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Essay: Is Ho Chi Minh city a much better place to live in today than 10 years ago?

The Vietnamese proverb ‘dat lanh chim dau’, which means ‘wherever there is good soil, there are flocks of birds coming to settle down”, shows that people tend to move to a place in which they can live and make money in a fairly easy way. Ho Chi Minh City is one of the biggest cities in the south of Vietnam, which provides people with a great number of various jobs; therefore, people from many different parts of the country keep on moving to this city, hoping to find out their ‘paradise’. For those who have been living in this city for a long time, more than 10 years for example, their ‘used-to-be paradise’ is getting worse and worse. Sharing these ‘native’ citizens’ viewpoint, I strongly disagree with the flattering statement that Ho Chi Minh city is a much better place to live today than 10 years ago.

Pollution is the first thing that makes Ho chi Minh City a worse place to live in. the layout of Ho Chi Minh City was established only for its five hundred thousand residents more than 100 years ago. Its drainage system has been overbooked to drain for a city of over seven million people nowadays. Consequently, the so-called ‘the pearl of the Far East’ is getting more and more polluted. Water pollution is only part of the pollution facing all the dwellers of this biggest city in Vietnam. The air pollution here is no less serious. Thousands of factories are still located inside this city and keep on releasing poisonous smoke. Various means of transportation, especially millions of motorcycles, do contribute to the ever-increasing air pollution in Ho Chi Minh city.

The second thing that makes Ho Chi Minh City a worse place to live in is its high cost of living. Nowhere else in Vietnam do you have to pay such great sums of money just to lead a rather simple and really humble life. Food, public utility, means of transportation, tuition fees accommodation and a variety of private services such as tailoring, hairdressing, renovating, etc. here are all much higher than the so-called standard legal income of the majority of the city dwellers. Consequently, they have to struggle hard to make their two ends meet. They do not usually have time to enjoy themselves. In other words, a great number of these city-dwellers just earn enough money to be physical beings, not emotional or spiritual beings.

Its increasing crime and disorder also makes Ho Chi Minh City a worse place to live in today than ten years ago. A number of the city dwellers, especially young illiterate guys of lower social classes, cannot earn their living legally. They allow themselves to rob or steal anything they can to satisfy their needs, irrespective of how serious the consequences of their frightening acts are. It is impossible for anyone who dares to live in Ho Chi Minh City to get rid of the lack of safety and order resulting from the above-mentioned kind of crime. In other words, the city dwellers have to face their fate/destiny every minute in their life.

To tell the truth, I was born and grew up in Ho Chi Minh City and I am old enough to witness the tremendous, multifaceted changes and social reforms here. However, I can hardly say that I love my hometown very much because I am afraid that it does not deserve my love. Up to now, I have been trying my best to work hard and lead a simple but respectable life here. I do not dare to break any official law or well-established social rule. And I often jeer sarcastically at myself, saying how foolish I am in such a crazy, disorderly environment. Probably, you do not approve of my pessimistic perspectives; but that is me!”

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