his belt and dived back under the water. Lê Lợi then renamed the lake in honour of the event. The Turtle Tower has something to do with this legend.
Apparently turtles still live in the lake. An impressive specimen of rafetus leloii is displayed at the Ngoc Son temple. It's a surprise that anything can live in the water, which is bright green.
On the left of the Turtle Tower is Ngoc Son temple. It honours general Tran Hung Dao and a couple of scholars. Tran Dung Hao has a claim to being one of the greatest generals in history (as does Vo Nguyen Giap, hero of the most recent wars of independence). He beat the mighty Mongol army in the time of Kublai Khan. There is always an image of the person or people being honoured. People worship them. I don't know who this guy is, though. A protective spirit, I suppose.
Hoàn Kiếm is a refuge from the fug of the inner city. In the early morning Hanoians go there to exercise (I emphasise that this is hearsay). A lot of people also use the place to meet up and chat.
Silks on sale in the Old Quarter.
Cyclos are broader in Hanoi than elsewhere. Some broad people travel in them.
The Temple of Literature, a university as old as Bologna's.
You see a lot of vendors in Hanoi, as elsewhere in Vietnam. If on foot, they are invariably female and conically hatted. They carry their burdens hanging from a rod across the shoulder. Sometimes they shoulder extraordinary loads, and when they do, they move their limbs in an exaggerated and rhythmic manner, like the Tracy brothers.
Finally, some shots taken around Hồ Tay, west lake, a large lake to the north of the Old Quarter. There is some very expensive real estate on the east and north sides; Sofitel have a hotel there.
Half way up the east side there is a pagoda called Tran Quoc.
Lots of families and couples come to stroll of an evening. Others come to drink or fish.
You can rent pedalos. Like everywhere else in Vietnam, there is a lot of construction work around the lake.
Vendors sell balloons, windmills and carvings.
It is altogether a pleasant spot.