A Morning Stroll Around Hoan Kiem Lake In Hanoi

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, October 6, 2014 | Published in

ADVERTISEMENT


On my second day in Hanoi, I woke up early to take a morning stroll around the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake Of The Restored Sword. 

 photo P1210254_zpsb6f03721.jpg

I actually woke up much earlier to have breakfast at my hotel. My friend from Kuala Lumpur would be arriving later in the morning to join me for the rest of my Hanoi trip. While waiting for his arrival, I went out to have a stroll around Old Quarter. 

I passed by Hapro Mart, one of the many local retail supermarkets in Hanoi.

 photo P1210236_zps2c1bf224.jpg

After my friend finally landed in Noi Bai International Airport and checked into the Rising Dragon Palace Hotel (by the way we stayed in different rooms in the same hotel because I told him I prefer to have the whole room to myself haha!), we walked over to Hoan Kiem Lake.

 photo P1210238_zps7c003c4a.jpg

As usual, it was difficult trying to cross this big junction but I was already getting the hang of it after some guidance from Son, my tour guide from Hanoikids, the day before. Read my tips on how to cross the chaotic road in Hanoi HERE.

 photo P1210240_zps2818956f.jpg

Familiar names like AIA, KFC and HSBC could be seen on this building in front of a small roundabout.

 photo P1210242_zpsce76e8f6.jpg

Many cafes were located at this multi-storey building overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake. If you have read one of my previous posts, you will know I was at Hanoi Soul Cafe with Son the evening before. Honestly, if I were to visit Hanoi again, I would not mind relaxing at one of these cafes with a good view of the lake.

 photo P1210243_zpscd23dfe7.jpg

I always thought the word 'Pho' refers to the Vietnamese noodles soup but I was wrong of course. 'Pho' also refers to street as in the case of this street signboard below. Although spelt the same, they are two totally different Vietnamese characters. The first is "phở" (pronounced as 'fuh' as in fur without the letter r) while the second one is "phố" (pronounced as 'foh' with an uptrailing accent).

 photo P1210244_zps992c5d83.jpg

We walked along Le Thai To road on the west side of the lake and passed by this restaurant by the lake.

 photo P1210245_zpsd7a31a5b.jpg

The weather was perfect for walking. Not hot, and neither was it too cold. Just pleasant.

 photo P1210247_zpsfae59c18.jpg

Look at the wide open space between the lake and the road! Perfect for jogging or group tai chi. In fact, there were many people exercising around this lake although I did not take pictures of them.

 photo P1210248_zpsf4314582.jpg

I could not help admiring this scene below of a couple sitting on a bench overlooking the lake. Looks kinda romantic, no?

 photo P1210249_zps8a2c7df0.jpg

I think I can even do some meditation sitting by the lake.  So peaceful and tranquil.

 photo P1210250_zpsdf8eb3a7.jpg

Not sure what building this is, but it looks nice!

 photo P1210251_zps15a80afa.jpg

Further down Le Thai To road, we passed by Luc Thuy restaurant. Many people were having breakfast at the open air area.

 photo P1210252_zps147d03cc.jpg

In the middle of the southern part of Hoan Kiem Lake is a small island where a three-tiered structure stands. This structure is known as Thap Rua or Tortoise Tower.

 photo P1210253_zpsf93be8ae.jpg

How did it get the name Tortoise Tower? Perhaps there were many tortoises living in this lake and they would gather at this small island.

 photo P1210255_zps65120438.jpg

Then again, the name Tortoise Tower could somehow be connected to a legend surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake. According to the legend, Emperor Le Thai To was handed a magic sword by a divine tortoise living in the lake in the 15th century. This sword had helped the Emperor fend off the Chinese invaders.

 photo P1210257_zpsac59e918.jpg

However, after the country achieved its independence, the tortoise snatched back the sword and disappeared into the lake. Efforts were made to locate the sword and the tortoise but to no avail. The Emperor then acknowledged that the sword had gone back to the divine tortoise and renamed the lake  Hoan Kiem Lake or The Lake Of The Restored Sword.

 photo P1210260_zps6d54c4c8.jpg

According to Son, my tour guide from Hanoikids, there are in fact, still many tortoises living inside the lake. I would love to explore the Tortoise Tower but of course, there is no way to reach it unless I swim across!

 photo P1210262_zpsce8e7935.jpg

It appears that Hoan Kiem Lake was once part of the Red River and a deep swamp, until the French drained the land in the 19th century.

 photo P1210263_zpse1029911.jpg

My friend and I took many photos of Hoan Kiem Lake that day. It was simply too beautiful not to.

 photo P1210265_zps8a89c461.jpg

We continued to walk and reached the eastern side of the lake.

 photo P1210277_zps3d7d9316.jpg

We passed by Hanoi Central Post Office (Buu Dien Hanoi).

 photo P1210275_zpsbfe20773.jpg

Nice looking building with a clock at the top.

 photo P1210278_zps86095436.jpg

Nearby the post office is the Ly Thai To Park, formerly Indira Gandhi Park. The former name was in remembrance of the 1984 assassination of India's Prime Minister who was a huge supporter of Vietnam.

 photo P1210279_zpscaa5a100.jpg

Now it is known as Ly Thai To Park in honour of the first emperor of the Ly Dynasty, Ly Thai To. (not to be confused with Emperor Le Thai To who was handed the magic sword by the divine tortoise in the 15th century).

A tall statue of Ly Thai To stands in the middle of the park. I guess he deserves much respect as he is the one who moved the capital in the year 1010 to Thang Long, near present-day Hanoi, which resulted in the founding of Hanoi as the capital city of Vietnam.

 photo P1210280_zps938a4298.jpg

There were not many people at the park that morning. I guess more people would come out only in the evening as I had experienced the evening before.

I took a picture of VietinBank beside the park. It's a famous bank in Hanoi and is a state-owned Vietnamese bank.

 photo P1210274_zps7219f1da.jpg

Walking along Dinh Tien Hoang road on the eastern part of the lake, I continued to take pictures of the Tortoise Tower and the lake itself.

 photo P1210282_zps008de312.jpg

It would be nice to walk along this road during the evening and see those interesting looking street lights lighted up.

 photo P1210283_zps6696ca7f.jpg

As we continued walking around the lake, we saw in the distance, a red coloured bridge.

 photo P1210285_zpsbded014a.jpg

Could not help taking this picture of the red bridge with the lady standing by the lake presumably doing some tai chi exercises.

 photo P1210286_zps96b853ff.jpg

A beautiful reflection on the water. So, so serene. If the Old Quarter feels chaotic to you,  all you ever need to do is to take a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake and you will enjoy some peace!

 photo P1210288_zpse49b8bfe.jpg

The bridge leads to a temple, known as Ngoc Son Temple, located on a small island in the middle of the northern part of the lake. There is a small entrance fee to enter the temple. My friend and I visited the temple that morning, but I shall blog about it in another post.

 photo P1210289_zpsf442a4b2.jpg

As we got nearer to the red bridge, we could see many people walking on it.

 photo P1210290_zps4ae78ad5.jpg

We were not the only ones taking photos of the lake of course. Many others, especially tourists, were seen busy doing the same. Who wouldn't with such a beautiful scenery in front of you?

 photo P1210328_zps88e172df.jpg

I love this reflection of the arched bridge. I did not think my photo completely captured the mood. But to be honest, I was spellbound!

 photo P1210332_zps80ca8c8b.jpg

The red-lacquered wooden arched bridge leading to the temple is known as Huc or the Rising Sun Bridge.

 photo P1210333_zps917b937d.jpg

After having visited the temple (story in the next post), we dropped by the nearby Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (Mua Roi Nuoc Thang Long) to buy tickets for the evening's performance.

 photo P1210335_zpsce17776c.jpg

My friend was not too keen to watch the water puppet performance, but I was not going to miss it for the world! How could one visit Hanoi and not watch the famous water puppets?!

 photo P1210338_zpsaa3c0815.jpg

Took a couple of pictures of the tram cars (not sure if that's what they are called) parked near Hoan Kiem Lake. I wondered what those tram cars were for. Any Vietnamese reading this knows?

 photo P1210339_zpsff27fbb6.jpg

Then I saw what looked like a gigantic book being displayed by the lake. It marks the millennial anniversary of Hanoi which was celebrated back in 2010. As mentioned earlier, Emperor Ly Thai To had moved the capital to Thang Long in the year 1010, so the year 2010 would mark the 1,000th anniversary of this historical event.

 photo P1210337_zps12db21eb.jpg

If I were to visit Hanoi again, I would definitely take another stroll around this beautiful, picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake.