Tourists, especially backpackers, who love drinking beer at night on Vietnamese streets might soon have to think twice. The Health Ministry is hoping to introduce a ban on selling beers or any alcoholic beverages after 10pm. This is part of a draft law to stop the ill effects of booze on the community, particularly in lowering the dreadful number of roads deaths.
The ministry has suggested banning alcohol sales between 10pm and 6am. The draft law would also ban the sale of alcohol for those under age 18. Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding children would also be forbidden to drink.
Yes, yes, Vietnamese are heavy drinkers. Last year, they drank more than three billion litres of beer, ranking them third per capital in Asia after Japan and China. This is reflected in the numbers of bia hoi parlours that have mushroomed in the last five or six years.
However, stopping them drinking may be a bigger problem than the ministry realises. Obviously, to have any meaning, the ruling would have to be monitored throughout the nation - at zillions of outlets from beer shops to bars, karaoke parlours and restaurants.
Do we have enough staff to monitor these places? Obviously not. And how would a ban affect the tourism and entertainment industries, which largely thrive at night?
Already many long-term foreign residents are feeling the boredom of having nowhere to drink or socialise after midnight. In the last two years, a city-wide clampdown has gradually but effectively been installed, nipping off almost all established bars in the Old Quarter.
Talk about killing the goose!
People resort to banners
In a country where traffic laws are largely ignored, one makeshift banner is not likely to make much difference. Residents living along two sides of Phong Chau Road in Nha Trang City have been driven mad by monster trucks grinding down the muddy track every day, shaking their houses.
So they made a makeshift banner that says: "Grandpa drivers, please slow down your truck!" The banner was placed on a stick and inserted in a pile of rocks.
We wonder how long it will last, or even if the truck drivers see it or care about it. Even though the banner has no validity in law, we applaud the residents' actions. What else can they do?
Hundreds more noisy roads throughout Viet Nam deserve their own special banners. So do the buildings where workmen use screaming jackhammers and drills throughout the night.
Party time is over
Thanh Hoa market officers yesterday fined two hotels in Sam Son tourism area - the Thanh Dat and Nam Hoi - a total of VND30 million (US$1,500) - for forcing several tourists staying in them to eat on the premises. The visitors were reportedly assaulted, insulted and threatened.
Sam Son, a pretty resort in northern Thanh Hoa, was once extremely popular. Now it has gained a reputation for ripping tourists off. Anyone who tries to take a photo of anything on or near the beach is pushed to pay at least VND100,000 ($5). One woman said she and her son were charged VND200,000 ($10) for taking a picture in front a sand castle.
Nguyen Huu Binh, head of the market watch team 2, told Dan Tri newspaper that a total of VND217 million in fines had been handed out to various places in Sam Son since the beginning of the summer.
However, more must be done. The once relaxing beach has become a place for financial predators - not much fun if you are trying to get away from the horrors of the cities. — VNS