Tet spirit bears fruit in a Saigon vendor’s hands

By Quynh Tran   February 3, 2019 | 05:31 pm GMT+7

A Saigon fruit vendor who won't go home for the festival gets into the Tet spirit like no one else.

Tet spirit bears fruit in a Saigon vendors handsTet spirit bears fruit in a Saigon vendors hands

Hoang Van Hien, 40, has been selling fruits on the streets of Saigon for several years. He started decorating his fruit cart in late 2017 to attract more buyers.

For this coming Lunar New Year, his cart has been decorated with artificial ochna (yellow Mai) and peach blossoms, red and golden Tet ornaments, palm leaves and Tet notices. Adding to the fruit cart’s uniqueness is its music speaker and an advertized wifi router.

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Hien himself becomes a decorated person. His helmet has a big, colorful styrofoam extension on which a national flag is mounted and the word "ngon," which means delicious, is emblazoned.

Hien is native of Hung Yen, a province in northern Vietnam and has been in Saigon for almost a decade trying to keep his family clothed and fed, and his daughters in school.

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"I always think of myself as a funny man and whenever I can think of something unique, I just do it," Hien said.

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Even his flipflops and wheels are decorated. Around the cart are boards that say: "Sorry if my cart bothers the traffic flow"; "Do not litter"; or "For a clean, green and beautiful city."

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Most of the fruits Hien sells, like the guavas in the picture, are from the Mekong Delta. 

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Hien decorates his fruit cart not just for the Tet season but for many other occasions as well.

"I dress my cart up also for Christmas, the Mid-Autumn Festival and even the football season, when Vietnam is playing."

Every day, he drives the cart all over Saigon to sell the fruits.

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Kien, a buyer, says he was driving when he first saw the fruit cart. "I decided to stop and buy some fruits from Hien only because I was curious. Then I found out that he’s very funny and sells his fruits cheap. Since then, I’ve become his loyal customer."

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It is a common phenomenon that many customers want to selfies with Hien and his cart. He is happy to oblige, each time.

"I can sell around 100 kilos of fruit each day and earn just enough to raise my two daughters," he said, revealing that he will not get back to his hometown [Hung Yen] for this Tet, the biggest holiday of Vietnamese people and most important occasion for family reunion.

 
 
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