A few minutes into my Hanoi experience, I was overtaken by the most intense mix of smells, sounds, and sightings in the downtown that never winds down. From vendors hawking their trades, food stall operators preparing some of the most exotic, and yes delicious bites, to hell-bent cyclo drivers. I emerged from a main street to spot the serene Hoan Kiem lake with its pagoda red Chinese bridge, and there was this local couple staring at the bridge as much as the innocent-eyed tourists who just came off their planes. For a fleeting moment, the man turned to his equally mesmerized partner and whispered something. "Come with me!" he must have said.
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With the help of a Turtle
They say that Vietnam help gain its independence from china in 15th century with the help of a mythical turtle. Legend has it that soon after claiming victory the new emperor went boating in the central lake, in what is now Hanoi, when a turtle came up out of the water and reclaimed the sword that helped defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty. Today the turtle tower seems to float in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. When the city is draped mist the temple is only an outline – much like an ink painting. In the evening when young Vietnamese walk along the edges of the lake –
the temple glows.