At least one hardy giant turtle still lives in the lake. It was captured and examined in early 2011 when wounds on its leg and head were identified, though it still managed to elude captors twice before being netted. It is a rare species of enormous, soft-shelled turtle known as rafetus swinhoei, of which there are only a few other specimens in Vietnam and China. This one weighed in at around 200kg and scientists estimate its age at around 80-100 years, but of course Hanoians believe it is one and the same creature that took Ly Thai To’s sword over five hundred years ago.
The turtle you’re most likely to see, however, is a heavily varnished specimen captured in 1968. It’s preserved and on view on a small island behind Den Son Ngoc, also accessible via the The Huc Bridge. Beside the bridge stands a nine-metre-high obelisk, the Writing Brush Tower, on which three outsized Chinese characters proclaim “a pen to write on the blue sky”.