The 3 great mysteries in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

To me, there are 3 great mysteries in Ho Chi Minh City, 1 of them remains unsolved todate.
1. Why do motorcyclists in Ho Chi Minh City do not wear helmets while driving?


According to my tour guide to Cu Chi Tunnels, the answer is simply that they do not like to do so. The Vietnamese government only encourages motorcyclist to wear helmets. However, I was told that it is the law to wear a helmet while travelling long distance on the highway. Further, my tour guide complained that whenever she wears a helmet, her friends would ask her whether she’s travelling somewhere far.

2. Why are bottom of the tree trunks in Ho Chi Minh City painted white?

Initially I thought it was for decoration but after seeing many trees being painted sloppily, I sort of doubt it. But according to my tour guide, the paint serves to stop ants from crawling up the tree. The accuracy of her statement has yet to be proven.

This is the biggest mystery of all.

3. Why are chairs by the roadside stalls arranged to face the road rather than facing each other?

This is a very common sight in Ho Chi Minh City. But yet, this mystery remains unsolved.

20 thoughts on “The 3 great mysteries in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam”

  1. Maybe it’s because if they face the road, they can get to see if the car or motorcycle comes hurling their way into them – and they have a better chance of running away if that happens?

  2. WaH…they got cars there? They looking like Malaysia man. Not bad they quite advanced. I thought they only got banana plantations.

  3. I’m not so sure about the chairs either. I was there about 2 months ago, and couldn’t figure it out. I rode a motorbike there, and frankly, in the city a helmet would have cut my peripheral vision. As you may have figured out, you need eyes in the back of your head to ride there. Anyway, I don’t think ANYTHING can stop those little ants, let alone some white paint. It was explained to me that the white paint was for visibility at dusk and at night. Oddly enough, on my jogging route in Salem MA, the trees in the park are painted white in the same way. Hmmmm.

  4. keishi: hehe. by the way they drive, they definitely need to be well prepared!
    Gavin: mahai Vietnam is booming like mad. its one of the best places to invest in SEA.
    pikey: do let me know too! hehe
    ivN: viet cafe ah?

  5. so if there’s a car accident they can be the first one’s to see the number plate??heheheh

  6. yeah. The BEEF NOODLES !!!!!!!!! Anything resemble the beef noodles at Ngau Kee (Jalan Alor) or the one at Jalan Silang… err.. I mean Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin, KL???
    Btw, about the white paint on the trees. Why not you try it out at home. Get 2 trees of the same kind, ie. those along the road in your hood, paint one (like those in Vietnam) and wait for say, 1 week. After 1 week, see if the ants stop crawling on the painted tree.

  7. The trees thing may be true. Red ants you realise have this very strong smell, which they use to guide each other on a path. The paint (not necessarily need to be white) also has very strong smell so this may kacau their smell so they cannot find a path up the tree loh.
    Sounds logic or not?

  8. Tada logic la bro! funny how i painted my walls white the ants still likes to make them their house?
    i think its more of visibility. They even have it in malaysia! (i remember seeing it somewhere. hmmm i think its penang)

  9. mystery #3: because that is people watching, viet style? u know…Paris has its sidewalk cafes, Ho Chi Minh city has their roadside …er..chairs? heheeheheh.

  10. Hi xes,
    I travel alot to vietnam for business..
    Here is wot my counterpart in VN said
    1) No helmet during driving motorcycle :
    – VN is a hot country .
    – Hair style is damaged by helmet for ladies
    – It is rice cooker ( heavy and ugly) and nobody wants to wear ” a cooker on head” .
    – Vietnamese is so bravo that they are not afraid of DEATH GOD ( although the traffic accident rate causes about 115,000 persons dead per annum, higher than American War ) .
    – Helmet could be stolen if the branded name ( cost about 30$/unit)
    Why they have to wear helmet for long journey ? Because they are afraid of policemen’s fine .
    2) White paint at the tree root :
    – Anti-termite ( this is reason from gov. but everybody doubts on this )
    – Good decoration to clarify from other cities in the world .
    – It is a signal for drunkards ( danger ahead or WC ahead, depending on drunkards mood)
    3) Chairs facing to the road :
    – That service is mainly for friends ( male w. male / female w. female, not for couple ) , so if “face to face”, it is very boring, so most of sitters prefer to face to the road to see pretty girls pass-by or a nice motorbike/ car pass-by and have more topics to talk .
    4) Vietnamese ladies :
    – Nice and friendly : During war, they lived in nervous and cry so now they need to balance their own mood by smile and friendly .
    – Slim and pretty : They eat a lot of vegetable & fruits and very little rice & meat .
    – VN ladies know that they are flowers for men’s sight so they must prepare as a pretty girl; otherwise, all chairs by the roadside will be change to position ” face-to-face”, no more “face-to-road”

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