by Van Dat
A moving tale of a mother and her children
A 40-year-old woman in Lam Dong Province lives virtually for her two young, paralytic children. Ka Ben carries Ha Gia, 12, and Ka Chieu, 10, to school, waits there for them to carry them to the toilet if needed, and brings them back home.
She has been doing this for the last four years, come rain or shine, carrying them to Son Trung elementary school in R'Chai 2 village in Duc Trong District.
Ha Gia and his younger sister together weigh more than the selfless mother.
Ka Ben said her family's financial condition originally did not allow sending the children to school. She and her husband used to leave them at home when they went for work.
But four years ago, when she got home from work one day, the children showed her a notebook in which they had written the alphabets in a fine hand, and said proudly, "We wrote this, Mom, and we want to go to schools like others. "It is so boring staying at home."
It touched her deeply.
She decided then that they would go to school and would travel on her legs. She also stopped working just to carry them to school, and she and her husband willingly accepted the hardship lesser money would mean.
Foreign foods hit the pavement in HCM City
Foreign cuisines, which used to be a preserve of fancy restaurants, have gone downmarket in HCM City. Some have even gone on to the streets. All are patronised by both Vietnamese and foreigners.
German Dieter Engele, 57, rides a motorbike loaded with sausages, baguettes, and a small oven to Hoang Dieu Street in District 4 at 6am every day.
A menu with pictures and prices hang on the side of his motorbike. He sets up a small stand on the back of the vehicle – large umbrella and all – and fries the sausages on the oven.
All around him are Vietnamese selling bread and sticky rice for breakfast.
La Phuong, who brings her son to a nearby school, says that a baguette stuffed with sausage costs VND25,000 (US$1.2).
"The sausage has an unusual taste that the kids love."
Engele says he came to Viet Nam in 2003 and fell in love with the country. He came again last year and, this time, fell in love with a woman. He decided to settle here.
"My girlfriend helped me write the menu and showed me how to combine sausage and Vietnamese baguette.
"I like to sell sausages on this mobile restaurant and hope I can live in Viet Nam until the end of my life."
Engele sells 70-100 sausage baguettes every day by the time he winds up at 8pm.
Ut Ut Restaurant's speciality is American BBQ on Vo Van Kiet Street in District 1. Since it does not accept reservations, often 20-30 people can be seen standing in a queue to wait for the food.
The restaurant serves hamburger, bacon, barbecued pork chop all cooked on the pavement in front.
Nguyen Cong Nhat, 40, says: "We are not used to queuing in Viet Nam, but this restaurant is always busy.
"People carry beer and booze and drink while waiting; that helps while away the time in the queue. The most important thing is that the prices, ranging from VND30,000-300,000, are reasonable."
The person doing the barbecue is American. His partners are from other western countries.
Interestingly, another German sells sausage on the roadside in Phan Xich Long Street. Japanese takoyaki is sold on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in District 1 and sushi on Nguyen Van Cu in District 5. — VNS