Belarusian hawks cakes for a living in Saigon amid pandemic

A Belarusian whose travel agency in Nha Trang was laid low by the Covid-19 pandemic now sells cakes on Saigon’s streets to earn a living.

At the end of February vendors around Tan Dinh Market in District 1 and visitors began to notice a foreign woman every morning. "Cake! Cake!" she would yell out in Vietnamese with a slight accent. She was Irina Khmylnikova, 46.

In 2019 she traveled to Vietnam, promptly fell in love with the country, and decided to settle down in coastal town Nha Trang. With experience in doing business back home, she set up a small travel agency to sell tours to Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian tourists.

But with national borders closing due to the Covid-19 outbreak since late March last year, her business ground to a halt.

In order to make a living, Irina came up with the idea of selling frosted cakes in Saigon. She bought an assortment of cream cakes in flavors such as cheese, honey and chocolate from a bakery in Nha Trang and sold them at VND25,000 ($1.1) apiece.

She has a styrofoam box strapped to her neck with ice, cakes and plastic spoons inside. In the beginning she was hawking around Tan Dinh Market. But now she has a motorbike and so also goes to Phu Nhuan Market in Phu Nhuan District and Ben Thanh and Dan Sinh markets in District 1. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. she stops outside nearby schools.

Saigon. foreigners, pandemic

Irina Khmylnikova (left) sells cakes outside Tan Dinh Market in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngan.

Irina only knows Belarusian, Russian and a little English, and so mainly uses gesticulations when interacting with customers. She is currently learning English and wants to learn Vietnamese too. Recently a customer gifted her a Russian-Vietnamese dictionary.

"I like vending and chatting with locals. Kids test their English skills with me while their moms enthusiastically listen to family anecdotes."

The constant smile on her face ensured that Irina was quickly accepted by locals and other vendors. "Vietnamese are very kind and buy my cakes to help me. For that I am grateful," she said.

Some customers even offer to treat her to food and drinks, regularly pay her a visit and help promote her business. One time a customer bought 30 cakes for a birthday and another time a woman bought her entire stock, she recalled.

But it is not always easy. On quiet days she stops earlier and returns home. Though the job is physically demanding since she has to walk in hot weather with a heavy box hanging from her neck, Irina insists she will continue.

"It is not a bad job. From this vending gig, I understand the country from the inside, which is not an experience every Russian or Belarussian living in Vietnam gets."

But it does not mean all anxiety about her future has dissipated. "If things return to normal, my life will be easier. If not, learning Vietnamese it is," she says with a chuckle.

Irina does not want to return to Belarus since she now sees Vietnam as home.

Most people who have interacted with her only have good things to say about her friendliness, polite behavior and even beauty and youthful appearance.

Mai, a vendor at Tan Dinh Market, said: "Her cakes are delicious, not too sweet and with a distinct taste."

On Sundays Irina takes a break after a week of hard work and unwinds by traveling and exploring. She often visits pagodas and temples in the city.

Whenever she passes a new pagoda on her way to work, she notes its address down to visit at her earliest convenience. "I like visiting pagodas because they are so peaceful and tranquil."

Saigon. foreigners, pandemic

Irina at the Ke Ga Lighthouse in Phan Thiet Town. Photo courtesy of Irina.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Nha Trang: beaches are just one of its attractions

Hon Chong in Nha Trang is a complex of rocks stacked together and the surrounding scenery is a tourist attraction on its own. It stands 3 km northeast of the central town’s center.… Read more »

Top 10 Places To Visit In Vietnam By Lonely Planet

Halong Bay Cruise on Ha Long Bay. @internet Halong Bay’s stunning combination of karst limestone peaks and sheltered, shimmering seas is one of Vietnam’s top tourist draws, but with more than 2000 different… Read more »

10 top places to visit in Vietnam by Lonely Planet

Halong Bay Cruise on Ha Long Bay. @internet Halong Bay’s stunning combination of karst limestone peaks and sheltered, shimmering seas is one of Vietnam’s top tourist draws, but with more than 2000 different… Read more »

Pedestrian street to be piloted at Ninh Kieu Wharf

A pedestrian street will be piloted at Ninh Kieu Wharf in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho. The plan was approved by Nguyen Ngoc Anh, vice chairman of Ninh Kieu District People’s… Read more »

Central region in dire need of tourism revival

An Bàng beach in Hội An city was one of the most popular sites for foreign visitors before COVID-19. VNS Photo Công Thành Hoài Nam After years of successful operations in Hội An,… Read more »

Lost in heaven scene in the waterfall of Hang En

Although ranked in the top of the most beautiful waterfalls in Asia, K50 waterfall (or Hang En waterfall) is not regularly visited as it is hidden deep in the forest. However, its stunning… Read more »

Stunning one-of-a-kind roads across Vietnam that become tourist’s attraction

Vietnam’s longest brocade road Photo: Zingnews The 1,700 m long road is hand-painted by hundreds of locals in Ha Giang’s Bac Me district and decorated with the brocade pattern which is inherently a… Read more »

Saigon baker 'ensnares' foodies with animalistic bread

Each morning and afternoon for the past year, 37-year-old baker Phan Thanh Phuoc has sold bread shaped like crocodiles, crabs, frogs, and turtles in an alley off 123 Ho Hoc Lam Street, Binh… Read more »

Quang Binh to launch a series of new tourism products

Son Doong Cave NDO – Visitors will have the opportunity to experience some new tourism products, in the second quarter of 2021, according to the Quang Binh provincial Department of Tourism. Of which,… Read more »

First Teddy Bear Museum to be inaugurated this month

A Teddy Bear Museum, the first of its kind in Vietnam, is set to be put into operation on April 21 at the Phu Quoc United Center in Phu Quoc island city. This… Read more »

Unique Bat Trang Ceramic Museum

Although not yet officially put into operation, the museum attracts many young people. NDO – Built with inspiration from the curves of pottery wheels, the Bat Trang Pottery Museum is becoming a new… Read more »

Ba Ria-Vung Tau promotes tourism on BBC Global News

Ba Ria-Vung Tau promotes tourism on BBC Global News NDO – A 30-second video featuring the beauty of Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province is being screened daily on BBC World News’s Asia-Pacific… Read more »

Government guaranteed debt accounts for 12% of public debt

The Ministry of Finance has just reported to the Government on a draft SOE restructuring project for the period 2021-2025, including an assessment of the content of Government guarantee for SOE loans. Government… Read more »

Ho Chi Minh City is piloting public bicycles

Chief of Office of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Ha Phuoc Thang has just signed a written notice of conclusion of the Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City… Read more »

Extraodrinary must-try dishes in Son La that impress tourists

Fermented buffalo skin Photo: Khamphadisan Buffalo skin is thick and tough. It must be well prepared through many procedures to become a delicious treat. The spices used to make delicious fermented buffalo skin… Read more »

Trial progress of two Covid-19 vaccines in Vietnam

Associate Professor, Dr. Vu Dinh Them, Director of the Center for Clinical Trial, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said that 6 people who injected the second dose of Covivac were monitored 4… Read more »

Salt harvest hits HCMC's solo island commune

Located six kilometers from the center of Thanh An island commune in Can Gio District, Thieng Lieng Hamlet has 211 households of nearly 1,000 members. This is one of three hamlets here that… Read more »

The old man guarding Hanoi's last ancient gate for 20 years

At the age of 74, Mr. Ta Van Nhan has taken care of Quan Chuong Gate for over two decades, as a way to help preserve the historical and cultural relic of the… Read more »

South to begin this year's rainy season earlier than annual

According to Deputy Head of the Southern Region Hydro-Meteorological Station Office Mr. Le Dinh Quyet, the rainy season in the Southern region and Ho Chi Minh City usually starts during May 10-15. However,… Read more »

Top 8 famous French colonial architecture sites in Hanoi

Although the French colonial period in Vietnam came to an end more than half of a century ago (1884 – 1954), it is obvious that much of the French arts and deco style… Read more »

The charming beauty of Ha Long City through lens of photography passion

Photo: Vnexpress The above photo is a 28-meter-high clock tower, located at the intersection of major roads such as Tran Hung Dao, Le Thanh Tong, and April 25. The external material is yellow… Read more »

Ha Long gets marked by architectural, natural highlights

The 28-m high clock tower in Bach Dang Ward at the intersection of major streets like Tran Hung Dao and Le Thanh Tong, stands out with its yellow tempered glass. This renovation of… Read more »

Quang Binh caves get surreally real under photographic light

Early last month, HCMC-based Trung joined a group on a two-day tour to explore the two caves that are part of the cave system in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.… Read more »

Da Nang ready to welcome international travelers with vaccine passports

Local authorities have also chosen a variety of tourist destinations within Da Nang that can run suitable tours. Photo: Bao Da Nang Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of the central city’s Department of… Read more »

Two-century-old communal house in Can Tho

Binh Thuy communal house or Long Tuyen temple was originally constructed from wood and leaves. With two restorations, the latest in 1909, it is one of the most aged communal houses in Vietnam’s… Read more »

Disbursement of public investment capital of most ministries and central agencies reached less than 10%

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the disbursement rate of public investment capital of most ministries, central and local agencies is below 10%. Disbursement of public investment capital of most ministries… Read more »

The Ministry of Transport agreed to soon invest in An Phu intersection, Thu Duc city

The an Phu intersection project in Thu Duc city has just been agreed by the Ministry of Transport on the need to soon be invested in construction. The project has been assigned investment… Read more »

Binh Thuan works to promote itself as a safe, friendly and attractive destination

Binh Thuan works to promote itself as a safe, friendly and attractive destination. (Photo: VNA) NDO – The south-central coastal province of Binh Thuan has built a plan to stimulate local tourism in… Read more »

Vietnam has eight new ports, bringing the total to 286 ports

According to the newly announced port list, Vietnam’s seaport system currently has a total of 286 ports. Some areas under seaports have a large number of ports such as Hai Phong with 50… Read more »

Hanoi dormitory cafe harks back to bygone subsidy era

The Zum Coffee shop is located on the first floor of an old dormitory in a small alley at 110 C6 Vu Ngoc Phan Street, Dong Da District. The outside of the shop… Read more »

Life taps a different beat on HCMC's solo island commune

An drone shot of Thanh An. It is one of six communes in Can Gio District, about 46 km southeast of HCMC’s center. The island commune’s total area of more than 13,000 hectares… Read more »

Starfish pay with their lives for a few photo-ops on Phu Quoc island

The expressions of outrage followed after a woman from Hanoi took photographs of dead, dry starfish in Rach Vem Village in Phu Quoc and shared them with a travel group on Facebook. The… Read more »

99-year-old Nguyen Dynasty pillow maker

Born into a family of royal origin, Cong Ton Nu Tri Hue of Huong Tra District in Hue, central Vietnam is one of the few people still able to make the Vietnamese royal… Read more »

Australian national broadcaster to air series on Vietnamese cuisine

Hosted by Vietnamese Australian chef Luke Nguyen, the show will run at 8:30 p.m. every Sunday, featuring a culinary journey from southern Vietnam through Mekong Delta to the northern region and Hoi An,… Read more »

Hanoi residence of Vietnam's last king Bao Dai

According to National Archives Center No.1, this is the Didelot residence, home of French baron Pierre Didelot and his wife Marie-Agnes Nguyen Huu Hao, biological sister of Queen Nam Phuong, wife of Bao… Read more »

Hoi An bursts with weekend visitors after Covid-19 contained

During weekends, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m, many streets of the central town are crowded with groups of visitors. On average, Hoi An attracts more than 1,000 visitors over weekends, three times… Read more »

Dragon Capital leader: Infrastructure investment is the driving force in coming time, real estate and banks will benefit

Mr. Le Anh Tuan said that infrastructure investment is the driving force for growth in the next 5 to 10 years. The era of investment in infrastructure, especially roads At the webinar “DCVFM’s… Read more »

IMF: Vietnam’s economy could grow by 6.5% this year

According to the report “World economic outlook” has just been announced, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that Vietnam’s economic growth will still reach 6.5% this year and reach 7.2 % next year… Read more »

Imported sugar crushed domestic sugar

After Vietnam joined trade agreements, especially the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), the import and export tax on sugar from ASEAN countries to Vietnam has decreased on average from 85% to 5%.… Read more »

Ba Ria-Vung Tau tourism enjoys BBC boost

The broadcast follows a tourism ad deal signed by the southern province’s tourism department and Global Book Corporation, an official media representative of BBC World News. Under the agreement, a 30-second video featuring… Read more »

By end of first quarter, credit growth of the whole economy reached 2.93%

The Credit Department for economic sectors, the State Bank said that by the end of March 31, 2021, credit for the whole economy increased by 2.93%, much higher than the 1.3% increase in… Read more »

The Ministry of Transport: Not taking into account price of air tickets

In recent days, the story of the ceiling price, the price of air ticket floor is being concerned by the public when Vietnam Airlines has reported to the Vietnam Aviation Administration to consider… Read more »

Settlement of ground problems for key transport infrastructure projects

Nghe An province is focusing on directing the compensation, support and resettlement, promptly dealing with problems related to the ground clearance of key transport infrastructure projects in the area to ensure progress and… Read more »

Support packages need to be at the right place and time

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many economic activities to stall, causing the State budget revenue to decline, while the need to spend on prevention and overcoming of the epidemic increased. Monetary policy must balance… Read more »

Quang Ngai pulls plug on proposed global geopark

After spending VND20 billion ($870,000) on surveys and research since 2015, Quang Ngai Province wants to end the project since the proposed geopark’s socio-economic benefits are “unclear.” “After reviewing the project, the People’s… Read more »

Underground stream discovered in Quang Tri cave

In 2020, at Tria Village, a local resident discovered a new cave in North Huong Hoa Nature Reserve, according to staff member Ho Van Phan. The cave lies about 30 minutes by foot… Read more »

Credit in Hanoi increased by 0.7% in the first quarter

Hanoi Statistical Office has just released a report on the socio-economic situation in the first quarter, including the bank credit indicator. According to the Hanoi Bureau of Statistics, credit institutions in the area… Read more »

‘End’ the progress of reviewing portfolio of aviation infrastructure assets managed by ACV

ACV has just been requested by the Ministry of Transport to urgently review the list of aviation infrastructure assets invested by the State. According to ACV, the historical cost of total assets at… Read more »

FAO: Global food prices rose for the 10th consecutive month

Source: world-grain.com The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced on April 8 that global food prices rose in March 2021, marking the 10th consecutive monthly increase, with the prices of vegetable… Read more »

Activate capital for low growth industry

Accordingly, the post-translation support capital flow is recommended by experts to focus on businesses that really need it, especially small and micro enterprises. Growth in revenue and profit after tax by industry. Recovery… Read more »