It is a Tet (Lunar New Year) practice that employees are given a month's pay as bonus to cover their expenditures during the long festive vacation. However, this can be a headache for many bosses, especially if business has not been booming.
Pham Thi Phuong, chairwoman of Tuong Duong 1 Upper Secondary School's teachers' union was worried that about her school's low recruitment rate - and therefore reduced income. She felt it would be shameful if the school could offer only a few hundred dong to mark the efforts of teachers and staff, so she came up with the idea of giving everyone a bag of food seasoning, rather than money, hoping that the gift would give them a spiritual boost for the season. Unfortunately, no one was around to record their answers.
For many businesses sitting on large stocks of goods because of slow sales, like one electrical goods company in HCM City's District 10, staff can select their Tet bonuses from among the unsold washing machines, dishwashsers and microwaves.
Nguyen Van Tan, a marketing officer for the company, admitted that while he appreciated the opportunity to increase turnover, he preferred cash to spend during his vacation.
Yet, Tan and his colleagues are luckier than their peers in some companies because at least their gifts are of benefit to the family, unlike workers in an alcohol distillery in Hai Duong Province. These employees have no choice but to take home 20 bottles of rice wine. Many hope to sell their bonus booze in the marketplace for money to buy food for their Tet celebrations.
Trapped fly sets a trap
One day last December while carrying an unopened soft-drink bottle to serve a customer, Vo Van Minh, 35, the owner of a small restaurant in An Cu Commune in Tien Giang Province, spotted a fly inside.
Opportunity suddenly knocked, and the greedy Minh came up with the idea of making a fortune out of the incident.
He kept the bottle and called the hotline to the soft-drink makers, the Tan Hiep Phat Company in Binh Duong Province and tried to set up an appointment "for negotiations".
At the first appointment, Minh offered to keep quiet for VND1 billion (US$50,000). He reinforced his offer with the threat that he would send 5,000 leaflets to the media about the incident if they did not.
Later, the soft-drink makers offered to pay Minh VND500 million ($25,000) - and he accepted. A date and time was set for the money to be handed over.
One week later, when an eager Minh turned up at the appointed coffee house, he was "sprung" as he accepted the cash. The police, who had been secretly invited to the handover, later charged him with extortion.
Minh could have never imagined that a fly trapped in a bottle would set up a trap for him.
Hunt for weird tortoises
On the way home from the forest, a farmer in Hoa Phu Commune in Da Nang City stumbled upon a big tortoise with strange yellow markings about the neck and throat while passing a lake known as Ho Cau. He caught it and brought it home to show other villagers.
Word spread quickly beyond the commune and dozens of people flocked to the village to see the strange tortoise. Some offered to buy it for millions of dong.
The news also reached the ears of the forest rangers who arrived to identify whether the animal was from an endangered species. However, after some deliberation, they said it was a Vietnamese species from the Mauremys caspica family.
However, before the announcement was made, many residents around Ho Cau searched the area hoping to find more of the strange things - and cash in.
Nguyen Thi Tien, a member of the commune, so many people came to search that the whole area was turned up, ensuring there were no places left for the strange tortoises to hide.
Correspondents of Dan Tri (People's Knowledge) online newspaper interviewed the chairman of Hoa Phu Commune's People Nguyen Ngoc Hai who provided a peculiar story about the appearance of the strange tortoises.
He said that in 2006, a storm-triggered flood broke a tortoise-raising pond owned by a local farmer and tortoises climbed up a nearby mountain, where they thrived in isolation. "Now they are coming out searching for mates during the breeding season," he said.
Wonderful stuff. Someone should tell David Attenborough! — VNS