Rumor has it that an ethnic minority group in central Vietnam knows a special species of plant which, if couples just put its leaf in the pocket or lie on it, will prevent them from having babies. Recently, a doctor told Tuoi Tre that the story is true and that initial tests on white mice and humans prove it is really effective.
According to hearsay, the mysterious plant is called anăng and grows inside a deep forest in Huong Hoa District in Quang Tri Province bordering Laos. The location is known only to a few family heads from Van Kieu, a small ethnic minority group in the province.
For Van Kieu people, single men and women have the freedom of ‘đi sim’ which is dating for pre-nuptial sex as their ancestors did in the forest generations before. But legend has it that no single Van Kieu girl became pregnant or had unexpected babies.
It is thanks to their secret coming from this anăng plant. Van Kieu people said anăng is the miracle that God bestows on them. With anăng, men and women can spend whole night long enjoying sensual pleasures without worrying about pregnancy.
Leaf of God
During a night in a deep forest in Huong Hoa District in Quang Tri, bordering Laos, Tuoi Tre journalists had a drinking party by a cooking fire in a house on stilts with the village patriarch named Ho Pay. After getting high on liquor, visitors began talking about the special leaf.
Ho Pay confirmed that “it’s exact that the anăng leaf can be used for contraception. Thanks to the leaf, men and women are free to ‘đi sim’”.
But not any one knows it except for a small elite group of family patriarchs, Ho Pay told Tuoi Tre.
Only several elderly people within some certain family circles know where it grows. They come to the forest in person, pick the leaf and prepare it at home for their grandsons and granddaughters. With the leaf stuck on the body, in the pocket and put under the back, men and women are free from pregnancy, he said.
“Now, few people know about it. Most just hear stories”, Ho Pay reiterated.
Ho Pay absolutely refused to show the plant.
“I give up. I forgot to remember where it is as I haven’t been there for a long time,” he said. “But it’s not fun to see it. It is the leaf of God and it is banned to show it to outsiders.”
Leaving Ho Pay, journalists took the story to Ho Chu in his age of 70s, who is a researcher of Van Kieu culture and a master of customs and practices of the ethnic minority people.
“Anăng is true. I used it. Its effect is like a miracle,” he assured.
But he also refused to lead journalists to the location of anăng.
A local living in Huc Nghi Commune in Quang Tri’s Dakrong District agreed to help to find anăng, saying an elderly man in Cop village knows about anăng and will show it if visitors make offerings of a chicken and a bottle of alcohol to God.
But when Tuoi Tre journalists arrived at his house, the man had left for Laos to see his relatives the previous day.
Finally, journalists heard that a medical doctor named Duong Quat has found the plant and is now living in Dong Ha District in Quang Tri. The doctor confirmed via telephone that, “I have found anăng.”
He initially refused to show the anăng but the doctor in his age of 70s agreed to receive visitors at his home. Duong Quat is former chairman of the Committee of Population and Family Planning of Quang Tri and now chairman of the Association of Disabled Children and Agent Orange/Dioxin Victims.
He said he heard of the plant when was a soldier in Truong Son forest. While working for state agencies, he began the journey to search for it and through the help of friends and colleagues he said he was finally given an anăng tree after making offerings of a big pig, alcohol, and almost 100kg of rice.
Quat brought the tree to his home over ten years ago.
He led the visiting journalists to the terrace on the top of his house and showed the mysterious plant.
It looks like a plant of the orchid family.
After possessing the tree, Quat was granted VND100 million (US$4,800) from the National Committee of Population and Family Planning headed by the then minister Mai Ky for research on its effect.
Effective results were obtained from tests on white mice and tens of couples volunteering to try it, he said.
But the research has remained half done due to the lack of expense and so, the story about anăng is left unfinished.
Foreigners contacted him to have the plant and his half done work for a high price but he refused, he said.