The octogenarian shoemaker in Saigon
At the age of 88, Trinh Ngoc still makes handmade leather shoes everyday. His store in HCMC’s District 3 has served both local and foreign guests for decades.
Ngoc, a native of Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta, left his home province to move to Cambodia when he was 16. He learned to make leather shoes in Cambodia and became an artisan there. Ngoc used to design shoes for Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk and American and French diplomats in Cambodia. As many of Ngoc’s customers were foreigners, he could speak English, French and Chinese fluently.
In 1970, Ngoc returned to Vietnam and chose Saigon as his second chance to start all over again. In 1971, he opened his store in Saigon and found his products selling very well here.
Following the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, Ngoc halted his business for a while to work at a Vietnamese shoe company. Ngoc retired in 1991. However, his strong love for leather shoes has prompted him to reopen his store which is still running now.
Vuong Anh (SGT)
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