Vietnamese say that the top four pleasures in life are eating, sleeping, sex and ... going to the toilet. But the last pleasure became a nightmare for a group of recent bus travellers on National Highway 1A.
As some buses have no toilet facilities and as there are few roadside toilets, the bus had to pull up in the middle of nowhere at night to give passengers a chance to relieve themselves in central Quang Ngai's Duc Pho district .
But the flows of hot liquid startled a big nest of hornets. At least 22 passengers were stung in unmentionable places. The bus had to rush for five kilometres to take them to a healthcare station.
Six of the passengers suffered from extreme swelling and high fever. After a few hours, the symptoms eased and the bus was able to continue on its way.
Every doc has his day
Doctors across the country celebrated the sixtieth an-nual Doctors' Day on February 27. Dong Hoi City General Hospital in the central province of Quang Binh felt the occasion was so important it prepared a special celebration.
It placed a notice on the hospital gate inform would-be patients that the hospital would be closed for the whole day. "Only emergencies accepted," it said.
Following many complaints, the hospital director explained that all staff attended the celebration so the hospital had to close.
It appears there is no special day for patients!
Festival becomes a fight
Video has been posted on social websites featuring a festival about Saint Giong in Ha Noi's Soc Son District. The saint, one of the four major saints in Viet Nam, is said to have lived about 1,600BC at a time when a neighbouring tribe, the An, were trying to invade.
At three years of age, Giong unexpectedly gained the ability to talk and requested the king to arm him. The villagers fed the little boy and he quickly grew into a magnificent man.
The king's blacksmiths made Giong a set of iron armour, an iron sword and iron whips - and, of course, an iron horse. The saint rode out on the beast and defeated the invaders. Giong and his horse then ascended to heaven.
The highlight of the present festival centres around offering artificial bamboo flowers to the saint. The flowers are carried by sedan chair from the Thuong Temple and down to the neighbouring Ha Temple as offerings to the saint.
After the procession, villagers and visitors race and struggle to get the bamboo flowers as a lucky gift for the New Year. However, this year, an ugly melee developed among a group of young men and a team of security guards carrying long bamboo poles.
In a flash, hundreds of youths swamped the procession, grabbing bamboo flowers from the sedan chair only a few metres from its destination. Some of the young men also used wooden sticks to hit the security guards. The fun festival quickly became an all-in brawl and the sedan chair was pushed around wildly.
The video has attracted hundreds of comments. Most described the incident as too violent for a religious and cultural event. Tran Ngoc Them, head of information for the Institute of Social Sciences, agreed, saying the young men were like angry robbers.
However, according to the vice-chairman of Soc Son District's People's Committee, Le Huu Manh, the incident reflected tradition. An official document was issued later stating that there was no fighting at the festival.
So, just where do festival organisers draw the line between tradtional fun play and wild fighting? Perhaps some readers can explain just how things were done in the past. Did things ever get out of hand like they did last week. Is this why the processional guards dressed in yellow carry such long sticks?
This reminds us of another fight in Binh Phuoc Province between two deputy directors of the Department of Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs. A provincial official asserted that there had been no brawl. It happened, he said, when a clumsy official hit his head on another person's glass of beer!.
Giong festival is a traditional festival annually celebrated in many localities within Ha Noi to commemorate and honor the scared feat of the legendary hero Saint Giong, one of four immortals in Viet Nam's religious beliefs. — VNS