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Mission Incomplete or Mission Impossible?

Update: February, 24/2015 - 10:19

Huynh Ho is building a house. Nothing unusual about that, you say, but Ho has been focused on this task for more than half of his 65 years, 35, to be exact.

Such long waiting periods are not unheard of, you say, adding that there are millions who live and die without ever owning their own house.

Yes, but Ho wants to build the entire house with his own hands because he does not want to "waste" money hiring workers.

Well, that is understandable, you are thinking, because he must be very poor.

Pham Thi Sang, one of his neighbours, tells the Nguoi lao dong (Labourer) newspaper that Ho is not poor, he can be called a rich man.

We cannot delve into details of his personal finances, but Ho's plot of land in Nam Phuoc Town, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, located near the DT610 Highway, has received purchase offers of VND5-6 billion (US$238,000-285,700). Ho has rejected all offers.

So how does he do it?

Every day, he pulls his cart all over the town, looking for work as a manual labourer. On the way, he picks up any brick, stone or steel rod that he finds and takes them home as materials he can use at home. He uses money earned from his work to buy cement, and collects sand from the local river.

And so, the house continues to take shape. Something to write home about, indeed.

No old wives' tales

There are many places in the country, and elsewhere, where vigilantes protect their neighbourhood and help local police fight crime.

Robbers are wary of such local heroes, who are typically young, muscular men, but it so happens that in several localities in Viet Nam, it is the senior citizens that strike fear in the hearts of even seasoned thieves, not just wannabes.

Ngo Van Sang, 72, a resident of Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province, has received dozens of certificates of merit for catching robbers in his locality.

Recently, he caught one less than half his age at 32 years. The young man sneered at the old man and drew out his knife, but was subdued and handed over to the local police.

Nguyen Van Lap, 70, of Hau Giang Province, has caught five highway robbers in the past three years, stopping them from relieving women off gold accessories, bags and mobile phones. Lap has countered weapons wielded against him with sticks and canes.

But Luc Binh Loi outdoes the above-mentioned veterans by about two decades.

The Dao ethnic minority man who lives in Ban Lau Commune, Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province, is the oldest man to achieve the feat of nabbing robbers. He is 90 years old.

Chau Xuan Thong, a local policeman, has told the Cong an nhan dan (People's Police) Newspaper that despite his age, Loi spends many nights going on patrols with local police officers to discover traffickers.

Loi has also warned younger generations in his family against joining robbing and trafficking gangs.

Too many hours spoil the broth

It was a big bowl of soup, at least by national standards. On February 11, the record for the biggest bowl of hu tieu (rice noodle soup with pork, fish, and shrimp) soup ever made to date was set at the Spring Flower Festival in Sa Dec City, Dong Thap Province.

The bowl, 70cm tall, had a diameter of 150cm. Cooks used 100kg of rice noodles, 100kg of pork, fish and shrimp and 60 litres of broth to make the soup, which was to be served to about 1,000 visitors at the festival.

The making of the biggest bowl of soup was followed by an even bigger disappointment, though.

Because it was put on display for a mite too long, the soup went sour and had to be thrown away.

But let us look on the positive side and view it as another record: the biggest bowl of spoiled soup that turned a proverb on its head: It is not just haste that makes waste. — VNS

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