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'Day of Pho' offers fresh air, good meals to COVID-19 frontliners in Ho Chi Minh City

Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 11:16 GMT+7
'Day of Pho' offers fresh air, good meals to COVID-19 frontliners in Ho Chi Minh City
Medical workers who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19 enjoy pho at Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Tuoi Tre (Youth)newspaper collaborated with Vietnamese tour operator Saigontourist to offer 5,000 bowls of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup made of beef or chicken broth, to COVID-19 medical workers staying at the group’s 24 hotels in Ho Chi Minh City from October 13 to 15.

The medical workers were sent from other provinces to assist the southern metropolis which has been hit hard since the beginning of the fourth virus wave on April 27.

Many enjoyed the soup which was cooked and served on the rooftop of the Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 while those who could not come to receive their portions in person received deliveries to their hotels.

“We have to enjoy this moment as we could only have quick meals during the past month in Ho Chi Minh City,” Dr. Vi Thi Ngoc Anh from the north-central province of Nghe An, said while looking at nearby Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street.

“The pho tastes really good.

“I’m touched as we were taken care of.

“This bowl of northern-style pho reminds me a lot of my hometown."

Dr. Anh was one of hundreds of medical workers from 22 reinforcement delegations who were served fresh air and good food at the Rex Hotel Saigon on Thursday night.

“We only concentrated on our missions since we arrived and had no time to go around and explore the city,” the 28-year-old doctor said.

“The only moments we could get to see the city were when we traveled from our hotels to hospitals.”

Cao Kim Thoa (right) and Nguyen Hoang Do, nurses at the COVID-19 Resuscitation Hospital in Thu Duc City chat together while enjoying pho at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Cao Kim Thoa (right) and Nguyen Hoang Do, nurses at the COVID-19 Resuscitation Hospital in Thu Duc City, chat together while enjoying 'pho' at Rex Hotel Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Thai Thi Tu Uyen, a nurse from the central province of Nghe An who was sent to work at the COVID-19 field hospitals No.13 in Binh Chanh District, enjoys a bowl of pho at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Thai Thi Tu Uyen, a nurse from the north-central province of Nghe An who was sent to work at COVID-19 field hospital No. 13 in Binh Chanh District, enjoys a bowl of 'pho' at Rex Hotel Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A member from the Nghe An delegation, Dr. Bui Thanh Tinh, shared Anh’s happiness of seeing the beauty of Ho Chi Minh City at night.

“We were in contact with COVID-19 patients every day so we have to ensure the safety of us and people around,” she said.

“I’ve never gone out for a walk because of that, so enjoying pho while seeing the cityscape like this makes me really happy.”

Meanwhile, Nguyen Duy Bich from the E Hospital in Hanoi appreciates the chance to enjoy fresh air after days of intense working.

“It’s such a meaningful event by Tuoi Tre and Saigontourist Group!” he said.

“All of us from Hanoi miss pho a lot, but what we love the most is that we have a space to breathe clean air.”

Medical workers who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19 enjoy pho at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Medical workers who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19 enjoy 'pho' at Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

‘Together we will overcome toughness’

Despite having experience in cooking for large parties, To Van Son, chef at Cung Dinh Restaurant at Rex Hotel Saigon, who was in charge of the pho, could not stop himself from worrying about this special event.

“I was so nervous when I learned I would cook for the medical doctors who are helping Ho Chi Minh City, which means I somehow represent the city to express our appreciation,” Son told Tuoi Tre.

“Fortunately, we have received positive feedback.”

Since he was assigned the task, Son had spent time on researching to cook pho in different regional styles in order to satisfy all of his diners.

The broth was cooked for over ten hours with beef bones and traditional spices.

Chefs are preparing pho to serve medical workers, who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19, at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Chefs are preparing 'pho' to serve medical workers who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19 at Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Chefs are preparing pho to serve medical workers, who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19, at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Chefs are preparing 'pho' to serve medical workers who were sent from other provinces to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19 at Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Pham Huy Binh, chairman of the board of directors of Saigontourist Group, said the organizers strongly believed that the 5,000 bowls of pho would not only be a good memory and appreciation from the southern city but also a message to people that together we would overcome toughness.

“During nearly the past four months, 24 hotels in our system were mobilized to serve the frontline medical staff from accommodations to travel services,” he said.

“These movements have created a momentum for Saigontourist to quickly get back to the ‘new normal.'

“We still have to work hard because people are still uneasy about travel right now but many medical workers said they loved the people and beautiful scenery of Ho Chi Minh City and wanted to come back, so they may be our first tourists,” Binh expressed his faith in the recovery of the city’s tourism.

Meanwhile, Le The Chu, Tuoi Tre's editor-in-chief, said the pho served from October 13 to 15 continued an effort to show Ho Chi Minh City’s gratitude to the frontline medical workers in the fight against COVID-19.

Earlier in September, the newspaper also launched an event called 'Xe Pho Yeu Thuong' (Loving Rides of Pho) to boost the spirits of those battling COVID-19 head-on at hospitals in the city.

The two events were part of this year’s Day of Pho, an annual event launched by the newspaper to celebrate the country’s signature dish.

“When the pandemic is over, the feeling left in our hearts will not only be loss and suffering but also how people in the whole country joined hands to help Ho Chi Minh City combat COVID-19,” Chu remarked.

A medical worker reads Tuoi Tre Newspaper while waiting for his pho at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A medical worker reads a Tuoi Tre copy while waiting for his 'pho' at Rex Hotel Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 13, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Restaurant staff serve pho for medical workers, who were sent from the northern province of Ha Nam to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the fight against COVID-19, at Rex Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Restaurant staff serve 'pho' to medical workers who were sent from the northern province of Ha Nam to assist Ho Chi Minh City in the combat against COVID-19 at Rex Hotel Saigon in District 1 on October 14, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

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