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Moving on to new straw men and issues we cannot resolve
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My point is that living here is quite possibly more complicated than working here. Something else people considering moving here for work need to seriously consider.


Absolutely. We constantly see folks asking questions about issues that are very minor when compared to the overall nature of life here. The one about "can my gf and I work the same hours" comes to mind in the last day or so, and seems over half of them give that general impression. These questions will seem pretty small when faced with the overall difficulty of living here.

How your life goes here is quite unpredictable. In some ways, that does add to the excitement, but it is not always good, usually it just means additional problems, obstacles and challenges. You have to be adaptable in the extreme, and have the kind of personality that can accept these constant blows and humiliations. You have to have the resources in place to absorb these unplanned expenses. I think this concept needs to be remembered by the people who are asking "oh, is this a good place to bring my dog", or, "can I find a good Catholic school for my daughter" or whatever.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And this quote from "single parent" thread:


Quote:
Im not sure why Im explaining my reasons


These folks are often so lost they do not even understand the logic of posting for information. Folks, if you do not state your true motivations for coming over, then any advice you get is likely to be off target. Most of you have never even been to VN, yet you post here, ask specific questions about some issue that is really unimportant in the overall scheme of things, and fail to discuss your true motivations as well as your real qualifications and personal attributes. You are wasting your time and the time of anyone who responds unless you are completely open about your case. Remain anonymous, no one will know who you really are, then give the important details about your situation. If you cannot see the logic in that, how are you ever going to be able to teach an intelligent young person?
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gonna try to move the discussion on the general environment having the potential to trim years off your life over here to the "issues we cannot resolve" thread. We had been especially discussing food safety, but in my mind, that is not the worst part. I believe we really have no idea how nasty the air, the water and the soil is, which works its way into everything. So the food is just part of it, and even if properly handled by the restaurants, remember the conditions it is growing in. So, take a peek at this recent story:

http://www.thanhniennews.com/index/pages/20140126-unsustainable-modernization-too-much-for-sanitation-services.aspx

An excerpt:
Quote:
Vo Thanh Thu of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s international trade policy advisory committee said that rapid industrialization over the past 20 years had led to a boom in industrial parks and export processing zones.

However, it has also led to serious pollution, leading to conflicts with local residents.

“Only half have established waste treatment plants,” Thu said at a recent seminar on the issue, organized by the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) a Vietnamese non-profit organization.

Thu said that toxic waste is discharged without treatment, causing serious pollution to the environment.



Towards, the end, it includes this nugget of info:

Quote:
According to the report, poor sanitation has a significant impact on public health in the region including chronic poor health caused by diarrheal disease and an increased risk of disease epidemics such as cholera.

Oh, really? Like this is big news? Am I the only one who actually notices these canals? Honestly, the natives are pretty much in tune with this, they have lived with it all their lives and seen the effects up close. They do not complain about it too much, as there is nothing they can do about it.

What no one knows is how bad it really is, what the long term impacts will be, and what direction we go from here. As noted in the story, industrialization has dramatically accelerated the problem. We are not dropping like flies, and I do not expect that. We are big tough creatures. Instead we will just develop various problems that we will never be able to track directly to a particular meal or breath or drink. As Madge so succinctly stated some 30 years ago "you're soaking in it"
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprising to me that anyone would have any doubt about all this. For those that do, here is another:

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/90026/air-pollution-cause-of-chronic-diseases-in-big-cities-in-vietnam.html



Quote:
...The Hanoi-based Central Lung Hospital said that 95 percent patients suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because they live in a polluted environment. These days, more and more people are beginning to contract the disease which is worrisome...

Dr. Nguyen Kim Cuong from the Hanoi University of Medicine said the alarming increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary lung conditions and asthma cases in recent years was linked to worsening conditions in living environment, with air pollution being one of the primary causes...

In Vietnam, studies of the Central Lung Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, Cho Ray in HCMC and Can Tho Hospital in the Mekong Delta, show that seven percent of the population has contracted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and this figure is showing a definite upward trend.

Environment pollution is one of the causes of so many dangerous diseases. Nguyen Tran Hien, Head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said dengue fever and hand-foot-mouth disease are born as a result of water and environment pollution. An environmental monitoring in Hanoi showed that dust pollution in air is 11 times higher than acceptable levels.



This is not me, this is the VN governmental institutions, including the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, as noted above. One might even suspect they would soft pedal the full truth, but anyway, if you do not want to believe me, and you do not want to believe them, there is always the Easter bunny to believe in. He certainly has the happier message.

Notice how they said "these days, more and more". What is happening (if it is not obvious) is we have had an increase in longevity due to people no longer starving to death, but at the same time, we have polluted this country in a very significant way, which is not going to kill people the first decade or so, but will in time start to manifest itself in many ways, in fact, it already has begun.

Okay, this really does belong in this "issues we cannot resolve" thread, as there is not much we can do other than stay and accept it or leave. Yeah, you can eat at expensive places, that sure won't hurt, but we are all breathing the same air.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 366

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think anyone's going to argue with you that pollution is going up and there's a total lack of control on it. Look at china if you want to see how bad it will get before people start thinking they need to do something about it. Indonesia is notoriously polluted too, so much so that Singapore complains about their pollution affecting them.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

God yes. We even had the smoke here in HCMC during the last burning season, coming all the way from Indonesia, right? Incredible.

I recall flying out of Jakarta once, you could see the main river going into the ocean. It was very nasty, like the canals here in HCMC, but closer to the ocean, so you could see the brown/black mixing in with the blue without 60 miles of river to blend into like we have here (just guessing on the 60 miles). Anyone who sees a sight like that has to realize what is going on over here, there is almost zero control of pollution, people just dump any thing any where any time any way.
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montblanc20



Joined: 21 Jul 2013
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually always wear a mask when I'm riding my motorbike. And if it's hot outside I wear it when I'm walking. It protects against the sun and air pollution (better than nothing). How many foreigners do you see wearing masks?

I ride the Vietnamese woman way. Completely covered up including face mask and gloves.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It can't hurt. I think most of us do most of the time, but it is hard to always do it and somewhat symbolic, as you cannot avoid the air, but it is probably good to do it when you are on the streets. They say that some masks are better than others, they have these medical ones in the pharmacies that are supposedly better. We should start wearing gas masks, like they have for chemical weapon attacks, that would be way cool looking.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 533
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:

This is not me, this is the VN governmental institutions, including the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, as noted above. One might even suspect they would soft pedal the full truth, but anyway, if you do not want to believe me, and you do not want to believe them, there is always the Easter bunny to believe in. He certainly has the happier message.


I personally don't believe in the Easter Bunny, nor do I believe that Vietnam is particularly noteworthy for the pollution levels in its major cities. I have traveled extensively and the pollution here is nothing compared to some places. That's not the same as saying it is good, (which, of course, no one on this forum has said). Below is a list of city rankings (from worst-to-best) in regards to air quality. Saigon is in between Kiev (Ukraine) and Doha (Qatar).

http://www.numbeo.com/pollution/rankings.jsp

In regards to the long-term health effects of the air quality, I guess that depends on how long you are going to stay here for and where you move to next. Many smokers, like my father and grandfather, smoked heavily for decades and, because they quit in time, their bodies recovered to the stage where the difference between them and a life-long, non-smoker was negligible. That's probably the only good thing you can say about smoking. Of course, once the disease is there then it is there and the damage is done.

I used the example of smoking because smoking and air pollution share certain similarities in regards to health. Of course, neither smoking or air pollution are trivial things and, if you want to TEFL in Saigon for several decades, well, I guess I can see your point. However, I have never heard of anyone who has done anything close to this. Besides, Vietnamese cities are better than many other locations that TEFLers are currently working in.

I've been here for about four years and are you honestly telling me that you believe that I have shaved time off my life in any meaningful way, compared to living in an Australian city? I'm sorry, but I think the likelihood of someone's decision to TEFL here "taking years off their life" is somewhat alarmist. Whilst I don't doubt your good intentions Mark, I personally think it's a bit over-the-top and may give readers here an exaggerated view of the health risks that they are likely to experience. Others, of course, are completely free to disagree and, judging to the 'Easter Bunny' reference, you seem to consider my position naive. If so, that's fine.

mark_in_saigon wrote:


Okay, this really does belong in this "issues we cannot resolve" thread, as there is not much we can do other than stay and accept it or leave. Yeah, you can eat at expensive places, that sure won't hurt, but we are all breathing the same air.


Couldn't agree more.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking 10 or 20 years is enough for these factors to cause real problems. I see young students have coughs that sound like they are cigarette smokers. I first came over in 2002, 12 years ago now. I have no intention to leave while my health is still good. For people that want to be here long term, and for all of the natives, I would just again copy what the doctors and government officials said, I just posted this, but here it is again.

Quote:
patients suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because they live in a polluted environment. These days, more and more people are beginning to contract the disease...
Hanoi University of Medicine said the alarming increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary lung conditions and asthma cases in recent years was linked to worsening conditions in living environment, with air pollution being one of the primary causes...
studies of the Central Lung Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, Cho Ray in HCMC and Can Tho Hospital in the Mekong Delta, show that seven percent of the population has contracted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and this figure is showing a definite upward trend...

Environment pollution is one of the causes of so many dangerous diseases. Nguyen Tran Hien, Head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said dengue fever and hand-foot-mouth disease are born as a result of water and environment pollution. An environmental monitoring in Hanoi showed that dust pollution in air is 11 times higher than acceptable levels. ..


All this info comes from doctors, hospitals and medical specialists in VN. You can call it over the top or alarmist (by the way, notice they used the word: alarming, not I), I just call it reality, and just mentioned in passing that it may take years off our lives. It is not even at the top of my list of biggest issues here, I accept it as part of my life, and do not see that we have much choice. I totally agree that folks who smoke are doing more or less the same thing to themselves, heavy boozers too, and lord knows we have plenty of both. They accept it, I accept that they do it. It is not alarmist or over the top to mention that they are likely taking years off of their lives as well, they all know it (I think).

Not a lot more I can say about all this, though anyone can easily find plenty of stories on all this. I did not drag out the recent one on the coal smoke in parts of China where it has now been documented that life expectancies are cut by about 3 years (as I recall from the story, maybe it was 5, anyone else remember?) specifically because of the coal they burn in houses for cooking and heating. We use that coal for cooking here, not for heating though, but anyway, it does take time for governments and citizens to catch up to the reality of what is happening. Older guys like myself recall when smoking was not at all considered unhealthy, it was a cool thing to do. Lord knows we trimmed years off of plenty of lives with that, and much of the world continues with that as well.

Okay, we have flogged this straw man to death, if I do not stop one smoker or drinker or convince one person that the pollution here is at dangerous levels, it is fine with me. I just stated my opinion, a few others stated theirs, hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

On the food thing, (not quite the same issue, esp when discussing sanitation), just today I got some spoiled meat at a larger restaurant from a chain, guys who live here long term would recognize the place. I don't know how many units they have, but I have gone to them off and on for years, this is not a food stall. They are like twice the price of normal street food. My VN partner tasted it, she agreed the meat was spoiled. There was no apology, embarrassment, concern, they just brought something else and life went on. Personally, I think the natives are stronger than us, the weak have died out and they are more capable of digesting nasty food. I read that about asthma and diabetes, how we are so careful with our children and keep folks alive with chronic conditions (especially diabetes). Very interesting thought. Not suggesting we pull out the black needle for our weak, but am saying these guys are rugged. I occasionally see folks vomiting here. (Food related or beverage? Probably some of each.) So funny, not like us at all, to them it is almost like blowing your nose or something. Ooops, ate some really bad chicken, will take it out this way instead of the normal path. Okay, hop back on, away we go!

These guys are tough.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 533
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
I'm thinking 10 or 20 years is enough for these factors to cause real problems. I see young students have coughs that sound like they are cigarette smokers. I first came over in 2002, 12 years ago now. I have no intention to leave while my health is still good. For people that want to be here long term, and for all of the natives, I would just again copy what the doctors and government officials said, I just posted this, but here it is again.

patients suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because they live in a polluted environment. These days, more and more people are beginning to contract the disease...
Hanoi University of Medicine said the alarming increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary lung conditions and asthma cases in recent years was linked to worsening conditions in living environment, with air pollution being one of the primary causes...
studies of the Central Lung Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, Cho Ray in HCMC and Can Tho Hospital in the Mekong Delta, show that seven percent of the population has contracted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and this figure is showing a definite upward trend...


Thanks Mark, but I read it the first time. In fact, I don't see why you felt the need to re-post it, because we seem to agree. The air pollution is more of a concern for "people who want to be here long term, and for all of the natives". I would just again copy what I said, I just posted this, but here it is again Rolling Eyes.

1st Sgt Welsh wrote:
mark_in_saigon wrote:

This is not me, this is the VN governmental institutions, including the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, as noted above. One might even suspect they would soft pedal the full truth, but anyway, if you do not want to believe me, and you do not want to believe them, there is always the Easter bunny to believe in. He certainly has the happier message.


I personally don't believe in the Easter Bunny, nor do I believe that Vietnam is particularly noteworthy for the pollution levels in its major cities. I have traveled extensively and the pollution here is nothing compared to some places. That's not the same as saying it is good, (which, of course, no one on this forum has said). Below is a list of city rankings (from worst-to-best) in regards to air quality. Saigon is in between Kiev (Ukraine) and Doha (Qatar).

http://www.numbeo.com/pollution/rankings.jsp

In regards to the long-term health effects of the air quality, I guess that depends on how long you are going to stay here for and where you move to next. Many smokers, like my father and grandfather, smoked heavily for decades and, because they quit in time, their bodies recovered to the stage where the difference between them and a life-long, non-smoker was negligible. That's probably the only good thing you can say about smoking. Of course, once the disease is there then it is there and the damage is done.

I used the example of smoking because smoking and air pollution share certain similarities in regards to health. Of course, neither smoking or air pollution are trivial things and, if you want to TEFL in Saigon for several decades, well, I guess I can see your point. However, I have never heard of anyone who has done anything close to this. Besides, Vietnamese cities are better than many other locations that TEFLers are currently working in.

I've been here for about four years and are you honestly telling me that you believe that I have shaved time off my life in any meaningful way, compared to living in an Australian city? I'm sorry, but I think the likelihood of someone's decision to TEFL here "taking years off their life" is somewhat alarmist. Whilst I don't doubt your good intentions Mark, I personally think it's a bit over-the-top and may give readers here an exaggerated view of the health risks that they are likely to experience . Others, of course, are completely free to disagree and, judging to the 'Easter Bunny' reference, you seem to consider my position naive. If so, that's fine.

mark_in_saigon wrote:


Okay, this really does belong in this "issues we cannot resolve" thread, as there is not much we can do other than stay and accept it or leave. Yeah, you can eat at expensive places, that sure won't hurt, but we are all breathing the same air.


Couldn't agree more.


In short, this may be a major health concern for you, because you "have no intention to leave" while your health is "still good." However, I, and the vast majority of expats here, along with the vast majority of potential newbies reading this forum do not intend and will not stay in Vietnam indefinitely. That's why I said that I believed your posts, on this particular topic, were alarmist and I stand by it. If you had qualified your statements to something along the lines of: 'if you choose to stay in a large Vietnamese city indefinitely then there is a good chance it will take years off your life' then I would have probably agreed. But you didn't say that. I'm glad we now appear to have approached a consensus.

I'm also glad to hear that you agree with me that breathing polluted air and the "folks who smoke are doing more or less the same thing to themselves". In regards to people who quit smoking, here are the expected health outcomes and, I guess, we can expect similar results for people who move to a cleaner-air environment:

http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Benefits_Time_Table.html

You also mentioned a case of coal smoke in China which has now been documented to have cut life expectancies "by about 3 years". I have no real knowledge of this case/s, but I don't think it really matters because I do know that adding 'apples' and 'oranges' does not equal 'fruit'. As indicated by that link I have provided, the pollution in some parts of China are through the roof and dramatically worse than Vietnam. Furthermore, to do that amount of damage then the pollution would needed to have been extreme and the population had to be exposed to it for a considerable duration. No one is saying that long-term exposure to heavily polluted air does not cause major health problems.

In regards to discussing food poisoning, I've already had my say on that on the other thread.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
Location: off the radar

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you guys leap out of bed and scream "Good morning Vietnam!" and prepare for some hard early morning exercise?or grit your teeth and do a little walk before the sun gets too hot which intensifies the pollution? In short, do you feel healthy in Vietnam?

Personally, I felt like a bag of shite which was partially due to the previous evening's bia hoi and also the environment. Whenever I visited home, I had so much more energy. The air was clean and I felt good. I recall expat women in Hanoi complaining that their hair was scraggly from the water and many people complained about chest infections. Whether it takes years off your life is one thing, what was important to me was how I felt every day.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So funny talking to the VN about all this. My partner is from a rural environment and she knows about this stuff from her real life and her friends. So she was telling me all these crazy stories. Here is one that is so funny, it is about cashew nuts. Very tasty, quite expensive in the west. So, here, they grow them, they have some fairly primitive methods of processing them which may result in lower numbers of whole nuts. Solution? They have some kind of glue that they use to put them back together again. So, story goes on, big shipments going out all over, some western country clued in and figured it out, sent them back. So, the VN then just sell them to their own people. Ask around, if you talk to the VN (especially rural ones), a lot them will know about this. Also, take a look at your cashews in the jars, you will find them, I did. They are cracked, but mysteriously they are whole. Amazing that labor cost are so low that people can sit there and glue nuts back together! I went ahead and ate mine, tasted fine, what the hell, you know? Wonder what the glue is made from. They used to talk about sending horses to the glue factory, so maybe it is old horses holding the cashews together. Hope so, sounds wholesome enough. But point is, you never really know about anything over here. Get these people talking about meat, they are especially clued in on that. In the west, we use anti oxidants on lettuce and other produce items, (spud brite was the brand I recall) it is okay in some cases, bringing cut lettuce back to life a day or so later. Over here, they do the same thing with old meat, (but with much more questionable chemicals, and recycling meat, which is a lot more dangerous than lettuce) the VN all know about it, and my partner tells me there is really nothing we can do about it, we just never really know what we are eating. I think I read that McDonalds will import 90% of the product that they use for the meals they will sell here, and I suspect food safety is the reason why (especially the meat). Now those guys really would be in trouble if they made you sick. DEEP pockets. Ever hear the story about when some guy found a chicken head in his McNuggets? Big payout on that. Over here, they would look at you like you were crazy if you complained about a chicken head. Come on, it is part of the chicken for crying out loud!

Still feeling a bit queasy from this morning's spoiled chicken, but fortunately I did not eat much. I think my stomach is much more capable of a shock then when I was back home, cause I do eat the native gruel pretty regularly.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 366

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really can't comment too much, since Danang is probably one of the cleanest cities in Vietnam. Skies are blue for the most part, and the beach and ocean are beautiful.

I do remember that in Hanoi I felt like I never saw a blue sky unless it was after a rain storm. It was always the same overcast grey.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, I agree, we are all on a short term outlook over here, that is what matters to me also. I feel pretty good for my age, my biggest problem is when I drive in the sun and rush hour a lot, I get headaches and eventually start to feel like a fish gulping air on the sidewalk. Get off the street and out of the sun, it feels better.

Yeah, I think short term, you feel it in your respiratory system first. The general poisoning from the water, the food, the soil, I think that kinda sneaks up on you and you do not know that one til you get cancer or whatever it does to you.

Do think we get some skin rashes that may be a result of all this. They tend to go away with time and medication, never got those back home.
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