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Relaxing at Hoan Kiem Lake

It seems that weddings are a big thing in Vietnam. Our Hotel is in the Old Quarter which is within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake seems a significant place to the people of Hanoi. I am aware that it has historical significance in relation to expelling Chinese invaders and spiritual significance in terms of a magic turtle and a divine golden sword.  Sorry I got that wrong (just checked the guide book). It was a magical sword and a divine golden turtle. One has to be carefully accurate and value free over these things. wars have been fought between European states over smaller differences.

The significance of the weddings is clear when you spend a Sunday walking around the lake. There are lots of couples in wedding attire having their pictures taken. It appears that not all of them are weddings. Many are pre wedding events, sometimes months before the wedding itself, where the couple done their costumes go to the lake. They are accompanied by a photographer who is clearly under 11 years old, and a photographers assistant, who is even younger. It would be foolish to be misled into thinking that this was to be anything other than a professional shoot.  The equipment is first class. Much of it has seen better days in terms of wear and tear, but it is good solid stuff. The photographers themselves clearly know what they are doing and put many of the UK wedding photographers I have seen to shame. On top of this it is an “event” with passers by smiling, joking and even joining in to take photographs themselves. The sun is strong and the lighting difficult because of the faint haze created by the smog of the city. The photographers are prepared though. As the sun drops towards the horizon they bring out the 6ft by 4ft Californian Sunbounce Reflectors”

Californian Sunbounce in action.

Californian Sunbounce in action.


An intimate moment, with hundreds looking on.

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For those not in the know these bits of kit are collapsable highly reflective panels that are used to reflect light into the person who is being photographed. One side is silver the other side is gold. When you use the gold side it makes the skin light up and glow.  It is amazing when to is used on a Vietnamese skin tone. Those of us of a certain age will realise that this is not the first time that American Technology and Industry has been used to make Vietnamese skin light up.

I put that last bit in because I am really struggling with what the Vietnamese call the American war. They call it that to differentiate it from the war to repel the Chinese invaders, the war to repel the Japanese invaders, the war to repel the French invaders, and the war to unite the country as agreed by the United Nations when the French invaders were repelled.

If Britain was as tenacious as that it would still be at war with the Normans. I will say nothing about Irish tenacity.