Married women from the Black Thai ethnic group in northern Dien Bien Province can't wear motor-bike helmets because of the traditional bun they wear on their heads. The bun indicates the women are married and untying it is considered an unfaithful act. Normally, the bun is about 10 centi-metres high and tightly bound.
Giang Pao Sinh, head of the traffic police unit in the province, said the Thais did not want to breach the law, but at the same time did not want to go against custom and tradition. So, they perch the helmet on top of their hair buns, which is far from a stable arrangement and the protective headgear can easily fall off. Duong Anh Tai, a representative from helmet manufacturer Protect admitted last week that the helmet failed to protect the women's heads."The helmets only protect their buns," Tai said.
Vice chairman of National Safety Committee, Khuat Viet Hung, said that the committee planned to launch a contest seeking an appropriate helmet design for women wearing buns. He believes that about one per cent of Viet Nam's population are in a similar situation.
He also said that the committee would work with Ministry of Science and Technology about designs, standards for helmets tailored for women who want to stick to tradition.
Seeing photos of married Black Thai women wearing helmets, a friend of mine suggested making a helmet with a hole in the top. She said that a helmet modification had already been made to accept the ponytail, so a hole in the top would be no bother!
Bridge worth looking at
Commuters to and from southern Can Tho City to Vinh
Long Province prefer crossing the Hau River by ferry rather than using the US$342.6 million Can Tho Bridge, online newspaper Vietnamnet reports.
The bridge, which opened in 2010, was expected to help improve traffic and economic development in the Mekong Delta. It was also expected to improve road safety by replacing river ferries.
However, Binh Minh ferry, about five kilometres away from the bridge, is still overcrowded, carrying thousands of people daily. Nguyen Thi Hong, a resident in Binh Tan District, Vinh Long Province, said she travelled to Can Tho City's Ninh Kieu District by ferry daily to sell trung vit lon (half-hatched duck eggs). "It's faster and cheaper to travel by ferry than using the bridge," she said.
Another resident in Binh Tan District, Tran Van Hung, said that he was happy to see the Can Tho Bridge open, but still preferred the ferry. "When travelling by ferry, we can see much. When travelling on the bridge, we have to concentrate on controlling the vehicle," he said. "No sightseeing."
Work on Can Tho Bridge began in September 2004 and was initially scheduled to replace the existing ferry service by the end of 2008. But an accident in September, 2007, caused the bridge to collapse, killing 56 workers. Construction was suspended for several months and consumer interest never eventuated. — VNS