For some in Saigon, Tet is just another day

By Quynh Tran, Thanh Nguyen   January 27, 2017 | 10:06 pm PT
Street cleaners and vendors spent the first hours of the Year of the Rooster working like usual as holiday celebrations don't come cheap.

At 0:20 a.m. on Saturday, the first day of the new lunar year, Huynh Thi Kim Hoa was busy cleaning a street in Phu Nhuan District. "Perhaps I’ll get home around 3-4 a.m," the worker said.


A family gave Hoa some lucky money. “Street cleaners don't have time to celebrate Lunar New Year’s Eve, but it’s heartwarming to see that strangers care about us," she said.


At nearly 1 a.m. Nguyen Van Thanh from the northern province of Nam Dinh and his wife were trying to sell the last balloons on Truong Son Street, Tan Binh District. “This year sales have been low and we couldn't afford a trip home," Thanh said.


“This is the first time I don’t have Tet. It’s a strange feeling," another vendor said.


At 1 a.m., Pham Bay from Phu Yen Province carried a bag of donated gifts back to his small room on Hoang Van Thu Street, Phu Nhuan District. Bay has been selling lottery tickets for more than 10 years around Ho Chi Minh City. “I can’t go home this Tet because I don’t have enough money. But I’m glad people gave me a lot of gifts," he said.


Meanwhile, Vu was busy picking up bottles to sell to recyclers. “This is the night I can find lots of bottles. I’ve been selling scraps for over 10 years," Vu said.


A 62-year-old woman named An was also picking carton boxes.


“I’ve been sitting in front of this pagoda but no one cared to buy the lottery. They are too busy preparing for Tet," said 65-year-old Hon.


Enjoying his instant noodles, repairman Luong Huy Kip in Tan Phu District kept looking out for flat tires. “Although I don’t earn much during Tet, it’s my job to be here," Kip said.

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