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Travel Hanoi, explore Ngoc Son temple

Hoan Kiem lake is located on the Southern side of Hanoi Old Quarter. It is the heart of local Vietnamese people. It is also the Zero km in Vietnam. The lake is small with all year round green water, but charming with many willows and old trees around. It may take you about 40 minutes to walk around.

It was called Hoan Kiem since 15th century with the ledgend that, In the 15th century, the Heaven sent Le Loi a magical sword, which he used to defeat Minh - Chinese invadors out of Vietnam. Le Loi became the King and chose offical name as Le Thai To. On a beautiful day, he sat on a dragon boat sailing around Luc Thuy lake( Luc means green and thuy means water. Its is the first name of Hoan Kiem lake). Suddenly, he happened upon a giant golden turtle swimming on the surface of the lake and toward his boat. The turtle grapped the sword and disappeared depths of the lake. Since then, the lake has been well known as Ho Hoan Kiem( The lake of Restored Sword). Nowadays, there is still a gaint turtle living in the lake. You can see its photos in Ngoc Son temple.

An early morning or night visit to Hoan Kiem lake at its best. In the morning, life is stirring as joggers, walkers, mordern - classical dancers and Tai Chi practicers limber up in the half light. At night, the lake looks so charming with well-light on the tree. Walking around this time, you will find couples seeking twilight privacy on benches half-hidden among the willows.

Ngoc Son temple was built in the 1400s on small island called Dao Ngoc. From Dinh Tien Hoang street, you will pass a nine metre high Writing Brush Tower with 3 Chinese characters " Ta - Thanh - Thien". The 3 words mean "Write on the blue sky". It is the Hanoians' aspirations for peace and education. Walking through the gate, you will cross the The Huc bridge made of red-lacquer wood with poemtical meaning richness and happiness. it is a famous place for wedding photos.

On the island, you will find the temple sheltering among many ancient trees. It was first dedicated to Buddha, but now for a group of Vietnamese and Chinese Saints drinking tea happily together. The reseachers say that it is Vietnamese people's wish for peace: Chinese, Vietnamese and others live happily in the same ASIA house. The 1st altar is dedicated to Quan Vu, a famous Chinese general. Next to him is La To, a god in Taoism. The following is Van Xuong, the god of literature. At the end, the Statue of Tran Huong Dao who led Vietnamese people in the war against the Mongols. On the side room, there is a gaint turtle of 2m long, 250 kg weight who died in 1968. It is said that "travel Hanoi without a visit to Ngoc Son temple and Hoan Kiem lake means you have been to Hanoi".

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