After arriving in Hanoi in the morning, I met up with one girl I met in Ho Chi Minh and someone else from her hostel. We started and will end our trip through Vietnam on the same days but were one completely different schedules and plans. It was interesting to catch up on what had happened to the both of us since we last saw each other almost 2 weeks ago!
After getting some pho we went to the Hanoi prison Hoa Lo which served for multiple things during its existence. Once used for pottery crafting it was later turned into a prison, not only used by the French but later also used by the Vietnamese itself. Of course, also the war with the Americans was mentioned: some pilots bombing Hanoi in the 70s were put in there as prisoners but actually treated very (!!) well, according to the photo documentation in the museum.
It was however very creepy to see a lot of dolls in the cells to show how the prisoners were kept in there by the French.
After the prison museum we went by a close temple, the Quan Su Temple.
We then parted and I went to walk around the lake, where I passed a small square with loads of children playing, roller blading, skate boarding, just having a good time. After sitting there for a moment to watch I left to go into the Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) on the island in the lake. It is a very small temple but it got quite some history to it. The lake is the lake where emperor Le Loi returned the sword to a turtle (golden turtle god) and therefore the name of the lake has been changed from Luc Thuy (green water) to Ho Hoan Kiem (lake of the restored sword) or Ho Guom (Sword Lake). Therefore, in the temple is also a massive turtle statue behind glass.
After I finished with the temple I went to the close water puppet theatre and was just in time for one of the performances. It was a very cute and nicely done show with 14 scenes selected of over 400 scenes that were used to play, accompanied by traditional live music and singing. Also the story about the sword being returned to the turtle in the lake was one of the shown scenes.