This weekend, we went back to the amazing hot pot restaurant since our friend Pam had friends visiting from England, and this is an experience that nobody should miss. We also invited along more friends from work, and that’s why things got weird.
On our third day in Vietnam, Ricki’s realtor invited us to go to a market with her and eat what she claimed were the best snails in Vietnam. Luckily, I was conveniently busy that day. Alison and Ricki went and devoured 4 kinds of snails. Ever since, we have all been praising their spirits of adventure. Chris, Alison’s teaching partner, has been especially vocal about how gross her decision was. In order to expand his horizons and maybe quiet him down, Alison ordered him a plate of snails at the hot pot restaurant. He refused to try one.
Chris really put into practice the teacherly advice to not give into peer pressure, and the rest of the table experimented with snails without him. I guess that this must have offended the waitstaff because they soon came out with a lethargic dragonfly which they kept asking Chris (and only Chris) to put in his belly button. We were mostly sure that our language barrier was preventing us from understanding the request, but their charades were quite convincing that they would not leave until the bug had been allowed to perch on Chris’s stomach.
When we asked why, they just kept repeating “swimming.” Clare and some others interpreted that to mean that this was a fertility treatment. Still a bit unclear, but the brave, peer-pressure resistant (but not bully-proof) Chris decided just to let the bug rest on his navel. Afterward, I did a bit of googling to find out why, and it seems he was tricked.
According to this website– Those kids that have ointment rubbed into their navels are the fortunate ones, because another Vietnamese childhood myth is the one that states: ‘if you let a dragon-fly bite your navel several times, you will be able to swim without ever being taught how to do so’. Pity those poor kids who fall for this one!
This one says – There’s an anonymous saying: Let a dragonfly bite your belly button and you will be able to swim after 4 days. All the small kids believed this to be so, and all the big kids encouraged the smaller ones to believe it. I was one of the small kids then. “What kind of dragonflies?” Well, it should be a big one, one that looks like a military helicopter with black and green colours. We call it Chuon chuon Ngo. I found one and let it bite my belly button. I screamed louder than ever while other kids pushed me into the water. In pain, I hoped the miracle would come true. Then I started drowning, with the dragonfly still biting my belly button. When they saved me, the dragonfly died of drowning, too, and I refused to go back into the water for 20 years!
Chris got pranked. I got entertained. Win.