Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers about the pros and cons of firecrackers during Tet (lunar new year) celebrations at a time when the Government is considering a return of the legal use of firecrackers after 18 years of being banned.
Tourism experts waxed lyrical about the financial potential of helicopter tours in Viet Nam at a conference in June, arguing that these tours would allow visitors to enjoy remote spots and discover the country in a fresh way.
Helicopter travel in Viet Nam, along with other adventurous activities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing, is not currently well promoted due to high costs and extensive safety requirements. More common types of adventure travel are mountaineering, mountain biking and trekking.
The best known helicopter tour in Viet Nam is organised in Ha Long Bay, the country's popular UNESCO heritage site. The fare for a 15-minute ride is reportedly about US$90.
Are you interested in helicopter tours and other types of adventure travel? Have you ever tried any of these in Viet Nam? What were your experiences like?
How do you think Viet Nam should promote different types of adventure travel, such as helicopter tours?
Is this form of tourism popular in your country and how is it promoted to attract travellers?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, June 27, 2013. — VNS
The proposed firecrackers to be used are known as "quiet" firecrackers which are produced with non-combustible and non-explosive chemicals to produce noise — but nothing too loud.
Here are some responses we have received.
John McDonald, Australian, Ha Noi
Why ban firecrackers? They have been used in celebrations in Viet Nam for hundreds of years and can be classed as part of the culture.
However, the loss of fingers, eyes and other body parts means that these deadly little packages should be only used by trained people at the appropriate times, whether it be Tet, weddings, funerals or national celebrations. This way, no harm is done and everyone has fun.
By the way, firecrackers apparently began when bamboo tubes were thrown into village fires to scare away dogs or attackers more than 2,000 years ago.
By the second century, the bamboo tubes were being filled with a mixture of sulphur, charcoal dust and salt, which exploded with an even louder bang. This was even better for frightening away invaders or malevolent spirits.
By the fifth century AD in China, cardboard tubes began to replace bamboo - and the rest is history - long chains of fireworks at festivals, and rockets for warfare and eventually outer space.
Huong Thieu Huyen, Ha Noi
Firecrackers used to be part of New Year celebrations and weddings in Viet Nam as I remembered. When I was a child, I was usually very excited to see adults burn firecrackers and their residue reddening the front yard. As a child, I found colourful firecrackers and their explosions to be something magical.
Since 1995, the Government banned production, trade and the use of firecrackers, which seemingly made Tet celebration less exciting.
Many people have complained about the absence of firecrackers during Tet. And very often, they recalled the "old times" when most families lit firecrackers to welcome the New Year, especially at New Year's Eve, despite the Government-run fireworks shows every New Year's Eve or fireworks festival such as the one in central Da Nang City.
However, for years now we have celebrated the New Year or weddings without firecrackers. We have become used to it. Let me say that many people now are happy with the ban. Firecrackers can bring more colour and sound to Tet celebrations but they are too dangerous. I saw and have heard about many people getting burnt or losing a part of their body because of a firecracker explosion.
I wonder if the new type of quiet and non-explosive fireworks are dangerous, and if so, I would rather celebrate Tet without any firecrackers as we have had in recent years. Moreover, I'm sure that the quiet fireworks will not be as attractive as the "noisy" ones.
I don't think the comeback of fireworks could make Tet truly traditional. Traditional Tet, to me, is a true family gathering when people spend time with each other or just take time to relax. We still have chung cake and peach or apricot flowers, it's enough.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Quiet and non-explosive fireworks make as much sense as a dog that doesn't bark or a cat without claws. True, they will be safer, but what's a few innocent children getting injured to stop tradition?
Celebrations in the Philippines include firing guns straight up into the air. Gravity pulls them back down, landing each year on the top of people's heads. A few die - I guess they were not lucky.
Thailand's Songkran New Year death race helps remove hundreds of family members. The usual reasons include speeding on motorcycles down highways without helmets, but with alcohol. More bad luck.
I read about improperly stored fireworks burning down factories or even houses. Dying over a holiday celebration should not be a tradition. Viet Nam is noisy and chaotic enough. Celebrate smartly. Question tradition. Safety first.
Do Chi Son Linh, Ha Noi
The reason the Government is considering reintroducing some types of fireworks is that the tradition of using firecrackers has been engraved in every resident's memory. The rule of prohibiting fireworks implemented since 1995 has reduced people's passion and the excitement of Tet in recent years.
Despite the prohibition, many people still break the law and use fireworks during the Tet holiday, particularly in the young. People who do so are often injured due to the poor quality of smuggling fireworks.
I believe that allowing use of fireworks widely during the Tet holiday and legalising the fireworks market could enhance their quality and safety and help protect consumers. Furthermore, this could bring a new sense to our traditional holiday and tighten inter-personal relationships among people.
I believe that with the comeback of fireworks, our Tet holiday will become much more exhilarating and bring a unique identity to our nation, especially impressing tourists and boosting domestic tourism.
Hoa Thanh Tung, Ha Noi
I hate the noise. Civilised people can always have fun without too much noise. A happy Tet festival, to me, may exist in the light smoke of the incense, the smell of delicious food and wine, the mild coldness of the early morning with smiling faces greeting each other. Besides, tradition does not mean maintaining dangerous or outdated practices! Do you want to wear a loin cloth and stay half naked during the festival?
Joey Kaplan, Ha Noi
Firecracker should be part of the lunar New Year celebration, without it, much of the atmosphere is lost, making New Year days almost the same as normal weekdays. It provides three important contributions, sound, smell and sight (the red flakes of the crackers). But we must fully appreciate the dangers of using fireworks. Therefore, the win-win solution is to allow for the use of fireworks on New Year's eve, New Year's day and the second day of the New Year. Any use of fireworks at other times should be illegal.
Nguyen Thu Phuong, Ha Noi
Tet is a truly traditional festival for our country. It will be more exciting if we are allowed to have firecrackers again. The suggested firecrackers this time are the quiet and non-explosive ones.
Somebody said that quiet and non-explosive firecrackers are like a deaf man. I don't agree. I am scared of the explosive sound from firecrackers. I am also scared of being hurt. Of course the sound of firecrackers would make a truly traditional Tet. However, safety is the first. We should protect ourselves first. — VNS