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Street Cred: Lac Long Quan and Au Co

Street Cred is the rearview mirror by which we’ll explore the meaning behind the signs. Look for it every Friday. Enjoy!

There are many types of legends in this world. There are living legends, like Diego Armando Maradona (all praise to EL D10S!). There are fake legends, like John Legend (whose real name is actually John Roger Stephens). And then there are real legends, like Joan of Arc, The Loch Ness Monster, and Joffrey Lannister (R.I.P). For this week’s Street Cred column, we’ll be taking a look at legends of the latter type.

Like many cultures out there, Vietnamese folks also have a fanciful creation myth about their origins. As the story goes, the Vietnamese are descendants of a dragon king and a fairy queen. The dragon genes came from Lac Long Quan, the 2nd king of Vietnam who ruled around 2800 B.C., while the fairy genes were provided by his wife, Au Co. 


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According to legend, Lac Long Quan was a dragon king who ruled the seas. He fell in love with Au Co, a beautiful fairy who lived in the mountains of North Vietnam. As with any typical DRAGONxFAIRY collaboration, their union resulted in a huge sac of eggs from which 100 children hatched. Sadly, for both Lac Long Quan and Au Co, their relationship just wasn’t meant to be. He, a dragon from the water, and she, a fairy from the mountains, were too incompatible despite their immense love. They decided to separate, with him taking 50 kids southward via the sea, and her taking the remaining 50 to live with her in the mountains. One of these dragon-fairy kids would eventually succeed Lac Long Quan on the throne, while the other 99 kids would slowly, but surely, disseminate their dragon-fairy DNA throughout Vietnam.

Upon their separation, Lac Long Quan and Au Co never saw each other again. Thousands of years later, at a noisy intersection in Tan Binh District, some clever chap in the city planning department made the dragon king and fairy queen cross paths once again. While not exactly a fairytale ending, these streets do serve their purpose in reminding Vietnamese people of their legendary beginning. 

About the Writer 

California is where he’s from, Saigon is where he’s at and this column is where he could be found. If you’re looking for a freelance writer specializing in Vietnam, please contact Vinh at vinh@berkeley.edu.

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