The cheerful cowboy of Saigon

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The cheerful cowboy of Saigon

The 52-year-old man leads a simple life away from the urban glamor.

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Over the past five years, Vu Duc Toi has been tending his cattle on this field in District 2, against the backdrop of high-rise buildings in the city downtown.

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He buys cheap, skinny buffalo in Cambodia and resells them to earn profits of dozens of million dong every six months.

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Grass and water are aplenty here for the cattle.

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Toi usually just leaves the buffalo to roam and graze freely. Sometimes he will feed them.

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Toi also picks scrap metal around nearby construction sites.

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He always keeps an ice bucket to go through the Saigon heat. He has a phone but it’s usually dead and he does not mind. He also owns a motorbike to ride home in the neighboring Binh Duong Province once in a while.

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Toi catches fish in a pond and also sells some.

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Toi burns a bonfire every night to keep him and the cattle warm. He leaves them to sleep outdoor and they have never been stolen.

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He plays with a young buffalo.

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Toi shares dinner money with Bay, a guard at a construction site. Nearly all workers in the area know him.

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He sleeps inside a sewer pipe, burning incense sticks to keep mosquitoes away. “I had malaria once, other than that, I’m pretty well.”

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“My family has been asking me to stop this nomadic life and come home. But I am still strong enough to work, and I feel comfortable living this way,” Toi said. He has four children and three of them are married.

Photos by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

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