C
hu Hong works with his wife selling Banh Mi in district 4 in a hem next to my apartment complex. This morning he made a banh mi thit nguoi (cold cuts baguette sandwich) and fried me an egg to add to the filling. It was delicious and cost 75c, would have been about 60c, but the egg added to the price. I sat on his stool and he talked a little about his life.

IMG_0397.JPG“I’ve lived here since I was a kid, in that house over there (points down the alleyway). Haven’t ever moved.

Yeah this neighborhood changed alot over the years. You can see construction right around the corner from you. High rises everywhere. Used to be helter skelter houses built everywhere instead of these complexes, hahaha.

My wife sells banh mi too, you might know her (I do). She sells right outside your apartment complex. She gets her cart there in the evening to late at night, and I sell during the day. At 2 AM she sells to all the construction workers on their break.They take the night shift and work throughout the night so my wife and I take shifts too. Or she’ll sell to the college students early in the morning, too. She sleeps during the day and I sleep at night, and work during the day.

I had a brother who escaped the country just like you did. He left and went to California with his wife. All the Vietnamese are there. Whenever his wife gets lonely they come back here and visit. It’s not easy there, he tells me. It’s really hard, they put in a lot of hard work. They worked at a car wash for many years to make a living. Now they work in an office, much easier work, so it’s better now. I see them come back every once in a while.

Come by a little later in the day next time and I’ll show you our place!”