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​In Ho Chi Minh City, New Year’s Eve means extra business to laborers 

Monday, January 01, 2018, 11:31 GMT+7
​In Ho Chi Minh City, New Year’s Eve means extra business to laborers 
Tran Van Tan has his hands full fixing motorbikes on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Tuoi Tre

These laborers took to the sidewalk in search of extra business or worked longer hours than usual to make the most of the influx of people flocking to the downtown area on Sunday night, New Year’s Eve.

At 7:00 pm, Tran Van Tan, 52 and his wife pushed their cart loaded with bike-fixing tools to Dien Bien Phu Street, Binh Thanh District.

Bong and her mentally retarded son’s cart was loaded with more scrap than usual. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Bong and her mentally retarded son’s cart was loaded with more scrap than usual. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Around 11:00 pm, when the clock was about to strike midnight, his hands and clothing were stained with lubricants.

“We generally go home at 11:00 pm, but we’ll stay on longer tonight to earn some more,” Tan said, adding he also called on his younger brother to share the increased workload.

Tan normally does different menial jobs to eke out a living, from fixing motorbikes, delivering goods, repairing household appliances to working as a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver.

A sanitation worker is busy clearing the streets of trash as usual. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A sanitation worker is busy clearing the streets of trash as usual. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Meanwhile, a small-built woman with a bent back was painstakingly picking up scrap on Tang Nhon Phu Street, District 9.

The woman, in her 80s, was Bong, who weighed less than 35kg and could not remember her full name or real age.

Her mentally challenged son, who was about 45 years old, was pushing a home-built cart loaded with scrap.

A Russian woman peddles pictures on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A Russian woman peddles pictures on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Tuoi Tre

He kept mumbling and smiling to himself and sometimes stood still staring blankly.

The mother and son, more often than not, begin their day’s toil at 7:00 pm and work well into midnight every day.

During New Year’s Eve, more people gave them scrap, which meant a little higher earnings.   

The Russian woman’s words reveal she is a backpacker who was trying to earn some money for her trips. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The Russian woman’s words reveal she is a backpacker who was trying to earn some money for her trips. Photo: Tuoi Tre

At another corner, against the city’s hustle and bustle on New Year’s Eve, many youths slowed down and brought some warmth to destitute, homeless people.

A young couple stopped to talk to a homeless elderly woman sitting forlornly on Le Duc Tho Street, Go Vap District before hurriedly buying food, milk and fruits from a convenience store nearby to gift them all to her.

“We hope our small gifts help relieve her sufferings at this special moment,” they said.

A young couple gifts food and drinks to a homeless elderly woman on the street on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A young couple gifts food and drinks to a homeless elderly woman on the street on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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