Monday, August 28, 2017


Once upon a time in Vietnam, the Golden Turtle God gave King Le Thai To a magic sword to help drive away China's invading Minh army which the King did after 10 years of fighting.

One day, the King went boating in a lake where a giant turtle appeared grabbed his magic sword which the King never saw again.

He realized that perhaps that was the Golden Turtle God who came to reclaim the sword that was lent to him so to commemorate that sword-grabbing event, the King renamed the lake as the "Lake of the Returned Sword".

That lake today is a landmark that announces the entrance to the Old Quarter from Hanoi's downtown through Hue and Hang Bai which is 2.1 kilometers by foot from my hotel in Bui Thi Xuan, and nearby along Le Thai To is the Lotus Water Puppet Theater where  plays on the sword-grabbing incident might be showing.    

Some 880 meters away via Le Thai To, Cau Go and Dinh Liet will be a welcome arch that announces Ta Hien, Hanoi's beer street for the tourists, where a photographer poses at the entrance as a sexy Asian tourist walks into the strip, though rows of yellow plastic stools and folding tables, the same entrance where a Tuborg promo girl in her sexy green dress crossed later in the night through Hang Bac.   

I walked back later in the night, the lake a mirror of lights, the shorelines a virtual festival of hawkers and curious tourists and the local population just wanting to relax as I made way this time via Dinh Tien Hoang before turning right to Nguyen Du, left to Thieu Viet Vuong, right into Tue Tin, then another right to Bui Thi Xuan into "The Coffee Shop" where I had my first encounter with Vietnam's iced coffee with condensed milk.

In 2011, a giant turtle with a head as big as a human's and presumed to be at least 100 was caught in the lake. 

Some 2.3 kilometers away along Le Van Huu is the Bun Cha Huong Lien where Anthony Bourdain treated then Pres. Barack Obama to dinner.

Bun Cha is the food of the Golden Turtle God, and Bourdain and Obama actually dined on turtle eggs.

But no, I made that up while having breakfast at "Ka Tunying's Cafe" in Quezon City and added the turtle eggs part while lunching on an over-creamed pasta at "Sizzling Steaks" in Cabanatuan City. 

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