9 to 5 in Ho Chi Minh City



It’s a busy morning in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s most populous city. The myriad beeping Vespa horns indicate this is a city where everybody has somewhere to be.


Jake sketches portraits free of charge in inner-city Tao Dan Park.

“In Vietnam, the young people don’t have enough time to learn about art,” he says.

“With this kind of project, I want to bring the art to them.”

Jake will keep drawing into the evening.


This street vendor sells miniature sponge cakes, a crunchy breed of waffle, and dried banana pressed into sheets almost as thin as paper.


Huyen and her media team are doing ‘vox pops’ for a Vietnam Television talk show.

“We work mostly on Saturday and Sunday, because that’s when people have breaks.”

Her production team use a piece of styrofoam as a light reflector.


 In District 6, construction workers implement a sanitation system along the banks of the Tan Hoa Lo Gom canal.


“I work two jobs. For one I collect waste paper. For the other I work in transportation.”

This local lives in a well-furnished, three storey home on the Tan Hoa Lo Gom shoreline. 


She’s concerned about the lengthy construction process just outside.


Nearby, Dung files away sugar cane stalks for juicing.


Makeshift businesses like Dung’s line many of Ho Chi Minh’s innermost districts.


In the Ben Thanh marketplace, you’ll find knock-off Nike, Vans and New Balance sneakers: a stable of brand names likely to attract Western trendsetters.


Moon is a shoe vendor.

The talented barterer will reduce her VND 2,500,000 (AUS $130) asking price to a lean VND 800,000 (AUS $40).

“Happy birthday!” She beams.


The markets stretch through a labyrinth of narrow thoroughfares.


In the food quarter, Lan sells cold drinks and easy-made Vietnamese delicacies.


Outside, the victuals are just as diverse.


All around Ho Chi Minh keeps bustling and breathing away into the night.


About Author

Jesse Thompson

Jesse Thompson is in his third year of a dual Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Film and Television and Media Studies. He flexes his writing skills as a film critic for various local outlets, but he is also passionate about quality radio and video production. Jesse will graduate in July of 2016 and hopes to subsequently take up a career in documentary reporting.

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