Le Minh, a 70-year-old in Ho Chi Minh City, is spreading nostalgia across the southern metropolis with his hand made animal toys crafted from mangrove palm leaves.
Minh began making and selling his leaf toys eight years ago as his declining vision began preventing him from his work as an artist.
Le Minh starts his days at 8:00 am by transforming piles of palm leaves into locusts, peacocks, rabbits, crabs, fish, chickens, birds, deers, horses, and more.
|Le Minh, 70, makes a rabbit from a mangrove palm leaf on in street of Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News|
At 3:00 pm, he loads the toys onto his motorbike and travels throughout the city selling them on street corners.
Minh typically sells about 40 toys each day at VND20,000 (US$0.85) each.
The mangrove palm leaves he uses are brought from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
|Le Minh, 70, makes a locust from mangrove palm leaf on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News|
Each animal toys requires one leave and can last quite long if stored in a cool place.
The mangrove palm leaves will turn from yellow-green to white after they dry out.
|Le Minh transforms piles of palm leaves into locusts, peacocks, rabbits, crabs, fish, chickens, birds, deers, horses, and more. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News|
When Minh first began selling his toys on the street, his children tried to stop him as they worried for his safety. Eventually, however, he won them over.
“I love doing this,” Minh said.
“I told them to let me do this, otherwise I will get sick of staying home and doing nothing.”
|Le Minh, 70, sells animal toys made from mangrove palm leaves on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News|
Tran Thi Thuy My, a resident of Go Vap District, recently bought the leaf toys from Minh and shared that they reminded her of her childhood.
“It’s been years since I saw someone selling these toys in Saigon,” My said.
“I bought them for my kids so that they can learn about my childhood.”
|A child poses with a butterfly from of mangrove palm leaf. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News|