Ant-men: The skinny porters of Saigon Chinatown market

Thanh Nien News

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Always overladen with heavy sacks, the porters at Binh Tay Market risk their lives to make a living


Porters at Binh Tay Market in Ho Chi Minh’s District 5 are possibly the strongest workers in town. They have to carry hundreds of kilos of goods every day around one of the busiest trading centers of the country. 
A vendor loads nine boxes of kids’ snacks onto a porter, who does not seem very muscular. Porters like him often have to handle more than they can, especially when the market receives a large amount of goods. 
Their job does not only require a strong back and shoulders, but also they have to be brisk to move fast around the crowded market. They need to remember all the booths in the market as well.
Each porter earns VND100,000 to VND200,000 (US$4.6-9.2) a day. The porters work in seven groups and the payment is shared between group members. 
Toan, a 51-year-old porter, has a short break. He is one of nearly 100 porters working at the market. 
The hardest part of the job is to carry goods upstairs. Each porter here has to carry nearly 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of goods each day and several times more during the shopping season before the Lunar New Year. 
Hong, 46, rushes back to work in the middle of his lunch after receiving a call. “There’s no break time. If some deliveries arrive while you’re eating and no one else is available, you have to leave your lunch,” he told news website VnExpress. 
Binh, 24, said the job is hard but at least it gives him something to take care of his family. Most of the porters said they don’t have a better option. 
Most of them choose not to think about the consequences to their health. A 41-year-old porter named Tin said some older workers have told him about having joint diseases, “but I still feel alright.” "I will continue to work as long as I can."
The workers complete their day at around 4 p.m. after the last deliveries arrive. They start working at 7 a.m., also on weekends and holidays. 

     Photo credit: VnExpress

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