Voltage. It’s just as happy to zap you in Hanoi as in Hinkley. In the many houses we’ve rebuilt in the US, we’ve learned that high-voltage electrical service entrances are treated as life-or-death projects. They have separate permits and special inspections. If ever it were possible for someone to touch an insulated service entrance wire, the electrical inspector would have a stroke. Here’s a glimpse at US code requirements for an overhead entrance; underground entrances are just as fussy.
Here in Hanoi, there’s obviously been a strong push to relocate electrical lines underground. This creates a much better-looking street scene than in Bangkok (or, to a lesser extent, Minneapolis) where unsightly wires dangle everywhere. But high-voltage service entrances casually emerge from under the sidewalk and are easily touched by any damp-fingered toddler who happens along. This mystifies me.