Top three weird jobs that pay surprisingly well in Vietnam

By Kim Thuy   March 15, 2016 | 08:38 pm GMT+7

These unusual jobs do not require any formal qualifications, but can be oddly profitable.

1. Grey hair plucking 

It is not surprising that many people want to get rid of grey hairs because it’s a sign of aging, but there are others in Vietnam who also hold the belief that grey hairs induce stress and headaches and plucking rogue hairs gives them a sense of relief. 

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Photo by VnExpress

In times gone by, children would pluck their parents’ or grandparents’ grey hairs, but these days families seem to have less time together so people have to pay for something which is really rather easy to do: plucking hairs.

This has provided a lucrative niche for the operators of services which remove the pesky follicles in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Bich Lien, the owner of one such establishment, said her prices range between VND80,000 ($3.50) and VND100,000 ($4.50) per hour.

“My hair shop opens at 8 a.m and closes at 10 p.m with 20 hair pluckers working full-time,” she said. “If lucky, we can make up to VND10 million per day.”

The subtle art of conversation is also an important element of success. “Pluckers must know how to talk with customers so they don’t feel bored, because the plucking usually takes about one hour,” Thu Ha, one of the workers at the shop, said.

2. Fake bridegroom service

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood romcom, but this service actually exists. In order to save face with their families, unmarried women who have fallen pregnant can order a fake bridegroom for between VND50 million ($2,200) and VND100 million ($4,400). 

An agency dealing in these matters will provide the woman with a newly-minted husband who has been carefully selected. The man in question must have a pleasant appearance and not have any mutual friends with the ‘bride’.

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Photo by VnExpress/ Tomas Slavicek

The term of the arrangement is normally for five years, and during this time the ‘husband’ has to visit his wife’s family, relatives and friends if required, and he will be paid an additional fee of between VND200,000 and VND500,000 per occasion. The agency will also provide fake friends and relatives of the bridegroom.

Alas, there is rarely a Hollywood ending to these arrangements. One agency operator, who declines to be identified, said most of her customers get their fake divorce after about a year, mostly because they do not want to go on paying the fees associated with family visits.

“They would make up horrible facts about the fake husband, such as having an affair, to justify the divorce to their families,” the agent said.

The service has become a solution for many unwed pregnant women in Vietnam, who if they want to keep their child have few options. Without a husband, they are at risk of being disowned by their families, especially those women in rural areas. 

3. Collecting holy water in Phu Tho province

There are those who believe that the waters at the confluence of the Da River and Red River in northern Vietnam have a spiritual power, and those who posses these holy waters will be blessed with good fortune, happiness and wealth.

This belief is linked to history of the Hung King dynasty, which is credited with building the kingdom of Van Lang, the precursor to the nation of Vietnam. The northern province of Phu Tho, which is about 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from Hanoi, was chosen as their first capital.

The highest mountain in the region, Nghia Linh, was used to perform rituals devoted to the gods to help ensure bountiful crops. The waters at the junction of the two rivers is also believed to absorb the divine power of the mountain

Only waters at the eddy of the confluence are considered sacred and only locals, it seems, know how to find the particular location. Locals first perform a religious ritual to ask for the gods’ permission to collect the water.

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People collect sacred water at the Da and Red Rivers - Source: suckhoevadoisong.vn

Traditionally the water-collectors must be virtuous and have many children or grandchildren, as it is believed only people who have done good deeds are blessed with many offspring.

There is no fixed price, with customers determining how much they want to pay.

“Some just pay us a little money but most people are generous,” Nguyen Thi Lan, a local resident, said. “We can earn up to several million [in Vietnamese dong or VND] per day.”