It was just another hot day in Hanoi – we’re talking about 40 Celsius degrees here. We were just on our way to one great long avenue where the sun was playing with huge old trees and road was busy, as always. I like the contrast on this section and there is great potential for photographs. Our tripod was ready and the camera was all set. All we needed was one Vietnamese lady with a shoulder pole full of fruit. However, far cry from any spy in Hanoi…
We were there waiting for a while and took some test photos when a mysterious woman appeared: she pointed into our camera and said something like “nyom nom”. I soon realized that she was from the nearby government building, and it was prohibited for us to take photos of them. Regardless, she was very interested in our camera and the photos we took so we showed her a few.
Let’s be French
Our strategy was “let’s be French and act normal!” We walked around for 15 minutes, and guess who we found still lurking by us? She was like a really bad copy of James Bond! I even yelled at her: “I can still see you, you know!”, when she unsuccessfully tried to hide behind a huge tree. This spy in Hanoi situation was getting even funnier when she was peeking with her lazy eye. O Lord, I was just hoping there won’t be any warning shot, because she could miss, well hit…
When you think about it, things could have been far worse. They could have just surrounded us and demanded to format our SD card. It’s a good thing they didn’t, because, on this particular card, we have a huge collection of fresh Hanoi photos. To prevent this possibility we became a real ‘old-fashioned’ tourists with maps and a few photos of the nearby cathedral with flowers and cockroaches and things…
Of course, we are tourists, just not the selfie kind. When we saw her talking on the walkie-talkie, we focused on her voice vibrations: it felt like she had seen enough, and then we were relieved to see her walking away.
Watch out what are you shooting in Hanoi
This story is funny mostly because of her horrible hiding skills, but still, it’s a great reminder of how quickly trouble can appear if you don’t obey the rules. And I can totally understand her. We were fully equipped with a mine tactical backpack and a tripod in a bag, which looks like a serious weapon (I guess?). It is also true that our dark sunglasses and pollution mask didn’t help at all. The pollution in the city is scary and we want to stay healthy (alive). The same day we had our afternoon tea at Landmark72, high in the sky where this pollution cloud is even more obvious.
It’s no joke when you feel you can’t breathe. The air pollution in Hanoi is three times higher than the WHO acceptable guidelines. Standing underneath the mighty trees was all we wanted, no need for drama. We are not interested in any of the political trouble, we just loved the Hanoi’s most beautiful street. Anyway, I think the spy in Hanoi is no threat for the government. The real intruder is all around them and it’s called smog.
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