University professor Dinh Van Thuan dreams of producing an alcohol-free beer, the first of its kind in Viet Nam. According to Thuan, the investment is bound to pay off, especially as authorities have tightened controls on drunk driving and the Ministry of Health is drafting a ban on liquor sales after 10pm to curb alcohol abuse.
Thuan's company, the Sai Gon-Binh Tay Beer Joint Stock Company, has even installed foreign-imported equipment capable of producing 1,000 litres of booze-free booze an hour.The company plans to sell its product for about VND12,000 (50 US cents) per can - about the same price as local canned beer.
Thuan said he would launch a promotion campaign to boost sales, adding that he had downed 2.5 litres of the liquid and "felt fine" - and presumably, stone-cold sober.
This might be the answer to the high consumption of alcohol and beer in Viet Nam, which has one of the highest consumptions of alcoholic beverages in Asia. The habit is estimated to cost $3 billion a year in sales and gets much of the blame for drunk driving, which caused 60 per cent of the nation's traffic accidents.
Unfortunately, beer drinkers don't seem to agree with all this. On social networks and online news websites, hundreds of people have outlined why they are strongly opposed to the "safe" drink. They said drinking was not all about slaking their thirst, but a way of forgetting about the miseries of real life and having a bit of fun.
They said that they'd rather drink tra da (iced Vietnamese tea), bean juice or mineral water than beer without alcohol.
Lift tickets please!
The use of lifts in Viet Nam leads rise to a collection of stories almost as interesting as life on the roads.
In high-storey apartment buildings, parents can sometimes be seen going up and down in the lifts with a hot bowl of rice soup in one hand and a petulant child in the other. It seems that lifts are now seen as a toy to coax children to eat. Sometimes, the left-over is spilt all over the lift floor, giving cleaners an extra job.
In hospitals, especially those in big cities, the situation was getting out of control as patients and relatives pushed their way in and out, leading to overloading.
To limit their use, many hospitals, including the general hospital in southern Phu Yen Province, Hospital 115 and the General Hospital in HCM City's District 6, and Hue Central Hospital in Hue City now collect about VND2,000 (9 cents) from all users.
According to hospitals, the money will be spent on regular maintenance for the overworked machines. And to collect it, a staff worker will be on duty inside the lift to collect the fares.
In Ha Noi's Cancer Hospital, all lifts even have a sign saying "Patients Only". Only those with serious illnesses and of course, a relative, are allowed to use them.
Other relatives, or visitors, are welcome to use the staircase!
Thieves leave four walls
A man in Xuan Tho Commune in Da Lat City found his house had almost vanished while he was away for a month. Ly Van Di said he was flabbergasted to see his one-storey house reduced to four walls.
All his pots, pans, boots, water tanks, iron gate, fencing, metal roofing and windows were gone plus, of course, an old motorbike.
The problem, according to police, was that the house was built far from residential areas and hidden behind pine trees. — VNS