The name cannot be any clearer: The Lake of the Returned Sword, the operative word being "returned."
Even a tourist who has just skimmed a guidebook knows the popular legend that gives the picturesque lake in the heart of the capital city, Hoan Kiem, its name.
The legend goes that Emperor Le Loi was boating on the lake when a Golden Turtle surfaced and asked for the magic sword that had been given to the king by its master, the Dragon King (Long Vuong), in order to help him defeat the invading Ming army. Loi returned the sword and renamed the lake to commemorate the event.
Sometimes, legends get twisted a bit by those who feel like exercising some creative licence, and over time, there are several versions of the story doing the rounds. But the crux of the story remains the same.
However, the Sai Gon–Ha Noi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) has shown that creative licence can be a double-edged sword, especially when you cross swords with a long-standing legend.
According to the 2014 calendar issued by the bank, Emperor Le Loi was boating on the lake when he saw the turtle. He took out his sword to drive the turtle away, but somehow, suddenly, the turtle held the weapon in its mouth and dived under.
So are we to call Ho Hoan Kiem the Lake of the Snatched Sword or the Lake of the Lost Sword?
Or we could remind the author of this version that "those who live by the sword die by the sword," and that this particular rewritten legend could fall on its sword.
Bilingual, but tongue-tied
A young woman was stopped by traffic police in the central province of Quang Binh last week for some violation.
However, the police could neither explain the violation to her nor understand her explanation for it, because she could only speak Korean.
The dialogue went to and fro in mutual non-comprehension for several minutes before fate intervened and broke the impasse.
As she rummaged about in her purse, apparently flustered by her failure to have the police understand that she had no papers for herself or for the bike, an identity card fell out and the cat was out of the bag.
She was as Vietnamese as they come.
The woman tearfully admitted to the police, in her mother tongue this time, that she did not have a driving license and had forgotten to bring the registration papers for her bike, and was hoping pretending to be a foreigner would let her escape.
In order to give full marks for trying, did the police pardon both the traffic violation as well as the slip of the tongue?
Guardians turn guards
The leaders of a primary school in Hong Ngu District in southern Dong Thap Province have asked 18 teachers to volunteer, without pay, and take turns to work late night shifts during the upcoming nine-day Tet holiday.
They do not have to teach special classes during these shifts, but protect the only four computers that the school has from being stolen.
School principal Chau Van Hien said the plan would allow the school's security guards have more time to visit their relatives and friends during Tet.
If the teachers denied to serve this important function, they would have to make good the loss incurred if anything untoward were to happen to the computers, he said.
It seems that those who teach children to be responsible are themselves being given a lesson in responsibility.
Hidden in plain sight
An ATM of the Viet Nam Maritime Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Maritime Bank) in Giang Vo Ward, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi was pulled down by some robbers last week.
A local resident reported the case to local police but the latter took no action.
The deputy head of the ward's police station, asked by Ha Noi police to explain the inaction, said he could not find the ATM in the dark.
The fact is that the big machine lay on the ground right in front of the booth, so that fact that he has been a crime branch policeman for more than 15 years begs the question: is this a case of night blindness or turning a blind eye to crime? — VNS