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Valley of Longevity

Hoang Thi Xe, 121 years old, with her daughter and great grandchildren.

Comprised of Na Lum and Na Lang Hamlets in Yen Chau District, Son La Province, Muong Lum Valley leads the country in the number of long-lived people, according to the latest statistics released by National Committee for Population, Family and Child Care.

Located 17 km to the East of Yen Chau District centre, Muong Lum Valley finally came in sight after three hours’ passing over hills, rivers and Bach Xanh forest. The atmosphere was overwhelming with pleasant scents of plants, reminding me of what Nguyen Ngoc Luan, Head of Propaganda Board of Yen Chau District, had said: “It is a very beautiful place and there are a lot of interesting things to discover, you’ll soon get enchanted.”

Stretching beyond our eyes was the spectacular rural picture of Muong Lum Valley with winding golden terraced fields highlighted by dark green mountains and the straw-covered paths to the hamlet. With the introduction of an official of the Communal Committee, we met 121-year-old Hoang Thi Xe, who was threading a needle by a cooking fire. She was delighted to show us around the house where she is living with her fifth daughter, Hoang Thi Et, who is 92. “My old age weakens my ears, but my eyesight still allows me to help my children with the housework,” Xe said, pointing to the children playing in the garden, “They are my great grandchildren, the fifth and sixth generations growing up in this house.” Her eyes seemed to brighten with happiness when talking about her descendants and her big family. The life here is very peaceful and simple. In particular, villagers enjoy the pure and wholesome atmosphere and life amidst nature.

We then reached Na Lum Hamlet where stay five persons aged 105 and 110. The old couple of Quang Van Suong, 110, and his wife, Lo Thi Huoi, 105, still do the gardening and lay out the corn to dry in the sun every day. “We don’t have any son but some daughters living far away with their husbands. So we live with a grandson. He works in terraced fields in the day time and won’t be back until sunset,” confided Huoi. “In the hamlet, the couple Ha Van So and Ha Thi Oi are at the same age as us but they have more children,” her husband added. Nothing but favourable climatic and geographical conditions, and above all, humanity, served as the secret of the local longevity.

The same conclusion has been drawn by domestic and international researchers who studied the localities’ method to prolong the expectancy. 

Vietnam Pictorial - (22/09/2005)

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