Living between two neighboring walls in Saigon

By Mong Diep   October 15, 2019 | 02:06 pm GMT+7

A house in Saigon's District 10, squeezed into a one-meter wide space using the walls of two other houses, shelters four people.

The one-meter wide, seven-and-a-half-meter long house is the home of Nguyen Van Ton, 82, his wife Trinh Thy Y, 74, their daughter, 53, and her grandchild, 12.

The one-meter wide, seven-and-a-half-meter long space in an alley on Vinh Vien Street is home to Nguyen Van Ton, 82, his wife Trinh Thy Y, 74, their daughter, 53, and her grandchild, 12.

The house was built 50 years ago when Mr. Ton came to Saigon from Long An to work as a construction worker. He built the place himself, squeezing three floors and a mezzanine in between the walls of the two neighboring houses.Even though the house is small, with the help of the wards committee, I was issued a land use right certificate, a house number, along with electricity and water meters, Mr. Ton shares.

The house was built 50 years ago when Ton came to Saigon from the Mekong Delta's Long An Province to work as a construction worker. He built the place himself, squeezing three floors and a mezzanine in between the walls of the two neighboring houses.

"Even though the house is small, with the help of the ward's committee, I was issued a land use right certificate, a house number, along with electricity and water meters," Ton said.

Y, 74, has retired as a nurse at a public hospital. She has lived with Ton in the house all their marriage. We cannot afford a bigger house. It did not bother us much in the past because we went out to work all day and only came home for sleep.

Y has retired as a nurse at a public hospital. She has lived with Ton in the house throughout their married life. "We cannot afford a bigger house. It did not bother us much in the past because we went out to work all day and only came home to sleep."

In order to watch the TV, he has to stand near the box since there is no space to sit. It does not bother him as the position helps him hear better.The couple has never had guests come inside the house. There’s not even enough space to walk straight in the house, let alone sit. I have whoever drops by sit outside in the alley, Mr. Ton laughs.

In order to watch the TV, Ton has to stand near the box since there is no space to sit. It does not bother him as the position helps him hear better.

The couple has never had guests come in. "There’s not even enough space to walk straight in the house, let alone sit. I have whoever drops by sit outside in the alley," Ton said, laughing.

The deeper the house, the darker it gets so the family leave the light on all day. The small corner at the very end serves as a bathroom, a laundrette, and a dishwashing place.

With no ventilation or windows, the house gets darker away from the front door. The family has to leave light on all day. The small corner at the very end serves as a bathroom, a laundrette, and a dishwashing place.

An old narrow upright ladder connects the floors. Mr. Ton cushions the steps with rags to ease foot pain.

Old narrow upright ladders connect the floors. Ton cushions the steps with rags to ease foot pain.

Mr. Ton’s small corner is on the third floor.

The floors of the upper levels are mere wooden and steel boards. Some spots have to be secured with tape. Ton’s small corner is on the third floor.

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On one floor stands the family's altar for the Buddha.

Even though the house is small, with the help of the wards committee, I was issued a land use right certificate, a house number, along with electricity and water meters, Mr. Ton shares.Y puts the last of her embryo duck eggs in a bag to close her business at 2 p.m. She and her husband was going to collect her pension. They leave the house door open.Why bother closing the door? There’s nothing valuable to steal in that ugly house anyway.

The space in front of their house is enough for the couple to run a fertilized duck egg (hot vit lon) stall. They have been selling 20-25 eggs a day for the past 15 years.

 
 
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