Hoàn Kiếm as Community Centre

Hoan Kiem Lake With the rising sun women gather for the daily exercise classes Go to another page.
that are held all around the Lake. The backdrop is the Tháp Ràu monument
Path and exercise group The public run, jog and stroll, threading through the many groups who are... Exercise by the Lake ...following a leader in their callisthenic exercises to music supplied by a ghetto blaster Street calligraphy Calligraphers commandeer pavements to write posters for the crowds. This man is writing in Roman script using a brush While Hoàn Kiếm Lake Go to another page. is a massive tourist attraction, it also functions as a kind of community centre where locals congregate to talk, drink tea, exercise together, meditate, Go to another page. and always to watch others and themselves be seen. Sunset by the Lake Reflection and reflections. Around the world the setting sun induces reverie Two women in white Aó Dài The Vietnamese long formal dress - Aó Dài - is a common sight by the Lake. Photographers come here with their subjects who pose against this favourite background In fact relatively few strangers are seen at dawn - apart from photographers. While locals and foreigners may keep themselves to themselves, there are also many opportunities to meet and talk with others, whatever their background, be it local, national or international. Photographer in conversation A visiting photographer converses with this Hanoian Two men talking by the Lake Conversation at the water's edge Three men talking by the Lake Conversation after a game of badminton Two women talking Older people come to talk... Man and Bike ...or walk their bikes Young couple But just as much the young stroll... Students sketching The Lake is a prime location for students who are required to go out and sketch Two girls laughing ...or sit and laugh together Students are dispatched in large numbers from universities in Hà Nội to Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Some to draw, some to observe, but most to find foreigners with whom to speak English. The demands are usually light, and light hearted, but photos are always a prize. Impromptu English class Our impromptu group in January 2016 Pop-up English class A 'pop-up' teacher being snapped after the set questions have been assayed. Often these are the only English at the questioner's disposal! Family by Lake These men have brought a large teapot for refreshment after a game (tantalisingly barely visible) Men drinking tea It is not just old and young that congregate, families too come not least for an ice cream (tantalisingly not shown here) Individuals and flowers Many come on individual pursuits, for them conversation is easy to find Hoàn Kiếm provides a social centre for all, be it for exercise, or culture, for photography or meditation. But most of all it is a venue for conversation, for talking is Vietnam's number one activity. Waiting for badminton

Go to another page. is a great Hà Nội favourite. Here four women wait their turn to use the 'court' - often no more than a string between the trees
The next page gives examples of just how much Hoàn Kiếm Lake is used as a backdrop for photographers. Wedding photos by Hoan Kiem. line
Saturday 23rd April 2016 Murphy

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