Friday, April 27, 2007

Lake of the Returned Sword

Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Returned Sword was once a part of the Red river (song Hong). Through thousands of years of changes in the geography, the lake moved eastward to its present position many kilometers from the river. The lake was once called Luc Thuy or Green Water because the water was green year round. In the fifteen century, the lake was named Ho Hoan Kiem, based of a legend that is quite similar to King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake's legend.

Hoan Kiem Lake is to Hanoi what Central Park is to New York City. It is a focal point for people to meet and what makes the city such a joy to live in. Early morning is best for a visit as Hanoians come out early to jog, do traditional stretching excercises and play badminton of all things. The name of the lake means Lake of the Returned Sword and comes from the legend about such a magical instrument given the local Emperor to drive the Chinese out of Vietnam. After the war, a giant golden tortoise snatched the sword from him while he was out fishing and took it to the depths of the beautiful lake. Thap Rua or the Tortoise Tower lays scenically on a center island of the lake, making for more reflection photos.

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