Vietnam is situated on the Indochina Peninsula of South East Asia. It became a Chinese province in 111 BC. The Chinese supremacy lasted over a millennium, till 938 AD. Therefore, China greatly influenced the further development of the Vietnamese nation, forming its culture, religious and national traditions, philosophy and even cuisine. Vietnam is one of the most populated countries in the world. It has ninety and half million people and takes the thirteenth place in the world. Vietnam has a dramatic history, surviving the French colonization, the Japanese occupation, the division of the country and the bloodiest Vietnam War, which ended with the unification of the country and the establishment of the Communist totalitarian regime. Its GDP is 187.848 billion US dollars, which is the fifty-fourth in the world. Anyway, it is only 2 thousand and seventy-two US dollars per capita, which makes the country the 133rd in the world. Over 54 million people are the labor force of Vietnam. 48 percent of them is in agriculture, while 21 percent in industry and 31 percent in services. Therefore, Vietnam is agricultural country with 3.1 percent unemployment rate.
The Vietnamese healthcare is of extremely low quality, as the country spends only 2.5 percent of GDP on it. As a matter of fact, I expected to see Vietnam as a country with dynamic developing economy, but I have seen a rural country with a couple of modern cities and backward villages and small towns around them. Streets of Hanoi are full of motorbikes. They are very noisy and people have to walk into a continuous stream of such vehicles. It is very dangerous and a foreigner feels a great discomfort because many streets do not have pavements because motorbikes are the major transportation for millions of Vietnamese. At the same time, Vietnamese cherish their culture and traditions. They have beautiful pagodas, palaces, historical monuments and wonderful sightseeing, but their devotion to the Communist idea, which denies private property, struck me most of all. Vietnam will never become one of the Asian economic giants because the Communist ideology retards its further development, creating all opportunities for corruption and monopolization of its economy.
Vietnamese resemble children. They smile, chatter, joke and are happy with their life. I think they do not know a feeling of disgust. Thus, they can butcher quails on the pavement in front of the café or restaurant not paying any attention to the people walking around. Consequently, a pile of freshly picked quails in the middle of the pavement, feathers and dirty water are under the feet of passers-by, bad smell, flies, and mud make a very negative impression, especially on tourists. Some Vietnamese streets resemble an endless market, where thousands of pitchers offer their goods. They smile to passers-by, offering their numerous wares. Of course, it is very pleasant, when people give you smiles, but nobody knows what they actually think of you. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to meet angry or rough persons. Vietnamese religious feasts left indelible impressions, when hundreds of people in disguise performed scenes from life of their saints, carried a dragon with music and songs. It was a real carnival with squibs and fireworks. One of the most famous showplaces is the One Pillar Pagoda, where one of the Vietnamese emperors met the Buddhist deity, Avalkatishvara, who helped him become a father. Vietnam is a country where ancient legends continue living in the modern life and the trustful and industrious Vietnamese people believe that Buddhism, Confucianism and Communism will bring them a paradise. Meanwhile, the Confucian Temple of Literature is worth mentioning because it is a real learning center, which dates back to the ancient epoch. Nowadays, the Confucian ideology plays a decisive role in the lifestyle of the modern Vietnamese nation, devoted to the Communist political idea. Thus, their national hero is Ho Chi Minh, who considered the Father of the Nation, who united the country. They cherish his memory, having built the museum of his life and struggle, and the mausoleum, in which he lies embalmed.
Phonetics of Vietnamese language is very specific. Moreover, Vietnamese words are unlike those in Farsi, Turkish or Azerbaijani languages. Far less they resemble English or Arabic words. It is very difficult to repeat some Vietnamese words due to their specific pronunciation. They seem to repeat sounds of infants, who cannot speak. Nevertheless, Vietnamese learn Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean and Russian languages. Nowadays, English language is popular in Vietnam. It has started since the beginning of the 2000s, when the Communists designed the so-called socialist-market national economy. Therefore, tourists from every corner of the world cannot feel any language barriers. At the same time, the Chinese culture greatly influenced the further development of Vietnamese language. For example, they used the Chinese characters to the late of the nineteenth century, and only the French colonization led to creating the modern Vietnamese alphabet, based on the Latin letters. Today, one can see how Vietnamese use characters in their Confucian temples. Time seems to stop there. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world. They eat everything without any disgust. For example, Vietnamese cookers kill dogs on public to make dishes from them. They consider snake’s blood to be very useful for men and they have even vodka with a small snake in the bottle. Also, they make snake soup. Of course, it is very exotic for foreigners, but tourists can have the perfect French cuisine with fruits and vegetables there, as well. Moreover, Vietnamese coffee is very delicious. It has a specific taste and flavor, but a very famous tale how Vietnamese use foxes while gathering the harvest of coffee prevents foreigners from trying such famous Vietnamese beverage. Of course, it may be only a tale, but if they eat dogs and snakes and do not strain at doing it, every tale may turn out to be the truth.
Vietnamese have the so-called state healthcare service, which is free of charge for all citizens. At the same time, 40 percent of all population cannot use the healthcare system. Actually, they live in rural regions where there are no hospital or feldsher-midwife stations since the beginning. Therefore, they remain alone with their problems and diseases and nobody can help them. At the same time, the duration of human life in Vietnam is seventy-five years, which is close to the United States. Of course, it is incredible because the country has only 200 thousand medical beds for over ninety million people. There is a lack of nurses and other medical personnel in Vietnam due to their low salaries. Nevertheless, after the famous economic reforms, a private healthcare service emerged there. As a matter of fact, such service covers rhinoplasty, cosmetic surgery and breast enhancement, which are the most profitable. Anyway, such diseases as tuberculosis, cholera, hemorrhadic stroke, HIV/AIDS, liver cancer, ischemic heart disease and lower respiratory diseases pose a real danger to the Vietnamese society and they require more medical attention and involvement of medical personnel and nurses. Village health workers and commune health stations cannot cope with all the problems. One of the longest durations of human life in the world is explained by the fact that Vietnamese traditional healers live in distant regions. They make medicines from herbs, organs of animals or birds, adding some salts and minerals. At the same time, the Vietnamese government approved the health insurance program, according to which each citizen can receive better healthcare service. Thus, the government established special subsidies for the poor. In this case, the state pays for them their health insurance. Of course, it is not a solution of the problem because each citizen should have a sufficient wage to pay all expanses, including taxes and health insurances.
The Vietnamese social services require fast and effective development. First of all, some institutions of such services, as the Center for Disabled Children and Homeless Elderly People in Hanoi, have about 400 inmates. They are infants and elderly people of 60s. Of course, it would be better to have two separate centers because they need different approach to treatment and care. Nevertheless, the excursion in the Center showed me how one should care of ill and elderly people and what means to bring some happy moments to them. Human compassion, care and friendly treatment do not have language or other barriers for mutual understanding between personnel and patients.
The next example is the Ruby Central Hospital, where patients can receive treatment, care and preventative medication free of charge. It is a modern sixteen-story medical establishment with progressive healthcare technologies, which meets all demands of the international medical care standards. Millions of people from the capital and provinces can receive there the necessary treatment, surgery, ophthalmology, cosmetic surgery and other services from prominent medical professionals. At the same time, many peasants from remote region cannot receive such treatment. It is one of the most prestigious hospitals in Vietnam. Unfortunately, there are not enough such medical institutions in the country. It is obvious that Vietnamese need reforms in their healthcare service to improve the situation. One of the most sufficient reforms is to establish the fee-paying healthcare service to attract attention of investors for establishing modern healthcare centers in all regions of Vietnam. Nowadays, elderly, disabled and abandoned people in Vietnam can receive social services only in cities and neighboring regions, but 40 percent of rural population cannot use it due to the abovementioned reasons.
The Communist government in Vietnam did not focus on the environmental pollutions, which emerged in the result of the development of the Vietnamese economy. Since Vietnam has agricultural economy, poor sanitation and bad quality of potable water and water supply pose a real danger to health of the nation. Thus, poor sanitation caused such dangerous diseases as diarrhea (about 7 million cases), scabies, trachoma, hepatitis and helminthes (2.4 million cases), and diseases connected with malnutrition (0.9 million cases a year). It caused a great number of premature deaths and overcrowding of hospitals and clinics. Therefore, poor sanitation has deeply impacted water resources. Vietnam suffers heavy economic losses of about 90 million dollars a year due to the bad quality of water. At the same time, sanitation has improved for the last fifteen years, but it remains insufficient. It has weak material facilities and management. Only solid investments will solve the problem with poor sanitation. At the same time, the government should design the unified strategy and plan on sanitation. On the one hand, it will unite all efforts to improve the environmental situation and, on the other hand, enhance knowledge on monitoring the situation, regulating quality of water and improving responsibility regarding the environmental pollution. Consequently, the Vietnamese society and its various public organizations should be the major controlling units of the state of affairs in water supply and sanitation. Unfortunately, only the Communist Party has all the key powers and any Vietnamese community does not have rights to conduct any monitoring of how local authorities execute their obligations. Moreover, investors cannot conduct their activities because the government is the major monopoly in Vietnam, which regulates and distributes all financial flows in the country. In addition, the government does not recognize its problems, forcing Vietnamese not to understand the whole danger of the situation. Therefore, nobody has been punished for the environmental pollution, which caused a disaster connected with water supply and sanitation.
The most serious research in the state of affairs with the environmental pollution was conducted in 1997 to attract attention of the government to the increased risks of epidemics and environmental disasters. Thus, researchers took nine samples of soil from the various rural regions. They were samples of the cultivated land to define whether the regions were polluted by heavy metals and other life hazardous elements. The problem was in the Vietnamese national standards, which differed from the international ones. According to the Vietnamese standards, the concentrations of heavy metals and other hazardous elements were not sufficient. Nevertheless, the highest concentrations of heavy metals, cadmium and copper were in three samples. At the same time, all nine samples were polluted by copper at the amount of 40-50 mg due to the usage of pesticides in the fields. The most critical situation was in the river-sediment samples, where contents of cadmium, chromium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc exceeded all norms. The researchers examined samples from the rivers of Nhue, Tolich and Kimnguu to conclude that the most industrial districts of Tuliem and Thanh Tri polluted the rivers and hazardous elements remained in the soils. They were not spread by the water to other regions, but posed a threat to health of people living there. Such diseases as cardiovascular and respiratory ones, hepatitis, liver cancer, depression and ischemic stroke are connected with human activities and polluted water with heavy metals and health hazardous elements. Besides the abovementioned, water of Vietnamese rivers is contaminated by clonorchiasis and it poses an additional threat to human health. Nevertheless, the Vietnamese society is not aware of the whole danger of the environmental condition. Vietnamese believe in the Communist Party and do not initiate the movements to help the authorities with solving the environmental problems.
Vu Trong Phung was born in 1912 in the village of Hao of the province of Hung Yen. His father suffered from tuberculosis and died when Vu Trong Phung was seven months. Therefore, his mother was bringing him up. In 1928, Vu Trong Phung finished school and went to work. In the 1930s, he wrote his first novels, which became remarkable literary works in the modern Vietnamese literature. One of his famous novels was Dumb Luck. He wrote it in 1936. It was a real significant event in the Vietnamese literature because Vu Trong Phung managed to depict the Vietnamese middle class criticizing. At the same time, the Communist Party prohibited publishing the novel to 1960 and after the unification of the country it was banned till 1986.
A famous Vietnamese poet, Luru Trong Lu compares Vu Trong Phung to great Balzac, who started a new literary epoch in France in the nineteenth century. Vu Trong Phung did it in Vietnam in the 1930s, criticizing the corruption in the Vietnamese society at that time. He attracted attention of the society to the problems, which had never been paid attention to before. Moreover, the author depicted the society in Vietnam as it did Balzac in France in his Human Comedy. By his death, Vu Trong Phung wrote eight novels and many short stories. His seven plays are very popular in Vietnam nowadays, but Dumb Luck is a real masterpiece of Vu Trong Phung. Thus, he depicted the Popular Front era, when the Communists, the Socialists and the Radicals formed the new Vietnamese government with the main task was to investigate states of affairs in the French colonies regarding policy and economy, attracting special attention to the moral aspects. Governor-General Jules Brevie eliminated censorship and freed all political prisoners. In addition, he designed the first labor code in Indochina. At the same time, the lack of political and social reforms forced the Vietnamese working class to start their strikes. The Vietnamese people hoped for changes in their lives regarding the progress, social reforms, women’s rights, Europeanization of the society. But in the end, such slogans turned out to be only the mechanisms of the election company.
The author depicted the middle class represented by a vagrant, an athlete, a designer of cloth, a medical worker, an artist, a student, a reporter and a modern woman. Vu Trong Phung was a very attentive personality, who noticed the development of the capitalist relations in the country. The business class was represented by Victor Ban. He had clinics, hotels and even brothels. Also, the author depicted policemen and offenders comparing them to merchants and customers. Everything had its price and was sold and bought. Even monks were involved into the commodity-money relations. The author depicted an urban life with its sensibility, skepticism, cosmopolitanism and rapid changes, which were emerging to emphasize the modern age. Actually, the Popular Front era was a significant historical event in Vietnam, when the society hoped for changes, establishing the capitalist economic and political relations. It was a peaceful period, which turned into the bloodshed confrontation between supporters of the foreign colonization and anti-colonial forces. It caused a long term stagnation and economic recession. Therefore, the main idea of the work was a fate, which defined all historical, economic and political events. Dumb Luck depicted the whole army of various fortune-tellers and prophets, who opposed the unpredictability of the modern life. Vu Trong Phung depicted real people under the characters of his novel. He did it so accurate and wonderful, that his audience was excited while reading the novel. Truth and satire of the comedy made the book favorite for many generations of the Vietnamese. At the same time, the whole book bears the earmarks of the author who is enamored with his nation. Vu Trong Phung did not hate his characters, satirizing their vices. On contrary, it made the book more popular in the country, forcing the audience to think of their actions and intentions.
The main character of Dumb Luck is Red-Haired Xuan. He was really red-haired because Xuan spent “so much time outdoors that the sun dyed his hair a streaky red, as red as the hair of a Westerner” (Phung 2004, p. 38). Actually, all characters in the book are described under nicknames, emphasizing their appearance and inner world. Xuan was a daring adventurer, who wanted to gain success in life in the form of money. He did not have a good education and, therefore, his thoughts corresponded to his intellect. He did not want to work hard to earn money, but saw himself in various sporting or political movements. It increased his self-importance. Xuan considered that he could buy everything in the world: love, success, political career and even happiness. At the same time, he believed in the so-called predictions of tricksters, who earned money, cheating credulous and unwise people. Xuan learned to advertize himself and could make speeches. It gave him success, but he did not have enough knowledge to become a really successful person. At the same time, he could influence people, for example, when he was calming a crowd during the tennis competition. He behaved like a French political leader. Unfortunately, it was only a resemblance and not his real strong quality. At the same time, Red-Haired Xuan and other character, Master Pig, became popular personages of various folksy stories for dozens of years.