by Phuong Mai
Inspirational writer overcomes disability
"I hate the fact that I'm motionless while everything around me moves," Vu Ngoc Anh writes in his 290-page autobiography, which has received widespread acclaim from young readers in the country. "I don't want to fall behind everyone. I wanted to face my destiny and win over it."
The 28-year-old man, who suffers from brittle bone disease, said his first book, Khong The Vo (Unbreakable), has sparked a chord in the physically disabled, encouraging them to be brave and stay strong.
Anh's book, released last month by publishing house Thanh Nien (Young People), features his difficulties of more than 10 years to overcome bone marrow failure. His energy and love for life and people are evident.
Born to a poor family in Hai Phong City, Anh faced challenges studying. While his friends were discovering the world through school and play, Anh knew his bones could break at any time.
"I couldn't believe my unfortunate destiny. I was too young to accept my fate. But my life is real. I'm a sick person who lives in a wheelchair," Anh writes in his book, saying that he broke his bones 150 times, and only optimism helped him to continue.
In 2005, Anh left home to live alone in Ha Noi, where he did different jobs to earn a living. He said he didn't want to be a burden to his parents.
"To be free from my situation, I chose writing because it increases my energy," said Anh in an interview with local media prior to his book release in Ha Noi.
"After reading my work, I hope my readers will live more useful lives because life is priceless," he said.
Anh is now working as a web administrator for www.vozforums.com, the country's leading hardware forum.
"Anh's life has taught my friend and me how to share with everyone," said Nguyen Thi Thuy, a first-year student at HCM City University of Law, one of hundreds of Anh's readers. The 19 year-old student said that "people can recognize through the book that something is more valuable than wealth and we should live useful lives".
"Anh and his stories engage young people's minds and make reading educational," she said.
Traditional sweets hold their own against foreign candy
Vietnamese confectionery brands are outselling foreign products in the run-up to Tet (Lunar New Year). In HCM City, big brands like Bao Hien Rong Vang, Tri Duc, Duc Hanh and Linh Anh have improved quality, added new products and offered competitive prices.
In wholesale markets like Ben Thanh, An Dong, Tan Dinh, Binh Tay and Kim Bien, traditional sugared kumquat, lotus, coconut, squash, soursop and sweet potato are popular. Supply is 5 per cent up from last year, and prices are 10-15 per cent higher.
Most are competitively priced at VND120,000 -190,000 (US$6-10) per kilogram.
Tran Thi Tuyet, who owns a stall in Ben Thanh Market, said though confectioneries from Thailand, Malaysia, Switzerland and the US are being bought by affluent customers, traditional sugared products or mut are doing remarkably well.
"Traditionally, Vietnamese like using sugar-coated preserves in Tet. They believe the sweet flavour will bring good luck in the New Year," she said.
According to Tuyet, purchases in Ben Thanh increased 70 per cent compared to last month.
The city's Department of Health has ordered market and health officials to closely monitor food hygiene and safety before Tet.
Its inspectors are focusing on sugared fruits and other processed foods, as well as looking out for fakes, smuggled goods, expired food products and products without labels or origin.
Market officials, however, said the task was difficult as they lacked sufficient number of preventive-health staff.
There are only 500 health officials to inspect more than 10,200 food production facilities in the city. — VNS