Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The turtles of Hoai Kiem Lake

My friends here first brought me to this coffee shop at the top of a building.  It had a good view of the lake and pagonda.

Here's my shot of the lake again.  I had a panoramic shot, but in my brilliance, I accidentally deleted it off my iPhone.

There is a recurrent myth associated with this lake.  It largely is connected to the turtles of the lake.  In the fifteenth century, a  Lê Lợi became emperor of Vietnam.  Supposedly, he had this sword, which was taken by a turtle back into the lake.  It's the reason why they call it in English, "The Lake of the Returned Sword."  As least this is what I got out of Wikipedia.  There is a temple on the lake called the "Temple of the Jade Mountain."  

The Entrance to the place called in Vietnamese,  Đền Ngọc Sơn, is rather ornate.  There are a number of murals that remind me of Confucian and Taoist concepts.  The temple itself has a person who is writing, what I believe to be fortunes on paper.  He had a line going. 

Additionally, the view of the lake is actually quite nice from this location.  It is a tourist destination, as you had to pay an entrance fee. 

The temple itself feels very Chinese.  In fact, the one color that I would associate with the temple interior is red. 

The turtle is preserved and on display.  

Turtles or Tortoises have a significance to Vietnamese.  It also seems to be a motif also connected to the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, which has a number of tortoises on display associated with various scholars.  Supposedly, you rub the head to get some luck. 

If you can tell, the lake has a very distinct green color.  It is located in the heart of Hanoi, so I wouldn't recommend swimming in that water.  Sort of like the idea of swimming in LA's Echo Park Lake or MacArthur Park.  Not recommended. 

It has a nice view of Hanoi.