So, Nurse Myra and I have been invited to visit our friends Tuan and Trinh. They’ve just finished doing some renovations on their apartment and they’re showing us around.

The gadget above, sitting on a table, catches my eye.

You’re probably thinking what I thought – some kind of tennis racquet, right? With a power button…? Hmmm. That’s weird. Maybe for a game or something?

“No, no, no!” says Tuan, and picks it up.

He swishes it through the air and there is a z-z-z-z-z-a-p! You know the kind of thing – like an Insect-O-Cutor® sound. And a little violet flash of light.

Oh man! It’s a rechargeable electric mosquito zapper that you can swing! All my life have I wanted this gadget, had I only known it existed.*

Yes, I had found the:


Of course I know that you’re way ahead of me with the ‘all purpose‘. Like, it’s just one purpose, surely? That being the total annihilation of the little blood-sucking creeps.

Aha! Again you’re forgetting the VCF (Vietnam Chaos Factor). Shall I elaborate? Sit back, grab a bowl of dried watermelon seeds, pop yourself a can of Bird’s Nest White Fungus Soda and get comfy.

Nurse Myra and I knew we had to get some of these things to take back home. Hell, with some judicious plugs from Engadget and boingboing I reckon I could sell off a container-load of hand-wieldable Ozzie Mozzie Terminatorsâ„¢ come Sydney summer, but for the moment we thought maybe we’d grab just a modest half dozen for friends and family. Next morning we headed off on our bicycles to a nearby electrical appliance shop.

With the help of our phrase book and some RADA-quality mosquito-extermination miming (with zapping sounds), we simultaneously amused the locals and procured our goods with lavish amounts of our exotic currency†. Now this is what Free Trade is all about!

Simplicity itself.

Unfortunately, Free Trade often comes a cropper when you cross the border, and The All-Purpose Mosquito-Killer Bat was to demonstrate one of its other purposes rather quickly; it is also very effective at holding up the departure of aircraft.

The next day, just as we were about to board our already delayed flight from Danang to Hanoi, we were taken aside by airport security people and quizzed about our belongings.

“You have a mosquito killer in your baggage, yes?” said the polite‡ official.

“Er… yes,” I said.

“It must be switched off for safety reasons,” she said.

“Oh, er, of course,” I said, feeling like a complete idiot. Little zillion-volt spark generator; aircraft-fuel/oxygen mix in the baggage compartment – I got the picture pretty quickly.

The Cellotape came out, there was some quick swishing and sticking – they’d done this kind of thing before. And we were on our way.

Danang to Hanoi, no problem. Hanoi to Sydney…

Nurse Myra got all her zappers confiscated at Sydney Customs.

“But why?” she asked.

“Because they are classified as dangerous weapons,” said the Customs Official.

Well, sure, if mosquitos are drawing up the Import Legislation.

“He told me you could kill a dog with one,” she told me later.

“You could kill a dog with a litre bottle of single-malt whisky,” I said “But they didn’t stop me from bringing that through”.

They somehow failed to stop me from bringing my Mosquito-Killer Bat through either. Tsk. How careless is that?

Do they have any idea who they’re dealing with?

All Purpose!

*Those living in colder climes sans mosquitos may not fully realize the magnitude of my rapture at this discovery. Calloo Callay! No more prancing naked around the bedroom in the middle of hot summer nights with a rolled up newspaper (well, not in the pursuit of exacting vengeance on mosquitos, anyway).

†They cost us about $3 each…

‡I should probably just dispense with the ‘polite’ whenever I’m talking about Vietnamese officialdom; it can just be assumed.