One thing that I have always respected about Việt Nam and its citizens in all walks of life is their sense of community.
Not just the empty word that politicians all over the world use but a real community feeling even in the big cities which have the feel of a number of small villages joined together.
The many, not the few, go out of their way to ensure there is fair play in nearby streets when it comes to motorbike accidents, disagreements and, of course, robberies.
Foreign tourists in Hội An, Việt Nam
It is not unusual to see groups of ‘passers-by’ rushing to the aid of strangers if they see a wrong being committed or just helping fellow citizens in time of trouble.
And even officials are getting in on the act.
Nguyễn Su, Party Secretary of Hội An town, managed to grab a hold of a robber who had stolen a necklace at the Quảng Nam Heritage Festival last week.
Ironically the official was instructing security forces to ensure the safety of festival-goers in Hội An when he spotted a suspicious looking man darting in and out of the crowd on An Hội bridge and secretly followed him.
Su thought there was something not quite about the man and his movements, and he was right as he spotted him snatching a necklace from a woman and tried to run away from the scene.
Su quickly showed up and nabbed him with the help of some nearby policemen.
The robber was later identified with three other thieves also arrested on the same day, who were all from southern provinces, maybe part of the same gang.
Considering the ongoing festival attracts tens of thousands of people on a nightly basis, you might think a handful of arrests is not too bad but that is the ones that were caught and Vietnamese are sick and tired of robbers making people scared to make a phone call, carry a nice bag or indeed carry anything valuable on their bikes.
With big crowds packed together, it gives pickpockets and robbers a good chance to earn some easy money.
Well that is unless they get in the way of Su, who may be on the radar of the White Knights, the unofficial guardians of the street and a group of people who fascinate me.
Su, the White Knights and everyone else have had enough of the thieves who tarnish the proud name of Vietnamese and a country desperately trying to ensure that international visitors have a great time in the country and go back and tell their friends to come here.
Vietnamese are so proud they would be saddened to see tourists leaving with a negative impression.
So if they see something out of hand, they act without fear of any harm to themselves.
Right is right, wrong is wrong.
I myself have been fortunate enough not to have come a cropper to the sneaky robbers out there but my wife has and it makes you so angry you could do some serious damage to someone if you catch them.
Once she had a necklace stolen right outside her family home and another time a man was shouting obscene gestures at her but instead of being intimidated she chased after him and gave him the fright of his life.
Robbers maybe don’t want to pick on someone their own size, especially bigger, and prefer to focus on females as they are easy targets for bag-snatching, mobile phone or jewelry stealing.
They really are the scum of the earth and I have heard stories of them grabbing your bag and holding on causing you to crash and maybe even threaten your life or limbs just so they can steal and re-sell your goods for a few million đồng.
I don’t know about martial law and the knights of the street but I think in Việt Nam a certain level of force is allowed when trying to apprehend these cretins.
If you tried to attack or stop a robber in a western country, you might find yourself with a lawsuit and you paying the robber money in a criminal court as a result of him stealing from you.
Now Việt Nam has a lot of culture, cuisine and gifts to share to the world but one thing that I genuinely hope that the rest of the world can follow is that sense of community which has been sadly lost in many parts.
I am not entirely sure this is an Asian phenomenon and having seen some horrific things from elsewhere in the continent recently I doubt it.
I think that this is the Vietnamese family thing, everyone is your sister, brother, uncle, aunt whatever.
I think it is quite an impressive situation to see everyone looking out for each other to maintain fair play as much as possible.
It is nice to know that in your time of need, help may be at hand from a friendly stranger.