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Practicing Engrish @ Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoam Kiem, Turtle Pagoda

      It would be incorrect to assume any expertise of mine regarding Sun Tzu’s treatise The Art of War (used today in all kinds of mentoring courses for improving anything from your business skills to your love life). Truth is, I have only read fragments from it and for all practical purposes my knowledge is limited. That said, one of Sun Tzu ideas which I found particularly interesting was the claim that a battle is in fact won before it even starts (if you followed Sun Tzu’s recommendations, that is). Digging deeper into it, here is the logic: the battle is won before it started, because you must only enter a battle under very specific (favorable) circumstances and avoid it otherwise. Under the correct circumstances, Sun Tzu says, events would unfold automatically, by themselves – just like pushing a ball on a slope. Of course, for this to actually work one needs to have secured all the prerequisites necessary for the victory beforehand. There are several of them, one being “earth” (what we might call “environment” in modern terms ). Simplifying Sun Tzu’s elegant logic, it all comes down to the realization that certain environments are more enabling than others for certain ends. Say, if you are interested in animal-watching in the African savannah, it’s best to hide near a pond rather than anywhere else, because all the animals would come to the pond on their own accord to drink water without you having to do anything more.

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     Hoan Kiem Lake lies at the center of Hanoi. The beautiful Turtle tower in its middle, the surrounding trees, the grass and the benches – all of these make the lake the perfect recreational site. Old people would come to sit and chat or practice group dancing lessons, families would bring their little kids, teenage boys and girls would come to hit on each other. And of course, foreigners  would come to eat an ice cream or read a book (myself). Hoan Kiem lake is one of the very few places in the Vietnamese capital to escape from the heat and enjoy a wide-open space scenery not crammed full of buildings and speeding scooters. (One more such place is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, to which I will devote a separate post).

Hoan Kiem Lake

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