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Down near the old quarter in Hà Nội lies the Temple of Literature. I’ve been told the Temple of Literature is one of the oldest temples in Hà Nội, dating back to 1070.

I've also been told that the Temple of Literature, which sits on a full city block, was one of the first Confucian-based universities, and it catered to the elite. The story goes that back in the day, many villages in the provinces across Việt Nam would individually, or collectively, select one person and send them to become educated at the Temple of Literature. That way, each village (or group of villages) would have a highly educated person who could help with daily living decisions, policy making, etc. Whether or not this selected individual was an elite bureaucrat, noble, or member of the local royal family, was not made clear. 

If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Hà Nội and visit the Temple of Literature, you will see 116 giant, carved stone turtles surrounding one of the inner gardens. Among other things, the turtle is a symbol of luck in Việt Nam.

When students in Hà Nội middle schools, high schools, and universities have a big exam coming up (or a thesis or dissertation to defend), they will travel to the Temple of Literature for the express purpose of saying a prayer and “rubbing the turtle’s head” for luck. This habit has been going on so long that the heads on the stone turtles are all glazed and shiny. 

Relatedly, I found this baby turtle in the picture below at the park where I walk around the lake.

picture of baby turtle about the size of a quater in the palm of a  hand

I think, if it is lucky, it will grow up to look like this 18" turtle, which I saw at the lake in the park a week or so after I found the baby turtle.

picture of brown turtle in the water. You can see the turtle's head is sticking out of the shell on the left side below the yellow leaf in the water.



JULY, p. 9

AUGUST, p. 9


OCTOBER,  p.g 2,  p. 3, p. 4

NOVEMBER p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5, p.6, p.7

DECEMBER p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5 p.6, p.7, p.8

JANUARY p.2, p.3

FEBRUARY, p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5, 

MARCH p.2, p.3, p.4 p.5, p.6, p.7

APRIL p.2, p.4