People from Sam Lang Village in Na Hy Commune in the northern mountain province of Dien Bien have adopted probably the strangest method in history to cross a swollen stream.
A bridge made of thick planks tied to low stone pylons is the way they cross the Nam Po River to get to and from the village school. But that is in the dry season only.
When it is wet and the bridge is covered with fast flowing water, residents, including teachers, adopt an odd and dangerous way to get from side to side. As readers of Vietnamese newspapers found out in amazement yesterday, the 100-metre trip is made by hopping into a large plastic bag and having it pulled by a strong swimmer in his shorts.
Tong Thi Minh, a kindergarten teacher from the village, filmed a scene showing teachers waiting by the side of the swift-flowing stream. They then take it in turns to creep into a bag until it covers them from head to toe. Male swimmers then haul the "baggage" through the turbulent waters.
The residents, of course, try to stay calm during the trip because if the bags are torn on rocks, they face being swept away. Minh told the Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper that parents also use the bags to take their children to school.
Residents dream of a suspension bridge, but construction could be costly because of the difficult terrain and roads full of mud.
Trafficker under scrutiny
Vu Thi Thu Huong, 38, a member of Team 7 with Binh Dinh Province's Market Watch Department, was jailed for a year in 1997 for trafficking cigarettes. Huong fled the province before the sentence was enforced and was later caught in the central city of Da Nang after appearing on a "Wanted" notice.
However, in 2007, Huong sent a job application to the Binh Dinh Market Watch Department. She wrote in her curriculum vitae that she had lived at home and had done housework since she was 15.
The department signed a contract with Huong. She worked as an accountant after doing a course at a vocational school. Last year, Huong was enrolled on the permanent staff and has since then worked as a controller.
However, some workers with the department apparently learned of her past and reported her to their bosses. They felt that she had faked her background and therefore should not be allowed to continue in the position.
Mai Xuan Hoang, deputy director of the Binh Dinh Market Watch Department, told the Dan tri (People's Intellectual) e-newspaper that the department had assigned a staff to check into Huong's job application. If it did not reveal the truth, she faces either punishment or the sack... or both.
Man lives without pulse
Le Van Khi, 75, who lives in Dien Duong Commune in Dien Ban District in central Quang Nam, is a medical mystery. He surprises all doctors and nurses he meets because they can never measure his blood pressure or find his pulse.
During the American War, Khi was injured 17 times, but he always recovered. His health is now good and he can do most jobs, including gardening and house repairs.
In 1995, the old soldier went to a sanatorium in Hoi An City for examination. But none of the centre's doctors and nurses, including its director, could find his blood pressure or pulse. "They thought that I would soon be dead and told me to return home immediately," he told the Dan Viet (Vietnamese People) news website.
Then in 2012, he suffered from chest pains and went to Quang Nam General Hospital for a health check. Doctors and nurses there were frightened by his apparent lack of heartbeat. Vo Don, director of the hospital, said that it was the first time he had come across such a case.
Thus Khi was again moved to Da Nang City Hospital for further checks, but medical workers there could also find no sign of a ticking heart. Despite evidence to the contrary, Khi is still thriving. — VNS