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"There's no place like home." If you had to leave your country for good, what or whom would you miss the most and why?
There is no place like home. If I had to leave my country forever, my heart would be aching for the Sword Lake, or Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnamese, one of the most scenic attraction of my hometown, Hanoi.
My house is just three streets away from Sword Lake. Ever since I was four years old, my grandma has been taking me on walks to the lake on a daily basis, such that now this has become an essential practice of my life. Whenever I walk along the street paved with red bricks around the lake, the story that my grandma told me years ago would resound in my mind. Thousands of years ago, the legend says that an emperor returned a magic sword which had brought him victory in his revolt against the enemy to the Golden Turtle God in the lake. From then onwards, the lake was named as 'The Lake of the Returned Sword' or most commonly known as 'Sword Lake'. To commemorate the help of the Golden Turtle God, a Tortoise Tower was built, standing on a small island in the centre of the lake. Sword Lake is considered the gem in the centre of my city. As the pride of all Hanoi people, the lake reminds us of our ancestors and our tradition of commemorating the achievements of our forefathers. It seems customary for most of Hanoi people to visit the lake once every week, and it would undoubtedly be a pity if I can never walk around the lake anymore.
Sword Lake prides itself as the spotlight of the city. There are no celebrations that do not take place around Sword Lake. When any celebrations or festivals are around the corner, concerts will be held in this area. Catchy songs and colourful slogans will capture the attention of any people walking by, and before long, traffic will come to a halt as most people will stop wherever they are and start to sing along with the crowd. However, Sword Lake is most crowded on New Year's Eve. There will be a fifteen-minute fireworks show at the lake, so many young people would pour out in the streets to come close to the lake and enjoy this time with their friends. The street will become a frozen river of people as they stand still and count down till the fireworks start. I remember watching fireworks at Sword Lake when I was in Primary School with my parents. I was so small that I could hardly see behind the towering adults; hence my father held me on his shoulders lovingly. Together, hand in hand, my parents and I watched the fireworks blooming into glorious flowers in the velvet sky before falling down to the lake in a rain of coloured crystals. A firework on the Sword Lake is the most breathtaking scene I have ever watched in my life, and I would try to replay it over and over again in my mind so that I will never forget it should I have to leave Hanoi forever.
Despite lying in the busiest area of the city, Sword Lake is also well-known for its peaceful beauty. All the willow trees along the shore would lean their trunk towards the lake, as if to observe their graceful beauty through the crystal clear water of the lake. The tranquillity of Sword Lake is irresistible; I love sitting on the shore of the lake to reflect upon my new experiences, as the cool wind brushes through my hair and relieve my stress after a hectic school day. Actually, there are many people who will sit on the marble benches around the lake like me, all of them deep in their thoughts. In the centre of this fast-paced, busy city, Sword Lake is always refreshing, giving us a place to escape, a personal place to have a peaceful moment for ourselves without the distraction of the chaotic world around. I doubt that there is any other place in this world like Sword Lake for me.
Sword Lake has always been a pride of Hanoi people, for its glorious history, its beauty as well as its tranquillity. Should I ever have to leave my city for good, Sword Lake will be the number one place that will always be remembered in my mind.