By Katrina Griffiths
Worms and head lice! Oh horror of horrors, we have been followed by the very scum of primary school, and found ourselves on holidays, infested by both. How on earth do you say “Combantrin” in Vietnamese?
As we mums know, one of the joys of motherhood is that we get to play host/murderess to the various creatures that our kids bring home from school. If we are really lucky, joy of joys, they even bring them on holiday! So here I am, looking in the Lonely Planet travel guide, and there is no section on “where to buy nit combs and worm tablets in Vietnam”… (Note from Itchee Feet… perhaps we should do a series of guides on this!!!)
I went into a shop that seemed to specialise in shampoo and washing powder (since that was all they sold), thinking that they might have a choice of shampoos for killing bugs and a matching fine-toothed comb like we have in Australia. No such luck. I was offered one of those big combs you use to fluff up your perm so I ended up drawing a picture of what I needed, complete with bugs, and the look I got was one of such shock and disbelief that I scurried away, completely humiliated. I have searched high and low, and I have been completely out of luck when it comes to the lice, as it appears that nobody in Vietnam has them. Well that was until they met my family!
The children have been completely mobbed here. I love the way the Vietnamese are completely uninhibited in their curiosity and affection towards kids (actually, in my experience, that applies to everywhere in Asia that I have visited with the children). It is completely normal for the girls to be hugged, kissed, picked up and carried off by complete strangers who mean no harm at all, who just think that they are adorable. Making a big fuss of children is part of the culture, they are welcome everywhere, and nobody gives you funny looks if your kid throws a tantrum…
I hope all the locals who’ve hugged the kids don’t have nits now.
As for the worms, I went into a dispensary, drew a picture of some wriggly looking things, pointed to my belly and was immediately understood. Thank goodness for that. Just so you all know, if you are in Vietnam and need worm tablets for your children, they are called “Fugacar”. They are suitable for the whole family, aged 12-months and up. Worms sorted, but if you’re travelling overseas with primary aged children TAKE YOUR OWN NIT TREATMENT AND COMB!