Children can be a handful at the best of times, as any parent knows, but spare a thought for the young parents of an 11-year-old girl in HCM City who can apparently start fires at will, and without matches.
Her proud, if nervous father, attributed a recent blaze at their apartment to his daughter's pyrokinetic powers.
The media jumped on the story and references were made to Firestarter, the 1980s novel by US horror writer Stephen King.
Her desperate parents called in scientists and experts in metaphysics, who attributed her fiery nature to a "strange line" on the right side of her brain.
But the scientific establishment as a whole was unconvinced and members of the HCM City research institute attributed her supposed power's of combustion to more mundane causes, such as faulty electrical wiring in the apartment – as did the police following an investigation.
Experts in the paranormal however were more cautious and advised the girl to wear quartz jewellery and drink coconut water.
In the meantime, her parents have installed fire extinguishers in their apartment, and are hoping beyond hope that the city does not suffer another summer of chronic water shortages.
They are also considering taking out household insurance, though one wonders what the premium might be and if insurance companies would take too kindly to claims made for fire damage caused by the girl with the fire in her eyes.
Uniformity at HCM City Maritime Vocational College is encouraged, particularly when it comes to graduation exams.
Last summer, 35 students sitting their finals handed in the same reports.
It seems that in their drive to be efficient, they had each copied one another's test papers, which themselves had been purchased from a previous graduate of the college.
Tuoi tre (The Youth) newspaper said the students' reports, which stretched to almost 70 pages, were identical, but for the name on top of the paper. Not only were the introductions, acknowledgements and content the same, but so was the punctuation. These studious individuals also duplicated one another's errors.
Their teacher however didn't seem to notice and gave each student a seven out of ten. He even went so far as to praise their diligence and attention to detail.
When the students' antics came to light, they claimed that their answers were "similar" because they each had similar backgrounds and work-place experience.
Foreign institutions do not take so kindly to plagiarism, but it seems rote learning in Viet Nam is still de rigueur.
Sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis) trees are listed in the Vietnamese red ook of endangered species. Unfortunately, for those looking to preserve the species, which is found only on Hainan Island in China and Viet Nam the wood of the Sua is highly prized and the timber from a single tree can fetch billions of dong.
Sua trees in Viet Nam are chiefly found in public places, making protection from logging difficult. In a bid to preserve the diminutive trees, which grow to a height of just 16 to 43 feet, authorities in Ha Noi erected steel fences around the base of their trunks – to no avail. It seems steel fences are no deterrent to a logger with a pair of handy wire cutters.
Which is why rangers at Nam Cao Park in northern Ha Nam Province hit on the idea of encasing the base of the trees in concrete. The concrete collars are about one metre high and at least a metre thick.
"We hope the concrete collars will deter loggers," one park ranger was quoted as saying.
Unfortunately, the move had the opposite effect. It seems that the unsightly concrete collars simply made the rare trees even more conspicuous and identified them as valuable to non-aborists and would-be illegal loggers.
Furthermore, illegal loggers simply chopped down the trees above their concrete base, with the result that Nam Cao Park is now dotted with unsightly concrete mounds and sua tree stumps. — VNS