Parks in Ha Noi are the kind of place where it’s difficult to walk ten feet without bumping into a man or group of men who are meditating, resting their untroubled gaze upon some placid body of water, or engaging in a similar mind/body/spirit expanding activity. What struck me about those guys (and other Vietnamese people I’ve bumped into on the street) is that they are relatively very soft spoken until you pull out the magic wand: a camera.
This device turns the shiest of Vietnamese into smiley, jazzy friends who think its so funny that you have a camera! A staff member in a red shirt blazed by me yelling “Hello! Where you from!” as I sat by the pond at the Temple of Literature.
Out of nowhere: a dragon pose.
I searched around me to see if one of his friends was about to snap a pic but no, he was waiting for me to capture his moment of glory—finger claws, snarled teeth and all—to be placed in the photo album he’d never see.
I then asked him where he was from. Time to get shy again. It was probably his lack of English, but the man went from a crazy fun-loving dragon to a self-conscious staff member who suddenly had to run away. Literally, he ran away from me, but at least he was smiling when he did.