“I have one foot in the grave!” Toan moaned. “We’re so old now, we haven’t got long left” he burst out laughing coldly. “Well, still see Hien, don’t you? In my heart of hearts I still have a deep hatred for him.”“Shut up!” shouted Nhien, his ex-sweetheart. “Nonsense! How can you say that? You’re obsessed with death, aren’t you?” she asked him furiously before hanging up the call abruptly.Toan’s incoherent and bitter rantings at a late hour made her quite uneasy and exhausted. Come what may, he was one of her close classmates and, furthermore, her first lover.A few years before, he and his wife had divorced, leaving him to bring up their son. Unfortunately, the boy died of a drug overdose in prison while still a teenager. Despite all these hardships, she hadn’t realised how desperate his situation had become.Soon after, Toan died in deep distress.At the news of his death, she booked a … [Read more...] about The three friends’ story
What makes hair grow
Editor’s note: Giang Pham is currently studying in the Erasmus Mundus program for Master of Journalism, Media and Globalization in Denmark and Germany. He has also worked as a freelance photojournalist and writer for several media since 2013. Farewell, my friends!It was a Wednesday evening, October 12th 2016. At Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the main airport of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Viet Nguyen was bidding his farewell to his family and his friends before leaving for Germany on a 2-year Master Program in European Studies, European University of Flensburg. They gathered for a group photo, broadly smiled and gave Viet best wishes for his upcoming trip. Viet and his friends are a group of close friends, studying for a bachelor’s degree together in International Relations. Two months earlier, the group also stood here, saying goodbye to another classmate, Ha Phan. Ha left Vietnam in August for studying in the United States. However, she chose another path, she … [Read more...] about Vietnamese talents: Leave or stay?
On a faded notice pasted to the padlocked doors of the Lotte Mart superstore in China's Jiaxing, a date can still be read: March 6, 2017 - when the store was ordered to "temporarily" close over alleged fire safety issues. The shuttered entrance and flapping notices are a blunt reminder of how South Korean businesses have become unwitting victims in a year-long diplomatic stand-off between Beijing and Seoul. Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his South Korean counterpart that bilateral ties would suffer if Seoul did not properly handle China's opposition to the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defence system in South Korea. Now - with the system's installation mostly complete amid growing threats from North Korea - the fallout is evident in both the shuttered Chinese stores of Lotte and the empty Seoul shopping districts once jammed with Chinese tourists. The Jiaxing outlet, southwest of Shanghai - along with around 90 other Lotte Mart stores in China - remains … [Read more...] about Ghost stores, lost billions as Korea Inc’s China woes grow
Nourishment: Do Thanh Thuong waters coconut saplings in his garden. — VNS Photo Ngoc Tai by Ngoc Tai and Thuy HangDuring the last days of June, Do Thanh Thuong was elated as he watched the growing coconut trees in his garden.What he is about to do with them is a job that only a man like him, with a passion, mission and unlimited enthusiasm for the job could accomplish.Thuong has been asked to plant coconut trees in the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago and other islands in the country under the programme launched by the Viet Nam Coconut Association, of "100,000 coconut trees for the islands in Viet Nam". Leaving the Hung Phong ferry, we asked the way to Thuong's house in Hung Phong Commune, Giong Trom District, in the southern province of Ben Tre. "His house is right there," an elderly woman said, pointing it out to us. Cementing life with coconutsAs a title befitting the man, local residents have lovingly bestowed on Thuong the title of "Coconut King". Sixteen years … [Read more...] about Coconut King bound for Truong Sa glory
by Thu AnhMost of the time it is just a few feet or a metre below ground level, but for most of us, it is a world farther than the proverbial seven seas that we cross on non-stop flights.Many people in HCM City and other localities nationwide earn their living working underground in a series of sewers.The work that these people do – clearing drains and blocked pipes, is crucial to prevent flashfloods during heavy rains or overflow of the sewers in cases of blockage.In fact, their work is indispensable for us to lead our "normal" lives, and we take their work for granted, not bothering to acknowledge the reality below.For putting their health at risk and entering a dirty, stinking, polluted, dangerous environment day in day out, the workers are paid, on average, a measly VND1.5 million (US$75) a month.Tran Van Sau is one of hundreds of such workers employed by HCM City Sewage Company, who spend their days clearing nearly 800 kilometres of drains and sewers around the city.He works … [Read more...] about Kaleidoscope (25-03-2012)
This week: Since 2008, Earth Hour, a global event annually held on the last Saturday of March has attracted millions of participants across over a hundred countries around the world. By encouraging people to turn off their non-essential lights for an hour, the event hopes to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. In Viet Nam, the Earth Hour celebration helped save 500,000kWh in 2010 and 400,000 kWh in 2011, according to Electricity of Viet Nam. This year, the event will take place on March 31 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Despite its well-intended aim, the go-green initiative still faces criticism, even from electricity experts who say that turning off lights cause negative effects such as increased carbon dioxide emissions from candle use, petroleum exhaustion via youth racing round town in celebration and traffic jams. Do you celebrate Earth Hour every year, and how? Do you think the … [Read more...] about Who’s afraid of the new Korean pop music craze?
Nineteen-year-old Nguyen Thi Xuan Thuy has asked local authorities in Can Tho City's Cai Rang District to intervene after her family found out that her estranged husband, Nguyen Phuc Duy, was about to marry another woman. On Duy's second wedding day last month, Thuy's family even went along and presented a wedding photo of Thuy and Duy in the middle of the party at the new bride's house.Thuy said Duy's wedding to another woman caught her completely by surprise, despite the fact the couple argued bitterly a month after their wedding. She has been living at her parents' house since then.Thuy recalls that three years ago, Duy's father and her father arranged for them to marry without asking them first. Conforming to their parent's wishes, the couple got hitched at a big ceremony at the beginning of last year, months before Thuy graduated from high school. However, just days after the big wedding, the groom accused her of having lost her virginity to another man on the grounds of a … [Read more...] about Fathers don’t always know best
Illustration by Dao Quoc Huy by Vo Thu HuongWhen the door to the cold gyno-obstetric room closed, I noticed Giang's sorrowful look directed right at me. My eyes brimming with tears, I lay down on the couch covered with a white bedspread."The first time?" the old obstetrician asked me softly, pushing her glasses a bit higher up her nose."No! It's the second time," I answered timidly."Why are you crying like that?" she asked me again with compassion. Yet the pang of pain remained.Indeed, what did I have to cry about? The first time I cried when my stillborn five-month-old twins were removed from my belly. Sadly, we had already thought a lot about possible names, one boy and one girl. During that period of time, my husband would often buy a bunch of … [Read more...] about The purple window-pane
If fishing boats are in trouble in the sea off Khanh Hoa Province, sailors call for Mai Kha Duc. He is always there to help them and knows all about fixing boats' engines when they break down. Duc loves his job and he works very hard at it, often putting himself into danger out on the water. Choppy commute: The Fishing Logistics Service Centre at Da Tay Island where Duc works. - VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Thuy by Manh Tuan When their ships suffer damage during a voyage, the Vietnamese fishermen of Da Tay Island go looking for one man. Mai Kha Duc, the mechanic they call 'doctor', has built up a reputation as a dedicated supporter of the local seafarers who has bravely saved lives and livelihoods through his work time and time again. Duc works for the Bien Dong (East Sea) Seafood Services Company, which operates in the waters around Da Tay Island in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago of Khanh Hoa … [Read more...] about Meet the fixer of fishing boats
by Di LiOne morning the young mother came to see me again regarding a matter concerning her recently-deceased son. I was rather irritated with her entreaty. At first, she just made a request, then she moved on to making a proposal and finally she begged by kneeling down in front of me to ask for a special favour: to provide her poor son with a place in the high burial ground set aside for the elite. With her face drenched with sweat and her unkempt hair falling over he shoulders, she looked at me beseechingly, as if I were an authoritative saviour. But in fact, I was nothing but the landscape architect for this weird cemetery and her request was beyond my power. All I could do was stare at her in despair although I felt extremely sympathetic about the unfortunate destiny of her seven-year-old son who had been as … [Read more...] about A cemetery for the living