The symbolic heart of Hanoi is Hồ Hoàn Kiếm. Hoàn Kiếm Lake is where the great emperor Lê Lợi gave his sword to a turtle god.
It's also a lovely place to walk any time of day. You know, even if you don't have a sword.
(The tower in the center of the lake is called Turtle Tower, Thap Rùa, in honor of the god.)
A striking red laquered bridge called Thê Húc takes you to the Temple of the Jade Mountain.
Nice place for a photo op.
On the walls leading into the temple are carvings and murals depicting the story of the sword and the turtle.
Logan swore it was a paintbrush, but that would just be silly. Geez.
And inside the temple, you can see a taxidermied specimen of one of the enormous softshell turtles that still live in the lake. We were lucky enough to see a live one surface briefly along the shore - they're HUGE.
Think aquatic pony sized.
Keeping with the water theme, we also went to see some of Hanoi's famous puppetry. Unfortunately, the experience was dampened by our fellow tourists and their constant flash photography in the dark theater; if they weren't taking pictures, they were texting photos to friends with the brightness on their phone screens turned up to "blinding".
Sometimes I hate people. The music and the artistry of the production was pretty cool. Wonder how much a private show would be.
Goodbye, Hanoi, and your tasty treats and wet fun times! In the next post, Logan will talk about our well-supervised adventures in Ha Long Bay.