Vietnam's last public letter writer, 'a witness of Saigon'

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Vietnam's last public letter writer, 'a witness of Saigon'

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:02 pm

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A group of foreign tourists and their Vietnamese tour guide talk to Duong Van Ngo, 89, at the Saigon Central Post Office [Valerie Plesch/Al Jazeera]

by Valerie Plesch
22 Mar 2019


"I began to work for the post office when I was only 16, in 1946,"

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - As Ho Chi Minh City's French colonial architecture recedes into the background and the number of shiny skyscrapers grows in the Southeast Asian megacity there is one man who might be the last vestige of Vietnam's colonial past.

Duong Van Ngo is the only remaining public writer and still pens letters from the grand 19th century Saigon Central Post Office in this city of 13 million people, built when Vietnam was still a part of French Indochina.

Ngo has written letters for hundreds of people in Vietnamese, English and French in the past 28 years. There were three other public writers when he joined, but they have since all passed away.

At 8am every morning, he unpacks his black leather bag, placing a magnifying glass and weathered copies of English-Vietnamese dictionaries on his table.Inside the dictionaries, he has scribbled notes marking his own expressions and meanings next to the words.

Kim Liong, 40, from Malaysia, said: "It's like back to the 60s, the olden days. That is how I feel and I love it. If you look at the handwriting, it's beautiful. You can see that he trained a lot."

"He's like a witness of Saigon, the one who got the French education during the French era and then before 1975, the democratic time in Saigon or in South Vietnam," said Pham. "And now, he still appears here in the modern post office. He is the one from the past who still exists here, so it's very special."

Full https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featu ... 56560.html
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