Turtles at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi

The lucky turtle

Good luck is so important in Vietnamese culture. I had a most peculiar encounter with those words in Hoi An, on the central coast of Vietnam…

As I’m standing here by the doorway of my guest house in Dalat (Vietnam), waiting for the bus to pick me up, I look up just above my head and see something that makes me smile… Hanging in the doorway is a decorative bell with a Chinese sign and the words ‘Good luck’. It’s quite ironic that I’ve heard those words more than any other in the past three weeks, after having written a post on being lucky or purposeful.

Turtles at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Good luck is so important in Vietnamese culture (and many other Asian cultures I suspect). You pat the head of a turtle statue for good luck and long life (I suppose if one knows about long life, it is the turtle!); you ask Buddha everything you want and most certainly good luck; you buy an embroidered keychain for good luck and so on.

I had a most peculiar encounter with those words in Hoi An, on the central coast of Vietnam. Little had I entered a store that the shop assistant explained with such great enthusiasm that I was good luck to her because I was the first customer in two days (a story I heard again a few shops down the road. Quite surprising considering the number of tourists in town…!). She was so full of ‘conviction’ (read ‘hope’) that I’d bring her good luck that she went on to show me everything around me and stepped on my injured toe on the way. I stepped back in pain, knocked my other foot on a metal bar and cut open my heel.

She was apologetic while I was cleaning the blood off my feet, but as soon as it was clean, she pursued: “You good luck for me! You buy something from me!”

I’m not quite sure to this day how our little bleeding episode was meant to be good luck for her (and even less for me!)… She stuck to her story and I walked away empty handed, but with a sore toe and a bleeding heel.

So based on all this, I think I will stick to my faith in being purposeful… But just in case, I patted the turtle’s head! 😉

1 comment on “The lucky turtleAdd yours →

  1. You made me laught with your story about turtle but sorry for your injury… My sister give me a turtle when she came back from her trip (Cayman) last year, so now I will known what to do with. Alors maintenant je lui taperai sur la tête pour me souhaiter la chance….elle sera plus pratique que jamais!!! 😉 Bonne journée Kim!! xx

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