When I moved to Ho Chi Minh City seven years ago, I knew nothing about this place. Since then, two of the surprises I’ve learned about Vietnamese people are that they do great street food and they’re very entrepreneurial. A great example of both can be found in the unmarked vans parked around the city.
These mobile vendors are all over town, stocked with sodas, beer, candy, snacks, raincoats and other miscellaneous supplies. The owners also cook up quick meals like fried noodles and set out little plastic stools on the side of the street for their customers. They can go from driving to open for business in a couple of minutes, and they tend to have their regular spots. This particular van was parked right outside a neighborhood playground.
After running around the park with my son, I stopped by this van for some mobile phone credit. While I was there, a taxi driver was waiting for his light dinner and another guy was drinking glasses of iced beers on the plastic furniture. My business here was finished in about 2 minutes, and I left with $3 worth of phone credit and a couple pictures. In other parts of the world, unmarked vans parked by playgrounds may be trouble, but in Vietnam it’s just a one stop convenience stand.