Man Xa | Bac Ninh | Vietnam
by Aaron Joel Santos
Vietnam is really just this long complicated and knotted thread of villages stretching across the entire country, all kind of similar at first glance, but vastly different and weird and intriguing upon further inspection. Like Man Xa in the north. It’s an aluminum recycling village about 50km outside of Hanoi and it’s apparently one of the most polluted places in the country. The air smells like a really intensified version of that smell that happens when you burn plastic things, but mixed with a more metallic nose on the back end that makes your arteries pinch and your heart scream and your throat contract involuntarily. The residents were quick to point out that “it just smells bad but it isn’t harmful”. Which I think is probably wishful thinking. But apparently the village makes quite a lot of money for its residents, melting down all kinds of aluminum things and turning them into large bars to sell back to big companies. And money is a powerful motivator. One big company is so pleased with the recycling process that it has decided to build a really tall temple in the middle of town as a gift. It was supposed to be completed in one year, though it’s generally thought that it will take another four or five to finish. So here’s Man Xa. A place you’ve probably never heard of and will probably never go to. Which is just fine.