Hanoi, a 1000 year-old city, is second only to Hoi An for being my favorite place in Vietnam. I quickly became lost in the Old Quarter’s tangled web of streets, spending hours soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells. I also spent my first day in Hanoi at the legendary1 Hoan Kiem Lake, Hoa Lo Prison Museum, and the Temple of Literature.
- Legend claims in the mid-15th century the gods gave Emperor Le Loi a magical sword, which he used to drive the Chinese from Hanoi. Later while boating on the lake, a giant turtle grabbed the sword and disappeared into the depths to return the sword to the gods. This legend inspired the name Ho Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword). The lake’s last turtle, Cu Rua, died shortly after I returned home from my trip. ↩