Wednesday, February 9, 2011


We are all averse to infectious diseases. They can leave us unwell, bed-ridden, or dead.  In Vietnam, there is an active mosquito community.   I am sure they have a philanthropic side, but generally they are parasitic, insidious, and indefatigable.  Besides the scarlet hillocks of pain they leave behind on our epidermal landscape, they also disperse bountiful gifts such as dengue fever and malaria.  Malaria is more of a rural malady, but the urban model of con muỗi found here in Saigon doesn't disappoint - they are physically slight, quick on the wing, insatiable, and an unabashed dengue carrier.

Dengue Fever - "Sleepwalking Through the Mekong"

As the prevalence of mosquito-borne illnesses is relatively high in these parts, I have dedicated a small part of my domestic livelihood towards a very noble and humble cause - self-preservation. Excuse the trite war metaphor, but here is a sampling of the weaponry I've employed during this protracted conflict.

Electric racket - sadistic, instantly effective, and entertaining.  Fun for the whole family, but bad for karma.

Raid Plug-Ins - an American device that spews a noxious, perfumed scent.  Your house smells faintly like a French bordello and I'm convinced they do nothing. Classic placebo effect.

Mosfly coils - a recent addition to my arsenal. However, after some cursory research, I discovered that burning one coil over eight hours emits as much formaldehyde and carcinogens into the air as roughly 100 angry cigarettes would. Cough, sputter, cough, hack...

DEET-based repellents - good for everyday use, but you tend to feel as if you're on one, long, interminable camping trip.

Geckos - they supposedly find mosquitoes tasty, but does that mean they also find human blood tasty? Are our seemingly innocuous reptilian housemates secretly plotting to devour us in our sleep?

Antihistamine creams - we've discussed the prophylaxes, but how about post-bite treatment. This promethazine-based pharmaceutical is a wonder drug that we first purchased in Italy after a bedbugs episode. Our bottle is running low.  Consequently, our future looks bleak and itchy.

According to a fascinating and slightly misogynistic Vietnamese myth, we can thank the flighty social-climber Nhan Diep for making the Mekong Delta a haven for these winged beasts. READ THE TALE HERE


David said...

Gavino, my boy. What a scribbler. Words flowing out like the Pearl River to the sea, just grazing the banks, just touching the shore, then to disappear. Ah, so good to be so entertaining and informative. The gentle mosquitos have found themselves their own narrator in the body of their doom. It is amazing, is it not, that after thousands and thousands of years they are still coming up from the river and still finding those too daft to get themselves a very cheap mosquito net! So they get bit and then complain. It is theme for an opera, HoChiMinhCity Complainer. Appreciatevely, DLE

Carol said...

Love the SLEEPWALKING THROUGH the MEKONG while reading this post.

Isis said...

Is David single?

Nellie said...

Poppers: interestingly enough many parents put their small children, infants up to three year olds, in full mosquito-net jump suits covering their entire face and body.

Mom: Glad you enjoyed the song!

Katie said...

i had one of those electric fly swatters in argentina!! they were gold for those squeeters!!! glad you guys get to enjoy this evil little device too! you should try snagging a moth, it smokes up pretty big -also devilishly amusing time!

Ned said...

Wow, they don't even have bugs in England! I feel like I'm missing out.