Ho Guom is the excitement we had when we were little, running around with the other kids in the neighbourhood. Ho Guom is that silly game of hide and seek we played near Thap But, is the climb over those royal poinciana trees where we leaned over close to the lake to see who the bravest was, is the sweet Trang Tien ice-creams we bought with some bucks we had saved for a while. It’s our first playground where we learnt about boys and girls, love and hate, where we painted the first sketches on our blank canvas of innocence.

Ho Guom is those morning walks with Mom, when we breathed in Hanoi, its scent, its noise, its shade, its people. Ho Guom is that breakfast - Banh Khuc Cau Go that she bought us, is those endless questions of “Why” we had for her. “Why is there a Shrine in the middle of the lake”, “why is the Temple called Ngoc Son”, “why is that tower called Thap But”, “why is The Huc Bridge crimson?” And when she answered every single one of them to our satisfaction, we would make up our explanations, and we both laughed. Because of Mom, Ho Guom means more than just a lake.

And then we grew up, we got used to the sight, the sound, the smell, the taste, the feel of Ho Guom. Yet, there’s a perpetual sense of freshness brought about by people. Sometimes, we can tell who has been here long, or who is new to Hanoi. The city, with Ho Guom at heart, is like a mosaic of different stories, different people, of ages past and future come, a new living experience within these old frames.

The walks around Ho Guom are more than just a blend of memories, history, and emotions. In those walks, that background noise of a bustling city somehow magically fades away, leaving behind a intimate moment of solitude and introspection.

We do what we have always done when we want to create memories, share stories, reflect, calm our soul, or to live to the fullest.

We walk.