Heartbreaking story of a somtam vendor struggling to survive the pandemic

 | Wed 9 Sep 2020 19:04 ICT

Chiang Mai’s reporters were alerted to a trending story when social media lit up over a heartbreaking story of a somtam vendor who is currently struggling.

This vendor lives in a tiny rental room on Chang Klan and pushes her trolley out to ply her tasty goods. However, covid has just about destroyed her little business and she is no longer able to pay for her much needed medication, her room and now even her food.

CityNews went to visit Surangkana Janyiam, or Aunti Su, 59, at her little room which was barely large enough to sleep in, and found her to be living in terrible conditions. Also having lost a leg in an accident eight years ago, Auntie Su is struggling to walk the two to three kilometres a day to sell her somtam. Today her diet consists of rice mixed with fish sauce.

Auntie Su said that since her accident when she first moved to Chiang Mai from Pitsanulok she has been wearing a prosthetic leg and selling somtam ever since. A regular client of hers came to buy some from her room recently, saw her living conditions and shared it on social media.

She used to be able to sell between 200-300 baht a day which was just about enough to sustain her. However, since the pandemic, she is lucky to sell two mortar-loads of somtam a day, most days selling nothing at all. She says that in spite of her bad sales, she still goes out to Chiang Mai Gate every day as she considers it good exercise.

When asked what people can do to help, she asks anyone who fancies some somtam or anyone in the vicinity of Chiang Mai Gate to please stop by to support her. She promises to use all hygienic safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. She is at her sales location daily from early morning to noon or early afternoon, depending on sales.

Her current problem is her arias in rent, which she owes 6,000 baht to her landlord. While her landlord has been very understanding, her meager earnings which she hands over nearly in full to her landlord is not enough to cover rent going forward.

Auntie Su says that she hates begging for money as she has always been independent and believes in fighting to survive. She would appreciate some support in buying her somtam so that she can take care of herself in life.

If you wish to visit Auntie Su, support her by ordering a somtam or donate, you can visit her at Rakaeng Road, Chang Klan Road (opposite Cosmo Computer Shop).