Death at #VinhomesCentralPark

One thing that I’ve learned while living in Asia is that Asians think differently than Westerners. One thing that I’ve learned while living in Southeast Asia is that Southeast Asians think differently than Asians and Westerners. And one thing that I’ve learned while living in Vietnam is that Vietnamese think differently than other Southeast Asians and Westerners, but of Asians, they, in my opinion, think the closest to Westerners.


On Tuesday, October 26th, we were at the park at Vinhomes Central Park. It’s our favorite park in the city because it feels relatively safe and there are many things to do in the immediate area. When we heard of the park’s re-opening to everyone — ungated and unguarded, taking you there was our priority because it gives you the opportunity to be around kids of all ages. I don’t think a normal day passes when kids aren’t abound.

Just before 5PM, as we were walking, your mother and I were caught off guard by a park security guard trying to speed by us on a motorbike on the sidewalk. He was trying to go so fast that a white cloud of smoke came from his exhaust every time he turned the throttle. We weren’t directly in front of him, luckily, as he yelled, honked and waved at people to get out of his way. Several other motorbikes passed by us shortly after with other park security guards, park staff and Vinhomes administration en route.

Your mother first thought that a phone or bag was stolen. I agreed, initially, but, in the same sentence, changed my opinion of what might have been stolen. Knowing that there’s always many children playing in the park, I thought a child had been kidnapped because of the sense of urgency. It was hard for me to believe that a security guard would be moving that fast to catch a petty thief. Your mother immediately dismissed my idea. She really doesn’t like when I mention “bad” things.

My curiosity got the best of me after about ten minutes. As you were playing with your mother, I walked closer to see what was happening. Given that it was only in the afternoon with no rain clouds in sight, an unusually large number of people were walking towards the entrance while an unusual amount of park security guards and park staff were moving in the opposite direction. It seemed like something was happening but I didn’t get close enough to see because I was more worried that our stuff might get stolen since your mother’s attention was on you.

Playtime was cut short once I got back. Your mother didn’t specifically mention anything about wanting to try to find out more but I think she was curious as well. A few minutes later, we moved to the central part of the park since that was likely ground zero. We were right. The park’s security guards were keeping people away mid-way to the back of the park as they were taping-off a perimeter. Park security guards, park staff and Vinhomes administration could be seen standing beside the lookout tower on the left-hand side in front of or beside an area blocked by tarp. Your mother and I still weren’t completely sure about what had taken place but we surmised that someone had fallen off of the lookout tower based on the body language of those nearby and that the person was dead.

Two police officers arrived at the scene, eventually. They confirmed my suspicions. After looking over the tarp barrier, they walked up the steps to the lookout tower’s platform and quickly looked over the part of the railing where the tarp was located before one of them immediately made a phone call.

Finally, more than 40 minutes after seeing the motorbike speed by us and about ten minutes after the police officer could be seen making the phone call, an ambulance from VINMEC Hospital quietly arrived. A couple of medics in light blue hazmat suits could be seen walking beside it but the ambulance was parked in such a way that we, nor any other onlooker, could make out any details. The medics were swift, comparatively. Within five minutes they were on their way.

Later on, in a private chat group, a bystander announced that he was at the scene when the man hit the ground. He said that he thought the man committed suicide but didn’t see it happen. All he heard was a loud thump. Whereas you’d think more information about the situation would have been released by an authoritative source, such as Vinhomes Management, this is Vietnam. That was that.


Yet another reason against Vietnam, the Communist Party of Vietnam and Communism. The man didn’t have a chance at surviving. Regardless of whether he committed suicide or was murdered, it took more than 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene. That might sound concerning in itself but its grossly unacceptable because VINMEC Hospital, which is where the VINMEC ambulance originated, is 400 meters away. There was absolutely no sense of urgency.

The park at Vinhomes Central Park has an abundance of CCTV cameras but none of them were pointed directly at the lookout towers. I can only assume that Vietnamese authorities had, at least, publicly handled the death as a suicide and the man who announced it probably was a suicide was a plant. The body language of the park security guards, however, was different the following days. Curious to see if anything had changed, I went back to the park over the next few days. Typically, pre-death, the park’s security guards would patrol the roads on a motorbike. We’d seldomly see them riding elsewhere. However, contrary to before, the park’s security guards frequently could be seen patrolling the sidewalks and overhangs by motorbike as if they were looking for somebody or something. There were even plain clothed officers roaming around. Initially, I wasn’t sure if the man was murdered and I still don’t know but, based on the post-event awkwardness, my gut feeling is leaning in that direction. Else, there wouldn’t have been a need to change the SOPs.

Additionally, the lookout towers are only two stories tall. I don’t know what the average Vietnamese person thinks is a suitable height for committing suicide but that wouldn’t fit my qualifications. I’d definitely jump from something much higher to guarantee my death as there have been numerous stories of people, including babies, surviving falls from much greater heights. Many better, readily available options exist in and around Ho Chi Minh City. A few years ago, for example, a man had reportedly committed suicide by jumping from on or above the 20th floor of Landmark 4, which is an apartment building in the same area – Vinhomes Central park. By the way, we were deterred from living there because that gave your mother bad vibes. Actually, enough Southeast Asians would have the same thought as her. They believe in ghosts.

But, it’s possible that I could be wrong. My mind might be overthinking things. There are two scenarios that I haven’t ruled out. First, I’ve never suffered from depression. I don’t know if a person can be overcome with such an extreme will to die that he’d instantly jump from a platform two stories high. Plus, he was likely alone. Neither was anyone visibly upset nor were any screams heard before, during or after he died. We weren’t far away. So, maybe.

Conversely though, many people visit the park alone. Just as probable as that might sound, it also could’ve been a single guy taking pictures of the tallest building in Vietnam with an expensive DSLR in-hand and a bag full of lenses that got pushed over for his belongings. I’ve seen guys like that at the park. I saw one that day. An expat even had his DSLR camera bag stolen from him a five days before while he was stopped on his motorbike in front of The Manor, an apartment complex across the street from Vinhomes Central Park. Here’s the video he shared. He’s the guy in the orange shirt.

Second, both lookout towers were open the next day since the scene of death was cleaned overnight. People were taking selfies #landmark81 #vinhomescentralpark from atop the platforms and kids were playing on and around them like normal. No areas had been taped-off and no warnings/notifications were posted, anywhere.

If the man was murdered, do you think the local authorities would open the lookout towers, let alone general vicinity on the next day? My Western thinking wants me to believe that the area would still be shut if murder was a possibility but, honestly, the Vietnamese authorities (and the Communist Party of Vietnam) don’t care about deaths of unimportant people, which account for the majority of Vietnam’s population. Vietnamese authorities definitely don’t care about transparency, either. They go out of their way not only to protect important people but also important companies because the country’s leadership is very corrupt. Via the media, they only make an example of things that they want to use for an example. Vingroup, Vinhomes Central Park and Landmark 81 are definitely protected entities.


Nothing about how this situation went down should come as a surprise. It’s fuckin’ Vietnam. Disregard your probably Western view of how the world should be and try to see things at face value. You’re not entitled to anything here. You really don’t have any rights regardless of the fact that you’re half Vietnamese born in Vietnam. So, don’t put yourself into precarious circumstances or bring about unnecessary troubles. Even if there are witnesses, they will likely remain silent because of those edicts. There were plenty of witnesses around us when your mother’s phone was stolen but none of them said a word.

Like I said before, Vietnamese are sheep. The Communist Party of Vietnam has done a fantastic job of effectively muzzling its populace. Vietnamese courts sentence people to longer prison sentences for what it considers “anti-state propaganda” than someone who had committed murder. Companies, likewise, get off with a slap on the wrist. The will to survive at all costs should not be underestimated. That’s one of their core principles, including your mother.

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