Public Urination: A National Embarrassment & a Misdemeanor

You’re on candid camera! Photo taken in Hanoi by MAA

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, right? This is a common sight in Viet Nam’s cities. It’s a perennial issue that’s frequently covered by the nation’s media, usually accompanied by healthy doses of teeth-gnashing and breast-beating. What will the tourists think? What about Vietnam’s international image?

Why is this such a problem? One obvious reason is a lack of public toilets. In my case, as a foreigner, I can simply walk into a hotel – no questions asked – and head for the men’s room if nature calls. Not every Vietnamese can do that. Call it foreigner privilege.

Aside from the unpleasantness of having to watch guys take a leak all over the city, including against walls or, like dogs, trees, there is the nauseating stench.

How to solve this vexing problem? First, fine the men who are giving their urban surroundings a golden shower. This is low-hanging fruit from a police perspective. (The government might to consider raising the fines, which range from $6.40 to $10.70 USD.)

Secondly, create more public toilets so that there’s less of an urge to pee wherever they damn well please. This will have the effect of killing three birds with one stone: 1) improve Vietnam’s image in the eyes of tourists; and 2) make for cleaner and sweeter-smelling cities; and 3) generate more revenue for the state coffers.

What’s not to like?

Shalom (שלום), MAA 

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