I had a look around the city today and ended up at a monument that commemorates the lake/sword malarkey of Hoakiem lake. This lady turned me away as I was just abut to enter the temple, but a frail little old man, out walking with his daughter (well I assume it was his daughter, maybe not that frail perhaps) that reminded me a little of that tough old boy in the Asterix comics called geriatrix, took offence to this. He commended her, with a twinkle in his eye and a jaunty wave of his walking cane, to let us all in and she smiled and did just so.
The thing is that he started talking to me in French. Now my French is not great but we did manage to chat a while about the lake, the magical legend and other things that seemed all the more timeless because it was old father time himself that was decscribing them to me. We parted with a bow, his daughter smiled one of those disarming smiles that only the pure of heart can smile and they were gone, arm in arm.
Not that many young people in Vietnam speak French now, but you can find the older generation that do and it is they that have the best tales of all the wars faught and won and of all of the legends that they hold dear about this little gem of a country.