I passed under the railway in Old Hanoi and turned left, and suddenly I was no longer in a normal busy street but in an unusual busy street: quite a few people were dressed up, everyone seemed to be in a very happy mood and was holding a smartphone or a camera (or both), and those who were behind the lens one minute were in front of it the next. The result needed careful examination:
The reason for this photographic excitement and general delight is street art, a recent joint project between Vietnam and Korea, I learned. The walls between the railway arches have been turned into colourful murals, many of which are trompe l’oeil, that depict scenes from old times in Hanoi and Vietnam.
People like to be photographed not only next to or in front of the murals, but to act as though they were really in them, part of them.
There are also some artefacts that were commonly used in the old days. And again people don’t just look at these things but act as though they were using them, some maybe remembering how they actually did use them back then.
One lady in particular caught my eye: she wore a beautiful ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress, whose colours went so well with the street car in front of which she was posing.
At one point she noticed me and I got a slight fright since I had taken quite a few photos of her without asking. But I could relax: she asked in a friendly way, in perfect English, if I had been taking photos of her. I immediately admitted that this was the case, and we started talking. Her name was Ms Ngoc, and like most people she wasn’t just a passer-by but had come with her husband to enjoy the scenes from times gone by and, of course, to take photos.
Street art at its best, I would say.