The 13th of May 2014 was our last full day in Hanoi. As we didn't have any tour planned for this day, this was supposed to be our free and easy day. For the first time since arriving in the Vietnamese capital, we could afford to wake up later and have a more leisurely breakfast.
Nevertheless, my wife and I woke up at about 7.30a.m. Not wanting to wake up our son and daughter in the next room, we decided not to waste our precious time in Hanoi and went for a stroll by the famed Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (Hoàn Kiếm Lake).
The Hoan Kiem Lake was practically just a stone's throw away from the Hotel Gondola. Down the street and a right turn, and there we were, the lake was right before us. And at 7.30a.m. Vietnamese time (8.30a.m. Malaysian time), the roads were already full of people commuting on their motorcycles.
The lakeside was teeming with people too: people jogging and exercising, people sitting down on benches and looking out towards the lake in quiet contemplation, and of course, people chatting away with their friends. In short, it was bustling with activity.
We crossed to the other side of the road. There was this place that looked like a temple. A crowd was gathered there for some religious dedication. According to a plaque outside the building, this was a memorial to their national hero, Le Loi, who was later to become the Vietnamese king, Le Thai To. Legend has it that he wielded a magic sword that was later to be returned to the Hoan Kiem Lake by a turtle, hence the Turtle Tower in the middle of the lake.
We continued our walk back to the hotel, passing by this huge tree
And the streets were alive with businesses opening up.
Early morning fruit seller with her mangosteens