HANOI: Covered from head to toe to keep herself cool, Vu Thi Phuong pushes a trolley of coffee, lime juice and ice around Hanoi in the burning sun.
Thousands of street vendors, mostly women, in Vietnam’s capital have had no choice but to work through a series of heatwaves that have struck the north of the country in recent weeks.
Scientists say global warming is exacerbating adverse weather, and Vietnam is just one of many countries across South and Southeast Asia to have suffered record temperatures in recent weeks.
“Sometimes I just want to faint in the middle of the street. If the weather forecaster says it’s 38 degrees Celsius, the temperature in the road feels even higher,” Phuong said, sweat dripping off her nose.
In early May, Vietnam reported its highest-ever temperature, 44.1 degrees Celsius (111.38 degrees Fahrenheit), prompting a warning from health officials to avoid the heat as much as possible.
As the temperature hit 38 degrees Celsius on Thursday, Hanoi’s old quarter — usually buzzing with motorbikes, tourists and noodle sellers — was calm. But for those like Phuong, whose livelihood is earned on the street, the advice is impossible to follow.
“I rest for about five minutes, then I have to continue,” Phuong said. “It’s not easy pushing this trolley in the heat but I keep trying my best.” At a nearby corner, fruit seller Nguyen Thi Vinh, 60, complained of reduced profits.
“I don’t sell much during hot days like this because people don’t go out,” she said.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2023