Hanoi dotted with kapok tree blossoms

 Come March, many corners of Hanoi, especially in the countryside, are adorned by red kapok trees blooming in profusion.

Kapok trees 30 meters tall are in full bloom around the National Museum of History in downtown Hanoi.

For Hanoians, the sight of these red flowers signals the approach of summer.

Thay Pagoda, a popular spiritual destination in Hanoi, is adorned by red kapok trees.

The ancient pagoda, situated at the foot of Sai Son Mountain in Quoc Oai District, is about 30 kilometers southwest of the city's center.

Built in the 11th century, during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong (1072--1128 CE), the pagoda is closely associated with monk Tu Dao Hanh, famed for his humility and generosity toward the poor.

Legend has it that Hanh invented water puppetry to depict the lives of the rural population.

Kapok trees bloom along Yen Stream where boats typically dock to ferry pilgrims to the Huong (Perfume) Pagoda, a collection of temples and shrines built amid mountains and forests in Hanoi’s outlying district of My Duc.

After being closed for nearly a month due to the country's latest Covid-19 outbreak that began on Jan. 28, the complex reopened on March 13.

Inside Thien Tru Pagoda, part of the Huong Pagoda complex, where overcrowding has become common in the first lunar months with Vietnamese gathering to pray for peace and good luck.

Cable cars provide a vantage point to view red kapok trees bloom around Huong Pagoda.

The kapok trees, believed by many Vietnamese to be favored by ghosts, are an idyllic sight across many Red River Delta villages at this time of year, often planted to demarcate rice fields or at village entrances.

This tropical Asian tree is also known as red silk-cotton or just silk-cotton. Its bark, root and flowers are used in oriental medicine.

Kapok trees are commonly used medicinally to counter fever and detoxify. Particularly, their flowers are employed to treat diseases like peptic ulcers.

Kapok trees along a lane in My Duc District, home to Huong Pagoda.

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