Since the day he was born, Mr. Vang Seo Chung, resided in Ta Lu Than village, Ha Giang province has lived for over 40 years with a half meter tail.
According to border soldiers, the land of Pa Vay Su, located in westernmost of Ha Giang province is famous for its mystery. They even call this land “the tail of weasel,” because there are many legends as well as truths; the natural world which still can’t be explained.
Among of all strange tales, the one with a tail seems to be the oddest. Hence, we go through a 200 kilometer road to witness the man with a tail with our own eyes.
After a long and tired trip, we reached Pa Vay Su border station then, we walked from the station to Ta Lu Than village and it was exhausting. The road was quite dangerous as the steepness is so high.
When we came to Ta Lu Than village, everyone responded “chu pau” (means don’t know) to us. A border soldier led us to a house in the middle of this village. Unfortunately, there was no one there. A female neighbor told us in H’Mong language that Chung had gone farming.
Some smudgy ragged little boys in the village volunteered to call Mr. Chung, who is called Chung “monkey’ by villagers. Till dusk, we saw Mr. Chung luring his buffalos home.
At the age of 43, Mr. Chung looks quite older than his age. Living in a harsh land like this makes everyone seems to be austere, including Mr. Chung.
Although he is small and thin, he has an extraordinary strength. He can walk a long distance without getting tired. Once, he walked over 200 kilometers to Ha Giang just for fun. Moreover, a few years ago, he heard the radio said SaPa was very beautiful so he walked through Si Ma, Bac Ha to Sapa, Lao Cai, which was over 300 kilometers just for sightseeing.
On this trip, he only carried a small bag of rice. On the way home, he hunted animals such as squirrels, mice and collected vegetable in the forest then, he asked local residents to cook in their houses. The residents allowed this and all of them got delicious meals.
Mr. Chung also can resist cold very well. In spite of the horrible winter in Pa Vay Su, Mr. Chung always wears an old shirt.
To prove his stories, Mr. Chung showed us his house. In his house there were no blankets or coat at all. He said no matter how cold the weather is, he only needs a small fire then he will sleep near it topless.
Mr. Chung said that “H’Mong people are poor but we are not lacking of food. Rice is little but corn is a lot. If we run out of rice, we eat corn. It’s always been always like that. It’s a tradition of H’Mong people; we don’t feel poor or harsh at all.”
Knowing that we had traveled a long trip to discover about his tail, we still hesitated to ask. He said “You want to see my tail, don’t you? I am willing to show you if you want. It’s not awkward at all. Thanks to this tail, I am famous. As my parents gave me birth with this, I accept it happily.”
Then, he lifted his shirt and showed us his long tail. It turns out that the tail grows from his waist rather than his hips. It is up to half a meter long with black color. Holding the tail, we touched lightly and felt very smooth. We used ruler to measure the length of this tail, it is exactly half a meter.
According to Mr. Chung, his village is lack of water so in winter he and his villagers rarely have shower. As a result, his tail turns to brown. But in summer, by having shower a lot, his tail is dark and very soft.
Mr. Chung said his tail grows 10cm longer each year. Four years ago, his tail was 3 meters and he could wrap it around his belly.
However, because his tail was too long, his wife asked him to shorten it. Agreeing with her, he cut it to the current length and after that he was horribly sick.
His wife also made a small bag for him to wrap his tail on his waist in case of going somewhere far.
Quickly, the sun went down and the darkness overwhelmed. Sitting in front of a flickering fire with his family, Mr. Chung, “monkey man,” recalled his childhood years.
Mr. Chung is the third child of a typical poor family in Ta Lu Than Village, Ha Giang Province.
Before getting married, Chung’s parents were both orphans. Living in harsh land under harsh weather, their lives were very hard, and they were always lacking of food.
Mrs. Hang Thi Cho, Chung’s mother can still remember the day Chung was born. “It was very cold, the day Chung was born. Rivers were frozen and snow fell heavily. I was farming then I suddenly had stomachache. I just wanted to fall down. I crawled home so hard just in time to give Chung’s birth. At that time, I made it all by myself without any help and any medical equipment.” she said.
There were no clinics in the village at that time so the labor was at home. Chung was born just like everyone else, except with a small fur in his waist. This made Mrs. Cho very worried because she had never ever seen any child that had a special body part like that.
Hence, her husband invited a shaman. This shaman was so terrified when he saw the boy’s waist that he ran out right away. Her husband had to invite another shaman from somewhere far. This time, the shaman told that a monkey ghost entered Chung’s body so a very big exorcism ceremony was needed.
The ceremony lasted a few days. The shaman killed a lot of chickens and sprayed fresh blood to dispel evil spirits. After that, he said to Chung’s parents that a tail would grow from this fur and it will bring fortune for their family.
Later, Chung’s tail grew and his family’s situation was actually better; crops were better and they had no sickness.
Mrs. Cho’s family had used to be the poorest but then they became the best off one. As a result, everyone believes that it was all because of Chung’s tail.
The more Chung grew , the longer the tail became. However, when Chung was 7, the tail suddenly dropped, then Chung was heavily sick. Despite much help, there wasn’t any improvement.
Fortunately, one day, the tail grew once again and Chung’s health was much better. From that day, Chung is very scared every time he thinks about cutting his tail off.
Not only bringing luck to the family, Chung also is an embodiment of the good, villagers consider him as a treasure. Everyone thinks if they can talk or drink with Chung, they will be very lucky then.
In his adult years, many girls had crush on Chung. Not only he is embodiment of luck he is also very hard-working. So the girl in the same village, Giang Thi Cha, did not hesitate to be Chung’s wife.
After a year of marriage, they had a daughter. Before that, Chung was worried that if there was any chance that his child would be like him.
The child was perfectly normal, as well as the next four children were normal. Chung was very happy.
With Chung, the tail is no longer his consideration. Thanks to it, now Chung is very famous. Everywhere he goes, everyone wants to admire his tail. Chung is very amused.
Once, while he worked in China, Chung accidentally exposed his tail, which made his Chinese friends very surprised. They were very curious and suspicious, so Chung had to show them his tail and many people touched his tail.
According to Chung’s family members, Chung is a perfect husband, a perfect father. Chung is very hard-working. “Having many children, Chung has to work hard all the time but he never complaints a thing,” his wife told.
The village chief, Giang Seo Hau, also wholeheartedly compliments him, “Chung and Cha are a very special couple. They never drink alcohol or get drunk like the others. When the dry season comes, it’s cold and we can’t plant anything so Chung often goes to China to look for a job in order to help his family and prepare for the next year.”
Besides farming, Chung was the first one think about afforestation. The day Chung carried “Sa mu” trees on the mountain, villagers said he was stupid.
Strongly, Chung’s forest grows after 10 years. Chung is always willing to give anyone wood if they are lacking. Now, everyone in the village agree wholeheartedly with Chung’s initiative.
I once asked Chung, if he had a lot of money, would he cut his tail off. He shook his head repeatedly, ‘Thanks to it, I have strength and my family has fortune. Villagers respect my tail as well, so there is no way I’d cut it off,’ he said.