Give it in writing: no spoken word at Saigon smoothie stall

By Phong Vinh   October 25, 2018 | 10:20 am GMT+7
Give it in writing: no spoken word at Saigon smoothie stall
Tuyet Mai next to her smoothie street vendor on Vo Van Tan Street. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh

A Saigon street stall has been taking smoothie orders in writing for 28 years. The owners cannot hear or talk.

On the busy Vo Van Tan Street in District 3, a small smoothie cart run by a deaf-mute couple opens for business, come rain or shine.

Tuyet Mai, 47, and her husband Son Chien, 57, have had their hearing and speech impairments since they were kids.

Mai is from Da Nang in the central region, while Chien hails from the Mekong Delta in the south.

Chien fell in love with Mai when they both attended a school for the hearing-impaired in Binh Duong Province.

Under the dim light of the stall, Mai outlined their story in writing.

Once, she got so angry at Chien that she left Binh Duong and returned to Da Nang.

But Chien did not give up his pursuit. He talked to people around and journeyed thousands of kilometers to reach Mai’s hometown and asked for her hand in marriage.

After their wedding, the couple chose Saigon as the place to settle down and call their new home.

They live inside a small house on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, which is not far from their stall. People in the neighborhood of the stall have helped the couple out, moved by their story and their diligence.

"I feel sorry for her, so for many years I’ve been providing free water so she can wash dirty dishes," said a young man living nearby.

The owner of a boutique shop also lets the couple to hook and use its electricity source for just VND400,000 ($17) per month. The couple park their cart inside a house on the same street for VND100,000 ($4.30) per month.

At around 6:00 p.m., Chien will bring washed fruit from home to the stall for Mai to arrange them in the cabinet. To ensure freshness, Mai said she buys the fruits from someone she knows in the wet market or from the supermarket.

Tai, their nephew who also suffers from congenital hearing and speech impairments, helps the couple out. The three communicate with each other in sign language, using their hands and eyes, mainly.

Customers, however, are won over by the friendly smiles with which they are welcomed to the stall.

Guests can sit on a low table and choose from 20 different smoothie and juice options on the menu, writing down what they want on a piece of paper.

The vendor provides pen and paper so customers can wriite down their order. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh

The vendor provides pen and paper so customers can wriite down their order. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh

At VND30,000 ($1.3) per cup, the couple sells hundreds of smoothies and juices each night. The stall is open daily from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m..

Hien, a resident of Vo Van Tan Street, said: “I have been drinking smoothies here for more than 10 years. Even when it rains, I see them set up their stall. So I come here whenever I can to support this hardworking couple.”

 
 
go to top