April 2018. As the larger of Hanoi’s two city lakes, Ho Tay (West Lake) is a much more subdued affair than pretty Hoan Kiem, with its temple, turtle tower and pretty, landscaped gardens. But Ho Tay is well worth checking out with a handful of interesting sights and a seventeen-kilometer shore length that makes for some excellent walking routes. Start your journey here at the smaller, neighboring Truch Bach Lake.
April 2018. The entire lake was enveloped in a sinister gloom on the day of my visit to Ho Tay. Gone were all the tourists of Hoan Kiem for the most part, just the odd fisherman, fruit vendor and plenty of sittin’ doin’ nothins.
April 2018. The lake’s biggest attraction is Trấn Quốc Pagoda, the city’s oldest pagoda dating back to the 6th century. It has eleven levels, while the complex also features an incense burning house, a small museum and a number of intricately carved statues, each one with unique facial features. It’s free to enter daily from 07:30-18:00.
April 2018. Be sure to stop for an ice cream at the lake’s little parlor, just a minute’s walk from the American War Memorial. The stone benches outside are usually filled with locals.
April 2018. The so-called American War Memorial is really just a tribute to Senator John McCain, whose plane was shot down right here on October the 26th, 1967. He’d been carrying out a bombing mission, so the Vietnamese weren’t best pleased with him when they dragged him ashore, adding a solid body beating to his already broken arm and leg. He was subsequently dragged off to Hoa Lo Prison for five and a half years. The inscription on the memorial reads:
“On 26 October 1967 near the Truch Bach Lake, the Vietnamese people in Hanoi caught John Sidney McCain. He was the captain of a group who flew planes in the sky to attack Hanoi. The number of the plane was A4. The plane fell on Yen Phu power plant. This was one of 10 planes that fell on the same day”.
There’s more about John McCain’s amazing Hanoi story with my article on Hoa Lo Prison.
Want to delve deeper into Vietnam’s amazing capital? Have a look at my other 5s from around Hanoi.
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