A degree of contention
A young guy recently sent a letter to VietNamNet e-newspaper complaining about losing an opportunity to work overseas because of the English – or lack of it – on his bachelor's diploma. The diploma, issued in 2011 under the masthead of the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, stated in English on one side that: "The President of SaiGon Technology University has conferred the Degree of Engineer (computer science) upon..."
However, the graduate, one of the first batch to receive the bilingual version, has just found out that his working visa to South Korea was denied because the certificate fails to say in English that he has completed his bachelor's degree. The expression "Degree of Engineer" doesn't mean anything to South Koreans. The South Koreans were looking for the term "Bachelor of Engineering," as presumably would have academics from most Western countries.
According to an official from the Ministry of Education, the term Degree of Engineer is correct, as it corresponds with those in several European countries. But something is out of kilter. The circular also refers to "Degree of Architect" for architectural graduates, and "Degree of Doctor of Medicine" for graduates of medicine, which in this writer's opinion are also misleading. Surely it would be better if Vietnamese education experts made certain the terms they used were recognised in countries with which we have very strong connections – South Korea for instance!
Wastrels not wanted
A photo taken in a restaurant in Thailand – and posted on Facebook by a Vietnamese tourist – has made many think. The notice was only in Vietnamese, so presumably it was meant for Vietnamese. It read: "Xin vui long an bay nhieu lay bay nhieu. Neu an khong het se phat tu 200 baht den 500 baht. Xin cam on!" (Please take only what you can eat or wastage will be charged at 200 baht to 500 baht. Thanks!). Many networkers said they felt hurt that Vietnamese were getting a reputation for overfilling their plates. Others said they had paid like all diners, so they should be entitled to eat whatever they wanted.
Others said the notices were common in Thailand and that they were often placed where there were many Vietnamese visitors. And, we must admit, we have witnessed many local people wasting food at buffet tables in Ha Noi and other Vietnamese cities.
How quickly the past fades. Only a few years ago, Vietnamese had to queue for hours just to dine on a meal of sweet potatoes and rice. Recently, one restaurant opened in Ha Noi with exactly this theme – and it is doing well.
This week's brilliant idea
Traffic jams in Ha Noi and other big Vietnamese cities are much more common now that cars have started to vie with motorbikes for road domination – despite commendable Government efforts to tax them out of the country.
Ha Noi Transport Association has now suggested that the Transport Ministry import motorised tuk tuks, a motorised rickshaw with four to six seats. These putt-putting little wonders have become a popular means of transport in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and other Asian cities.
The association said that tuk tuk should be free to roam in outlying districts to bring residents into the inner cities or be used as interchange vehicles between bus stops. It believes this would reduce the number of private cars and motorbikes coming into the city – and create far less pollution.
But it's odd the idea arose just after Ha Noi banned the use of xe lam, a tuk tuk look-alike used mainly for carrying goods.
Time to air the washing
One foreigner we know is trying to stop the spread of a small next-door coffee shop. First it jammed chairs and tables right up to his double doors – then on both sides of the entrance. Later, he lost his main motorbike entry point as customers, and motorbikes, accumulated.
Then, to add insult to injury, the coffee shop wallahs hoisted a long wire from tree to tree in front of his house on which they delicately perch singing birds in cages. The final blow came when a beaming woman started washing and clipping grubby feet in a large bowl on his actual doorstep.
Our friend was last seen keeping watch on a divan in front of his double doors. His counter attack plans can be revealed – forcefully shifting offending plastic mini chairs – and preparing a bundle of washing to hang next to the bird cages! — VNS