Swimming and cavorting in the nude for years, some men insist the Red River water is safe and keeps them virile and strong.
While they acknowledge that the Red River waters could be polluted, they shrug off any impacts it can have on their health. So they continue to swim in the river and play games on its banks, stark naked and completely unabashed.
Their activity is referred to as a fairy shower or tam tien in Vietnamese; a modern take on a legend about fairies with godlike beauty coming down from the sky to swim in a river after having deposited their holy silk dresses on its banks.
These days, the ‘fairy’ swimmers are a group of men who have been bathing in the buff in the Red River for many years, decades even. No one can pinpoint when exactly this nudist “tradition” began or who started it, but its current proponents are proud of what they do. They also assert that they are immune to any reported impurities in the river.
“I don’t feel itchy or anything. It really depends on each person’s skin,” Duong said.
The 33-year-old resident of Long Bien District has swum in the Red River “365 days a year” for years, so much so that any temporary absence from the activity becomes a “longing and yearning for a lover in her absence.”
Original publication 19 November, 2019
Posted on NatCorn 5th December 2019
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