Its seems Asian women will go to any lengths to "lighten" their skins. The plethora of moisturisers, cleansers and face masks designed to turn olive-skinned complexions pasty-white is testament to this obsession with being fair-skinned. This fairytale need to be like Snow White is taken to shocking extremes when Vietnamese girls get married. They are turned into pale imitations of their former selves, and the sight of these lifeless-looking mannequins is enough to drain the colour from your face.
The rational behind all this is that a fair complexion symbolises youth and beauty, wealth and sophistication. Conversely, those who are tanned because they need to work outdoors and are seen to be of lower social status.
The irony is that Westerners like to looked brown and spend much of their hard-earned cash on spray-on tans or soaking up the sun on the beach.
Earlier this month, a woman from central Thua Thien-Hue Province was hospitalised with breathing difficulties, nausea and pulmonary edema after having her skin "whitened" for two hours at a beauty spa.
Doctors from Hue Medical University Hospital said that if she'd been admitted 30 minutes later she could have died.
The woman, who had a heart condition, had difficulty breathing shortly after having her whole body smothered in whitening cream.
Commenting on the case, Dr Nguyen Viet Luong, from the Skin Treatment Centre, said skin-whitening is a fallacy and that creams do not work because our skin colour is genetically determined.
Furthermore, he said that some whitening creams remove the darker surface layers of the skin to expose more sensitive deeper layers of the epidermis, which can lead to dermatitis or in some cases skin cancer.
So perhaps the health implications of trying to lighten your skin should be borne in mind when you next ask the mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?
Know-it-alls need not apply
An import-export company on Doi Can Street, Ha Noi, raised hackles by stating on a recent job ad: "For certain reasons, we will not recruit students from the Foreign Trade University."
For those not in the know, the Foreign Trade University (FTU) is one of most prestigious higher education establishments in the country. It only accepts the brightest students and many graduates have gone on to achieve great things.
FTU is often referred to (not unfairly) as the "Harvard of Viet Nam," which makes one wonder why the aforementioned firm was so reluctant to employ our country's brightest and best.
When the company's director was contacted by a newspaper about the ad, he said he wasn't interested in employing FTU graduates because they were "arrogant," demanded unreasonably high salaries and favourable working conditions.
The ad fuelled a heated debate among members of the public, companies and FTU students.
A number of bosses agreed with the Doi Can Street company. They said the best recruits were not only bright, but hard-working, willing to learn, and were more inclined to chip in than try to stand out.
A number of FTU students, however, got on their high horse. They argued that one had to pay for the best, and that it was not unreasonable to expect a salary and working conditions "commensurate with ones abilities."
Age cannot wither him
An 82-year-old man Hanoian has been dubbed the long-in-the-tooth Lothario after his wife discovered that he had been dating girls his granddaughter's age.
It seems that the man's 80-year-old wife and their 50-year-old son hired a private detective to check up on the herbalist's movements when he began to "dress up" when he went out and profits from the family's herbal medicine shop in the Old Quarter began to decline.
The detective agency reported that the man seemed "suspiciously close" to the family's housemaid.
Furthermore, after trailing the elderly man from Ha Noi to nearby Bac Ninh Province, the detective discovered that the octogenarian had been meeting a 25-year-old girl.
The hotel's receptionist told the detective that the couple had been meeting every few days and that they seemed to be "very intimate".
After the pensioner's antics appeared on the VietNamNet news website, some surfers expressed shock, while others were in awe of his energy. Some even asked for the herbal medicine shop's address in the hope of learning the secret to his "youthful vigour".