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Having left Hanoi in the 2000s, chị Bé recalled those first old days when she moved to Sai Gon. “On those days, my husband and I came to Saigon with no money in hopes of surviving. The journey on the bus from the North to the South was such a long journey. I still remember a night vividly when we crossed the Hai Van Pass, one of the most dangerous mountainous areas in Vietnam. High pass, craggy mountain, shaking bus, and clouds all around, all of that made us both felt lost and afraid of the future ahead. Arriving in Saigon, my husband and I rented a motel room before moving to District 7, where we still live now.”
Moving here, her husband works as a construction worker, and Chị Bé sells sticky corn at Cho Lon. She said that “My income is not stable, but depends much on luck since not every day I have customers. When it rains, I make a temporary shelter. But, in those days, fewer people stop on the street to buy sticky corn. In this market, there are not many people selling sticky corn like me. I am still working as a street vendor because I do not know which other job is more suitable for me than selling sticky corn. This job is a means to support my family. I had two little children to take care of at home. Therefore the days that I do not go to work are the days they will not have enough food to eat. In my homeland, the cost of living is cheaper, but there is no boarding school.
On the contrary, there are many boarding schools here, but things are more expensive. I have no choice. I have to let my children study at boarding school because if they do not, I can not go to work.”
When it comes to her homeland, chị Bé feels melancholic. “In the North, I have my relatives. Here, I just have my parents-in-law. Unfortunately, they passed away a long time ago. I have only returned home a few times in a decade because it costs a lot of money. I really want to visit my home, but I cannot. I got used to the pace of life here.”
Saigon became her home and her relatives.