JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

On Hanoi's Red River, fruitsellers forgo comfort for cash

Friday, September 13, 2019, 16:00 GMT+7
On Hanoi's Red River, fruitsellers forgo comfort for cash
Vietnamese migrant workers living on Hanoi's Red River rise before dawn to buy fruit wholesale before heading to a market. Photo: AFP

Card games and karaoke help migrant workers pass the time on the cramped houseboats of Hanoi's Red River, swapping their privacy to eke out a living selling fruit for a few dollars a day.

Temporary residents of these open-air boats have left the countryside in search of higher wages in the city.

Life on a floating guesthouse can be tough. There is no electricity and no running water for the 40 US cents a night rent.

Everyone sleeps on thin mats, exposed to the elements inside the open-sided boats, while privacy is non-existent with mosquito nets the only partitions between cramped living quarters.

The temporary residents of open-air boats on Hanoi's Red River have left the countryside in search of higher wages in the city. Photo: AFP

The temporary residents of open-air boats on Hanoi's Red River have left the countryside in search of higher wages in the city. Photo: AFP

But the migrant workers can earn up to $8 a day selling bananas, mangoes, dragon fruit and lemons on the back of bikes or in the market stalls of Vietnam's bustling capital.

That's four times what Nguyen Thi Hong earned at a rural garment factory.

"I couldn't earn enough money to raise my kids," she said, explaining that her three children are back home with their father in Ba Vi, 60 kilometres (35 miles) from Hanoi.

"So I moved here."

Every year, more than 260,000 migrants stream into Hanoi and the southern megacity of Ho Chi Minh City to study or work. Photo: AFP

Every year, more than 260,000 migrants stream into Hanoi and the southern megacity of Ho Chi Minh City to study or work. Photo: AFP

Every year, more than 260,000 migrants stream into Hanoi and the southern megacity of Ho Chi Minh City to study or work. Many take up temporary jobs in construction or as housekeepers, nannies and traders.

Wages in Vietnam's cities are at least double those of the countryside in a nation where the World Bank says the average annual income is around $2,600.

There is no electricity and no running water on the floating guesthouses of Hanoi's Red River. Photo: AFP

There is no electricity and no running water on the floating guesthouses of Hanoi's Red River. Photo: AFP

Migrant workers struggle to access "decent work and government services" and are vulnerable to sexual or labour abuse, said Nguyen Quoc Nam of the International Organization for Migration in Hanoi.

But for many of the workers living on the Red River, the flexibility and camaraderie that comes with selling fruit brings fragments of comfort.

"It's a big home where we share our troubles with each other. If I'm in a pinch I can easily borrow money," said 54-year-old market seller Han Van Hoa, who's been coming to the boat for about 10 years with his wife.

For many Vietnamese migrant workers living on Hanoi's Red River, the camaraderie that comes with selling fruit brings fragments of comfort. Photo: AFP

For many Vietnamese migrant workers living on Hanoi's Red River, the camaraderie that comes with selling fruit brings fragments of comfort. Photo: AFP

Like the rest of his temporary neighbours, he rises before dawn to buy his fruit wholesale before heading to a Hanoi market.

While the city has transformed into a fast-growing commercial centre, Han Van Hoa says people like him have remained rooted to the bottom of the social pyramid.

"Hanoi has developed," he said. "But we haven't."

AFP

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news