Hoàn Kiếm Lake

As I trickle out of the weekly Hanoi night market, to join up with lake Hoàn Kiếm, you see the silhouettes of older people, stood at the edge of the lake facing inward, performing their daily exercises, rotating their arms from the shoulder joint.

Life is constant and unceasing around Hoàn Kiếm Lake.

On one night in May, 19.05.2019, I walked one lap of the lake and recorded the activity I saw.

Another lap would have doubtless told of even more…

On that night I saw:

4 dancing exercise groups (1)

3 strong games of Đá cầu (keepy upie) (2)

5 live music performances (3)

4 dancing dance troupes (4)

Toy cars being ridden, or waiting to be ridden

Magicians making magic
Caricature drawers drawing
Bubble blowers blowing

Endless stalls selling (5)

Curb crouchers
Bench bathers
Pavement picnicers

A dog with dyed red ears, and a dyed purple tail (pom pom esque)

The sound of a person singing one of the country’s favourite karaoke songs (6)

Fan wavers waving
Mask wearers wearing (7)
Root bearers bearing (8)
2-piece wearers wearing (9)

(at least) 10 stomach bearers bearing (10)

2 monks contemplating

A clash in performance schedules

A police coming to sort out a kerfuffle, with curious bystanders standing by

Phone watchers, selfie takers, face times havers

Stilt walkers, acrobat throwers

Dates havers

Normal-clothes wearing runners

Birthday celebration – a circle of friends, a cake and candles, good cheer

Ice lolly sellers selling

Balloon contorters shaping Little dogs on leads walking (11)

Lit trees standing

A deconstructed float (12)

A performance coming from a temple

An exhibition aimed at tourists (13)

Tottering toddlers

Street cleaners sweeping

Mopeds revving

Banana shirt wearers

Slider wearers


1) All women, estimated ages ranging from 20 – 70 years, at least 15 people per class. From a visual survey you’d guess it was all locals participating, bar one white gangling westerner – MALE – joining in whilst his parents took photos and encouraged from the side lines

2) Mostly played by teens, with a rogue 50+ yo involved from the sidelines

3) That included an all women, all men (gothic), mixed gender (rock) and all male (Justin Bieber-esque boy band)

4) That included an electric violin led 5 piece band (very sleek), A duo of western eco-chic acoustic performers, An electric guitar player and soulful male singer, Solo western woman

5) Selling chopped sugared fruit, plastic gizmos and more

6) Unconfirmed

7) Worn to protect against polluted air

8) Banyan trees

9) Older women in Vietnam tend to wear 2 pieces matching outfits – top and loose trousers

10) Men, always and only men

11) All looking like ‘Jeep’ a dog I got to know in Pu Luong

12) A national float celebrating Hanoi, half deconstructed, with some lotus flowers still on top, others forlorn on the floor beside

13) Entitled ‘Ho Chi Mihn: A Great Man’

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