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Life goes on: Saigon’s have-nots earn living amidst chilliest time of year

Monday, December 09, 2019, 17:13 GMT+7
Life goes on: Saigon’s have-nots earn living amidst chilliest time of year
Ha Thi Ut sits by her products on the sidewalk of Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

Although Ho Chi Minh City has entered its coldest time of the year, residents in the metropolis who have to work late at night and in the early morning, when temperatures are at their lowest, have not let the chill stop them from earning a living.

The weather in the southern Vietnamese metropolis has become quite frigid over the past week, especially at midnight, when mercury could drop to below 20 degrees Celsius.

The norm in tropical Vietnam is 30 degrees Celsius or higher.

The cold can be unpleasant to many citizens, who have grown used to the blistering heat that has been dubbed one of the city’s ‘specialties.’

In order to keep warm, local residents have been putting on extra layers when they are outside.

For people who have to earn a living outdoors late at night and early in the morning, this kind of weather can be challenging but is not a cause for them to cease their daily work.

At a corner on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in Tan Binh District, 94-year-old Ha Thi Ut keeps herself warm by wearing socks with her slippers, putting on layers of long-sleeved shirts and covering her head with a checkered scarf and conical hat.

Tran Thi Tam and her vegetables on Hoa Hung Street in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Tam and her vegetables on Hoa Hung Street in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

Ut sells a variety of products, namely vegetables, fruits, and ‘banh tet’ glutinous rice cakes, on the sidewalk.

The elderly woman said she and other traders travel for some half an hour from Go Vap District to the area at around 1:00 am on a daily basis.

Ut said she has been doing the job for more than 60 years to raise her five children.

Merchants head to Binh Dien wholesale market in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

Merchants head to the Binh Dien wholesale market in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

The children, who are now grown-ups, have asked Ut to retire but she just could not bear the thought of no longer doing what has become a major part of her life for a long time.

Meanwhile, Tran Thi Tam, a 60-year-old veggie seller, was covering herself up with a raincoat to brave the cold along the sidewalk of Hoa Hung Street in District 10.

Cold or warm, Tam said she has persistently got up very early in the morning to start her day’s work for the past two decades.

Merchants catch an early bus in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

Merchants catch an early bus in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

Despite the untypically cold weather, many people could be seen riding their motorbikes and carrying a large volume of products in the early hours in Ho Chi Minh City to get to the locations where they usually sell the goods to morning shoppers.

Under an overpass in Thu Duc District, Le Quang Thai and Tran Duy Tuan, who work as GrabBike drivers, have lit up a small fire to warm their hands amid the low temperature at 3:00 am.

Thai and Duy were waiting for their first passengers of the day near the Thu Duc wholesale market.

Two GrabBike drivers light a small fire to warm themselves under an overpass in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

Two GrabBike drivers light a small fire to warm themselves under an overpass in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

A woman buys flowers at a market in the early morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

A woman buys flowers at a market in the early morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

A married couple transports vegetables from a wholesale market to buyers in the downtown area in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

A married couple transports vegetables from a wholesale market to buyers in the downtown area in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

A woman sells vegetable along a street in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

A woman sells vegetable along a street in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

A woman sells sticky rice to commuters in the early morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

A woman sells sticky rice to commuters in the early morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

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