Hanoi (Ha Noi, “river’s inner”) is a large sprawling beehive(s) of activity, spotted with large construction projects and relentless motion. With nearly 8 million people (approaching 9 million by 2030, est.), the urban scene is rather vast and can be overwhelming to a first-time visitor. On shorter visits, tourists probably will find themselves confined to the Old Quarter historical district and southern French Quarter (along Trang Tien street).
A focal point of Old Hanoi is Hoan Kiem Lake (湖還劍, meaning "Lake of the Returned Sword”). The small lake itself is relatively unattractive, in my opinion, probably because I am not a particular fan of its color — green. In the past, the lake also had the name "Luc Thuy Lake"("Green Water Lake”). It is isolated by geological factors in between the Red River and Nhue River.
- 2008 photo, manipulated
Near the northern shore, a modest island linked by a jewel-like red wooden bridge enfolds the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple), erected in the 18th century. The Huc Bridge, or Morning Sunlight Bridge, invites romance, misty reflections, spiritual aspiration, and hordes of visitors after the morning sunlight departs. Pilgrims come to the lake hoping for a blessing from the enigmatic Golden Turtle God, but usually have to settle for silent contemplation with friends over lunch.