by Van Dat
Lime tea, the new craze
There is a new hobby among HCM City's teenagers – sitting with their friends and drinking lime tea on the pavement.
Most of the shops selling the tea have boards saying "tra chanh chem gio" meaning "lime tea and jokes."
A stranger could be forgiven for thinking the shops also sell humour. But no, you can't buy jokes and, it appears, are merely required to crack a few.
Whatever they are selling, they are all the rage and have sprouted up everywhere.
On many streets, it is not unusual to find dozens of them.
In Go Vap District some streets like Nguyen Thai Son seem to have one outside practically every door.
In the downtown area the hot spots are Le Thi Rieng, Pham Ngoc Thach, Nguyen Du and Tran Quang Khai streets.
Of course, there are also adults giving the new fad a try.
What is not clear is why it suddenly started about a month ago.
It could be because the tea is a healthy drink; maybe it is just a way to beat the early summer heat; it is probably the sweet and sour taste.
But surely none of this was discovered just last month.
Lime tea with ice has for long been a favourite among Ha Noi teenagers. Maybe their HCM City cousins are merely looking to catch up.
Whatever it is, they are on to a winner. How else can they spend quality time with friends for just VND5,000-7,000 a pop?
At least 300 women in An Giang Province in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta work as xe om, or motorbike-taxi, drivers, a job often associated with men.
They have become such a unique sight that more tourists to the province's Cam Mount, the roof of the Delta, seem to gawk at them than at the beautiful landscape.
The female drivers do not operate anywhere else except to the mountain top, a difficult ride at best, and only take female passengers.
Vo Thi Phan said her friends and relatives had advised her against taking up the job.
She not only ignored them, but also persuaded 20 other women to join her group.
Astonishing lost and found story
Cao Van Quan, 46, of Quang Ninh Province has recently been in the news for something that happened to him two decades ago.
He was 10 when his mother disappeared one day. His father remarried but died soon afterwards. His stepmother abandoned Quan who had to scrape a living on his own.
When he was 13 he met his mother's associate who told him she had recently seen her in China's Guangdong Province.
He asked her to take him to China, though he did not have a penny in his pocket or know a word of Chinese.
She took him along with two other girls and promptly sold the latter to local men.
Since she could not sell him, he was forced to stay in her house for a year and work off the cost of travelling to China.
Finally she took him to a nearby village to meet his mother. It was true – his mother was alive and well.
She was married to a local man.
Quan worked hard to save money and take her back to Viet Nam, but she refused saying her husband was too kind to walk out on.
In 1993, five years after he went to China, he decided to use his savings to "buy" a 20-year-old girl who had been sold to an 80-year-old man. The trafficked girl, Nguyen Thi Tuyen, is now his wife.
The couple now live in Bac Giang Province as farmers. VNS