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The 62-year-old grandmother’s bakery is always “red on fire”, selling 300 pieces a day

 For many years, the wood stove Mrs. Yen (62 years old) has smoked and cooked hundreds of cakes. For her, having the health to sell cakes and spend money to buy medicine is a great joy.

Making a living with donuts

Tucked away at the end of the street known as the most famous dumpling street in Ho Chi Minh City, the kitchen of Ms. Luong Ngoc Yen (62 years old, living on Ha Ton Quyen Street, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City) lights up regardless of day or night.

The 62-year-old grandmother’s bakery is always “red on fire”, selling 300 pieces a day
Mrs. Yen at the small Ba Trang cake shop, at night (Photo: Anh Thu).

Here, people always see the scene of Mrs. Yen on duty in the small kitchen. At more than 1am, the old woman shoved each stick of wood, even though her eyes couldn’t open. To make a cake is a long process, the day is wrapped, the night is cooked, enough 8 hours to get the finished product.

Ms. Yen said, last year’s Doan Ngo festival she sold about 300 cakes, this year the customers are more stable, so she changed to a large pot. Every day she cooks about 80 cakes, and so on for 5 days straight. Every day, she only rests for 2 hours, the owner of the cake stops when it is past 1-2 o’clock at night and then resumes work at 4 am.

The pot of cakes that cook continuously is still not ready to be sold to customers (Photo: Anh Thu).

Before that, Ms. Yen went to the market to buy ingredients such as bamboo leaves, meat, sticky rice… to prepare the cake package.

There are a few shops around, but most of them use gas stoves for convenience. Only Mrs. Yen’s shop has kept a firewood stove for more than 10 years.

Ms. Yen said: “I also want to change to a gas stove to support the pole, but a gas tank of more than 400,000 VND is not enough.”

10 years ago, she taught herself how to make a semi-baked cake and did not think about her career until now. But after only selling for 2 years, Ms. Yen could no longer wrap the cake herself because of the accident.

That’s why for 7 years, the person who helped her wrap the cakes was Mrs. My, who lived on Ha Ton Quyen Street.

“Because I saw her sick, everyone here loved her. I came here to help in part or part,” Mrs. My said.

It takes skills and dexterity to pack quality cakes (Photo: Anh Thu).

Almost everyone in the village loves Mrs. Yen, from children to the elderly. Every afternoon, little Dinh (14 years old) comes to help the lady sell cakes. The boy said: “She looks sick, but she is very good. That night we came back and in the morning found that she had done everything”.

After wrapping, the cake is placed in a pot of boiled water. The cooking time must be 8 hours and the cake must be turned after 4 hours for the cake to cook evenly. When cooked, the cake is hung high, in a ventilated place to drain.

This year, due to the high price of ingredients, Ms. Yen had to sell each cake for 80,000 VND, higher than in previous years.($1=24,000 VND)

Despite frequent pain, Mr. Nhan still tries to help his sister regardless of day and night (Photo: Anh Thu).

“Must work hard, have money to buy medicine”

Once a fortnight, Ms. Yen is transported by her brother to District 11 Hospital (HCMC) for medical examination. After that, he went back to take care of food and water, and Ms. Yen was walking around the hospital alone with a walking stick to get medicine, then took a motorbike taxi back. At this age, no longer able to earn money, her life depends on her grandchildren and her brother’s meager motorbike taxi rides.

So thanks to the bakery shop, Ms. Yen tried her best to save money to buy medicine.

“Having money to buy medicine is very happy,” Yen confided.

At the age of nearly 70, Mr. Nhan’s hair (her brother Yen’s biological brother) was white. He was always the one doing all the heavy lifting in the house.

“Tell him to be sick, take a break but he refuses, just say he has to work and still have money to take medicine,” Mr. Nham pointed to his sister.

Yen and her brother currently live in a small house left by their parents on Ha Ton Quyen Street, Ho Chi Minh City.

Yen and her brother rely on each other, have something to eat (Photo: Anh Thu).

For Mrs. Yen, the Lunar New Year is also a happy occasion when friends help her pack cakes. But the biggest joy for her is selling all the cakes, saving money to buy medicine.

Photo: Internet (

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