Huệ Anh, a mother of 16-year-old daughter still have been haunted by the death of seven  youngsters at a music festival held in Hà Nội’s West Lake Water Park last month.

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Funky balloons are no laughing matter in Việt Nam

October 09, 2018 - 09:00

Huệ Anh, a mother of 16-year-old daughter still have been haunted by the death of seven  youngsters at a music festival held in Hà Nội’s West Lake Water Park last month.

Funky balls are selling online via social networking sites.— Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Huệ Anh faced every mother’s nightmare when he teenage daughter asked to go to a music festival last month.

The 16-year-old wanted to party with friends at the event in West Lake Water Park.

Anh put her foot down and said no. Her daughter probably wasn’t best pleased but her mother had laid down the law.

Seven people died at that festival of suspected drug overdoses. Thankfully for Anh, her daughter wasn’t one of them.

Police have gathered evidence that suggests other revelers at the rave that night had taken balloons, more commonly known as ‘’hippy crack’ or ‘funky balls’.

They contain nitrous oxide, or laughing gas to give it it’s street name.

Anh told the Tin tức online newspaper: “I said no because I didn’t know enough about the festival or what would be going on there.”

She said she feared the fact that her child would give into temptation, and partake in either illegal, or legal but still dangerous, substances.

“It’s hard for the children to resist the temptation to try it,” she added.

A student in a Hà Nội – based university, who wants to remain anonymous, said she often went to streets of Tạ Hiện and Lương Ngọc Quyến to met with her friends at the weekend.

“Sometimes, I also tried funky balls,” she admitted.

Doctor Nguyễn Minh Tuấn of the National Institute of Mental Health told Việt Nam News the balls contained nitrogen oxide, which causes hallucination and could be categorised as a sedative. Usual complications which might occur include respiratory distress, heart attack which could lead to death.

Besides of funky balls, it’s very easy to see urban youngsters smoking shisha in coffee shops in a range of streets in the city, including Nhà Thờ, Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Xà Đàn and Thanh Xuân.

Shisha smoking also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. The tube ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke from the substances being burnt into their lungs.


Vũ Thu Hương, of the Hà Nội National University of Education, said youngsters often wanted to prove themselves by two ways, one was positive and another was negative.

However, due to lack of experiences and knowledge, they were vulnerable to temptation, some even became criminals, she said.

Poor connection between parents and children were also blamed for the situation, she said.

A lot of temptation appearing in the current living environment was one of the reasons, she said.

Khuất Thị Hải Oanh, deputy director of the Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, said that universities and colleges now failed to provide law-related knowledge for students.

The schools also lacked of healthy forums, activities and space for students to connect with each other, she said.

Another reason was the authority had not promptly reacted to and somehow belittled the problem, Tuấn from the National Institute of Mental Health said.

“The authority hasn’t promptly reacted to and somehow belittled the problem,” he said.

“For example, crystal meth, ecstasy have been categorised as a type of drug, but laughing gas is not.

“The authority has not banned the trading, storing and production of the substance, which leads to the problem. You can see in many festivals, people openly sell funky balls without any troubles.”


Tôn Ngọc Khánh, a student of Banking Academy Institute, said schools need to organise more outdoor activities for students so that they could have more space to develop their social skills as well as improve their physical health towards a healthy lifestyle.

Trần Tiến Dũng, a student of the Hà Nội University of Agriculture said forums to discuss on social evils should be held more in schools. It was expected to help students share their comments and ways to protect themselves from the social evils.

Nguyễn Thiên Tú, deputy head of Young People Committee under the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union, said activities held for students and youngsters should send a particular message to encourage them to say no with unhealthy trends.

Oanh, from the Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, suggested that it was necessary to fill up education gaps for young people and students. Schools had to focus on educating law and regulations for them in the coming time.

Only when they had full knowledge about the law and regulations, they would actively protect themselves from temptation appearing more and more in the modern society, she said.

Colonel Bùi Đức Thiêm, of the Ministry of Public Security’s Drug Crime Investigation Department, told Việt Nam News that currently, the Government only ordered authorised agencies to strictly manage the usage of nitrogen oxide instead of banning.

There were only several countries in the world listing the substance into their management list, he said.

Because if we banned the usage of the substance, it would partly impact to the country’s social-economic development, he said.

Thus, Thiêm suggested the Government and relevant agencies to tighten controls on activities of trading, storing and production of the substances in the coming time.

Thiêm also highly recommended young people to think carefully before trying substances that they did not know well about. — VNS