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Elderly Somtam Vendor Struggles to Survive in Chiang Mai

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The story of an elderly somtam (Papaya Salad) vendor in Chiang Mai who is struggling to stay alive has started trending on Social Media. The 59 year old vendor lives in a tiny rental room on Chang Klan.

She has been pushing her trolley out to ply her tasty goods in Chiang Mai for years. However, Covid-19 has just about destroyed her little business. The elderly woman is no longer able to pay for her much needed medication, her room and now even her food.

A regular client came visit her at her room and saw her living conditions and shared it on social media.

CityNews went to visit Ms. Surangkana Janyiam, aka Aunti Su, 59, at her little room in Chang Klan, Chiang Rai. Her room was barely big enough to sleep in let alone live in. The reporters found the elderly woman to be living in terrible conditions.

Also having lost her leg in an accident eight years ago. Auntie Su struggles to walk the two to three kilometres a day to sell her somtam. She has been living 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 has been selling somtam ever since.

The elderly vendor used to be able to sell between Bt200-300 worth of Somtum a day which was just about enough to sustain her. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, she is lucky to sell dishes of somtam a day. Most days selling nothing at all.

Auntie Su says that in spite of her bad sales, she still goes out to Chiang Mai Gate every day. She told CityNews she considers it good exercise.

When asked what people can do to help, she said 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 has her rent in arias and she owes 6,000 baht to the landlord. While her landlord has been very understanding, her meager earnings aren’t nearly enough to cover rent.

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

If you wish to visit Auntie Su, support her by ordering her somtam if your in Chiang Mai. You can visit her at Rakaeng Road, Chang Klan Road (opposite Cosmo Computer Shop).

CityNews in Chiang Mai also reports you can donate to the account listed in the image below:

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