Authorities in the southern city of Vung Tau have issued a controversial regulation that allows locals and tourists to use beaches for swimming only between the hours of 7am and 5pm. They say it is necessary because there aren't enough life-guards on patrol in the evenings.
Under the new rule, the management board of beach resorts is now responsible for any drownings after hours!
The regulation has sparked outrage among city residents and tourists, who all question why they can only bathe during working hours. As most State officers, factory workers and students work and study during these hours, when can they find free time to bathe?
Residents say the ban is ridiculous. "Unbelievable," said one. But according to a spokesman for the Vung Tau Tourism Area Management Board: "Life-guards have to work hard and soak themselves in water all day long. So they cannot work at night." He also said it was hard to recruit more qualified rescuers.
Despite the protestations, life-guards usually carry out their patrols on the beach or by boats. Only when there is an alarm, do they enter the water to rescue them. This is the normal situation on other Vietnamese beaches and at sea resorts throughout the world.
But a voice of reason has suddenly appeared in the midst of the madness. Truong Thi Huong, deputy chairwoman of the Vung Tau City People's Committee, says her group will push for an extension of swimming hours to 7pm.
So, while waiting for something to happen, locals have two options: either risk their lives by choosing to swim in the sea outside working hours or risk losing their jobs if caught swimming within regulated hours.
Maybe tourists should travel to other beachside cities and towns, such as Da Nang, because there, people are allowed to swim from 4.30am to 7pm. Happy days!
Paying for a trip to paradise
The funeral of a young man in southern Binh Phuoc Province last week triggered official anger as his relatives scattered hundreds of real VND5,000 bank notes along the 15km road to the cemetery. Children, regardless of the danger, rushed onto the road to fight over the windfall.
The custom in Viet Nam and many other countries in East Asia is to offer imitation, or votive, money at funerals and at the monthly ancestor worship. This is supposed to enable the departed to buy off any punishment for ill deeds done throughout their lives.
According to Tran Van Hung, father of the dead man, his family scattered the money in the hope that their son would find luck in his next incarnation and not be tortured by evil spirits. This would enable him to get married in heaven and have a happy life.
While many people struggle to buy even a bread roll or a drink, it seems slightly obscene for such an ostentatious waste. Many bystanders said it would have been much better if the family had given the money to charity.
The family's largesse actually violates a regulation published by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. This bans scattering real money at funerals. However, if they wish to take action, authorities will have to come up with some suitable punishment because no provisions are set down.
Meanwhile. what to do with the piles of one, two, five and ten-thousand dong notes freely given to worshippers by female shamans at most hau dong ceremonies? These rites are performed at least twice a month in certain temples and homes to bring luck.
How to avoid exam failure
Thousands of students attended university entrance examinations last week. Completing university has been a dream of most people since Van Mieu (Confucian Temple of Literature) was founded in Ha Noi 1,000 years ago.
The pressure to succeed is intense. Even superstition is used to hopefully provide some good luck.
A week before the exams, Luong Phuong Thao's mother in Tu Liem District hired a fortune teller to hold an offering ceremony to help her pass. Thao was forced to sit still up all night as the proceedings droned on.
Unfortunately, this left her too exhausted to study for the next couple of days. It also cost her mother VND12 million (US$571). Moreover, her mother also forced her to eat the offerings of beans and peas, which are apparently a symbol for exam success, and forbade her to eat bananas, eggs, fish or chocolate, which presumably are associated with misfortune.
Thao was also not allowed to wash her hair two days before the exam because her mother was scared the water would sweep away her knowledge. Before Thao left her house to attend the exam, her mother ran outside to stop any woman who might pass. In superstitious belief, a woman can bring bad luck
But it may have all been in vain. During her two-day examination, Thao felt tired and stressed and she did not give her best performance. While she secretly expects a bad result, no one will know until the exam results come out. — VNS