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Ladder houses return to Ha Noi

Update: May, 26/2015 - 09:14

A 565-metre extension to Nguyen Van Huyen Street in Cau Giay has led to the street being called the most expensive in Ha Noi. The section, connecting Nguyen Khanh Toan and Cau Giay streets, cost nearly VND1 trillion (US$46.2 million) including VND680 billion ($31.4 million) for site clearance compensation.

The work mainly involved cutting one apartment building in half, leaving it less than a couple of metres wide and one to one-and-a-half metres above the new road surface. To gain entry to their homes, some residents have erected wooden ladders from the road to their doorsteps.

Resident Nguyen Thi Ngoan, who is in her 70s, complained that she had to climb the ladder several times a day. She is also concerned that if she wants to let her shrunken house, few would be willing to rent such a place.

The gap between the road and the house's entrances is not the only issue troubling locals. The site clearance process has left some homes looking like dolls' houses, with small rooms cut down even further in size.

One resident, Cham, now has a house that is 10.8 metres long and, believe it or not, just 14 centimetres (six inches) wide at its narrowest. The only thing Cham can do now is sell her tiny dwelling.

The odd thing is that even though her home and others around it are a bit of a joke, their new street frontage gives them a certain market edge. Oi gioi oi! (Oh my God)

How much is a husband worth?

Two women in An Giang Province's Phu Thuan District are suing each other over VND50 million (US$2,300) one of them paid to the other to "lease" her husband. Bui Thi Hien fell in love with Thuong when he came around to repair the lonely woman's house in 2010.

When Thuong's wife, Bui Thi Nhi, learned of the relationship, she got involved in several fights with Hien in an effort to get her man back. However, her efforts failed as Hien refused to let Thuong leave her side.

Hien then offered to pay Nhi VND50 million to return her errant husband. Nhi, who had three children to raise and an 80-year-old mother-in-law to look after, reluctantly accepted. All three, the two women and the man, signed an agreement stating that Nhi agreed to let her husband live with Hien. The scene calmed down.

Then two years later, Thuong decided he had had enough of being semi-captive ran back home to his real wife. However, Lady Number Two complained of a broken heart and breach of contract. She went to Nhi (Lady Number One) to ask for either "her man" or her money back.

As Nhi refused to pay, saying that the money had been used to help her raise her children and support her mother-in-law for two years. Hien took Nhi to court, asking for VND50 million- plus interest.

The court ruled that Nhi must pay Hien the money back as a transaction had been made between the three. Nhi appealed against the court's decision, saying that as her husband had lived with Hien for a long period, the money had already been paid back.

Lawyers are now trying to clarify whether the husband was an asset or some sort of living mortgage during the transaction.

Better late than never

Vietnamese have a saying: Mat bo moi lo lam chuong, or "No use to lock the stable door after the horse is stolen." Authorities in northern Quang Ninh Province's Dong Trieu town feel the same way after the town's modernistic, central sculpture snapped after being hit by a thunderbolt recently.

The VND25 billion (US$1.1 million) sculpture was 18m high and weighed 1,000 tonnes. It was presented to the people and soldiers of the town, together with a tower. It was placed at the crossroads between Dong Trieu Town and Hong Phong Commune. Construction started in 2010 and finished in July last year.

The sculpture was struck by a thunderbolt on the morning of May 16, breaking off a big block of stone weighing hundreds of kilos. It fell from the top of the statue and broke the sculpture's footings.

Authorities realised that the sculpture did not have a lightning-conductor to protect it during storms. Now they have decided to install one when they repair the town's centrepiece. — VNS

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