People visiting Viet Nam's tallest building – the 71-storey Keangnam Tower in Ha Noi – after last week's torrential rains were able to smile. One of the worst flooded areas of the city after Storm Kai Tak passed through, the streets in front of the building were inundated with water level up to half a metre deep.
While drivers were cursing as their cars and motorbikes spluttered to a stop, many locals and passers-by were entranced by the schools of fish swimming around. The water had flooded a nearby canal and the streets had turned into real rivers.
Using rods and nets, many came away with a bumper harvest. Does this mean apartment prices in the tower will now drop to reflect the building's rural outlook?
What's in a name?
Full names are not always enough to distinguish two Vietnamese. This is because the nation's 87 million people have only a few family names, such as the dynastic Nguyen, Tran and Le . Parents also tend to pick only a few beautiful and meaningful first names for their children, such as Ha for both man and woman (river), Dung and Hung (brave), Van (cloud), Hoa (flower) – and so on.
When the extra honorific of Thi (for females) or Van (for males) is added Viet Nam has a recipe for endless combinations of a comparatively small handful of names. And this can lead to endless confusion, especially when people of the same name and age happen to be from the same town or village – and were even born on the same day.
Often the date of birth, place of origin, permanent residence and fingerprints are used to clarify a person's identity. But the Ministry of Public Security proposes to take this a step further. It wants to update the current identity card with one that includes names of one's parents.
"If parental names are added, there will be no longer confusion between identities of two or more people," said the deputy director of the ministry's Administrative Management Police General Department Tran Van Ve. A US$38 million pilot project to achieve this will be rolled out in the capital city next month, but it is already being criticised by other ministries and the National Assembly for violating citizens' private lives.
If 60 million people aged 15 and above have to replace their identity cards, the cost will be about VND95 million. Surely there is something better to do with such a sum!
Nothing like a healing slap!
Are you suffering from stomach-ache, blood pressure, eye-sight problems, infertility or even cancer? Psychic healer Pham Thi Huong, 48, from the central province of Quang Tri, has one universal treatment for all these ailments – a severe slap to each temple and one to the face.
"Done," she says before putting out her hand for VND100,000 (nearly $5) for the consultation. While it sounds weird, thousands of people from all over the country have gone to Trieu Nguyen Commune to queue up for the treatment.
Even the intervention of local police and the death of a patient with leukaemia soon after the slapping has not dried up the long line of patients, enabling "Doctor" Huong to upgrade her simple thatched cottage into a comfortable home.
Bring out your gold!
For all those wondering what to do with their hidden bullion, a story in yesterday's paper comes as a relief. It informed readers that all bent and buckled gold bars that still meet other standards of quality and weight can be exchanged for new (and probably shiny) gold bars. Yeah! — VNS