Monday, June 13, 2011
There are 10,000,000 people living in Saigon and there are 5,000,000 motorbikes that get them where they want to go. There are no Mr. Goodwrench outlets or dealer repair shops in small shopping centers along the main thoroughfares, but the Vietnamese are nothing if not resourceful. This picture shows the Saigon solution. Every morning this guy hauls his toolbox and compressor somehow from someplace and sets up on the corner just down the street from our apartment. I don't know how he hauls his gear. I've looked around his "shop" for a trailer or wheels or some device that would help him move the stuff every day, but I don't see it. I know he doesn't just heft that compressor onto the back of his motorbike. It probably weighs close to 200lbs. Nevertheless, every morning he sets up shop and every evening he breaks it down and hauls it away.
These corner repair shops are scattered all over the city and this is where flat tires get topped up or patched, clogged fuel lines get cleared, and broken brake cables get replaced. There are small vendors and service providers on almost every sidewalk in Saigon. Most of them, whether they are serving snacks or selling sim cards for your mobile phone transport their "business" to their offices in a small aluminum and glass trolley/cart. And many of them are in position and doing business for only a couple of hours a day. My favorite breakfast cart shows up about 6:00am and is gone by 9:30. I think the couple that owns it must go to other jobs after they're through serving breakfast to the regulars. The woman next to them sells Coke and some other soft drinks and she's there until mid-afternoon. These folks know their clientele.
Saigon is a feast for all the senses and a real lesson in entrepreneurial activity.