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Bama - 'Long Life Village' in Guangxi

Posted Mar 22 2013 2:47am

Embraced by the continuous karst limestone mountains, Bama is located in Hechi prefecture in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Bama is said to have the secret to long life, a place where residents work the fields until the age of 100. So many tourists are attracted to have China tours.

Walking along the bank of the Panyang River which flows through the Bama County, at the entrance of Pingan village, groups of tourists can be found at the 109-year-old Huangma Songmou's home.

"I'm 109 years old. When I was young, I usually did a lot of works in the fields. But now I just do some easy housework everyday because too much work will make me feel a little bit dizzy. If the house is dirty I sweep it. But I have to do the cleaning secretly; otherwise, my son will get angry."

One of the reasons for her longevity may be the fact that she spends most of her day sitting in a chair or sleeping. But her vitality is clearly visible.

Her life has been so full that she can't even remember how many family members she has.

"I have many, but I can't remember how many because even my grandsons have many sons."

Living with Huangma Songmou, her 74 year-old son, Huang Songmou, runs a restaurant for tourists, where he often regales them with stories of his mother's earlier life.

"In my mother's nineties, she could still work in the fields and do housework like feeding the pigs, cooking rice and picking crops. But now we can not allow her to do these things any longer, she needs rest."

Huang says that experts came to Pingan village decades ago to praise their longevity, claiming that this is because of high-intensity magnetic fields, fresh air and the good water.

In Bama, villagers prepare coffins when their seniors reach 60. Huang cleared his storage room to find the one he prepared for his mother.

"This is the third one because the other two coffins rotted. And in Pingan, some villagers wait to perform this tradition until their elders are 70 or 80."

As Bama's longevity has been popularized through the internet and TV, it has become a hot new spot for China's senior citizens in search of a quiet place to retire.

After 3 months in Bama last year, the 66 years-old visitor Zhu Baodi from Baoji, Shannxi province, claims that Bama's cured her chronic disease.

"With 3 months of relaxation in Bama last year, I felt good and came here again. There is fresh air and good water, and the villagers are also very nice. Migrant old people like to gather in front of Baimo Cave to breathe in the fresh air. I eat special vegetables produced only here in Bama, like steamed pumpkin seeds and huoma soup."

What is the key to Bama's longevity? Huang Fuji, a 73-year-old former local primary school head has his own opinion.

"In the year 2000, the fifth national census gave statistics that we had 515 villagers in 90 households here, and 7 villagers were over 100. These villagers all worked in the fields with the adults since they were children. They had bare feet when they climbed mountains and went through caves and forests, which helped them keep better contact with the earth. After a day's work in the fields, they usually jumped into the river to swim and catch fish. When not busy, they would gather in the trees to tell stories and sing songs. They were really happy."

Besides the element of the hard work, Huang adds that an optimistic attitude and a diet with no sugar, cigarettes or wine is necessary for longevity.

Huang mentions that over 1,000 visitors come there every day, and he was worries that so many visitors will interrupt their rest.

The villagers of Pingan share this sentiment, but being a tourist trap has increased their income. If they want to have better development, some bad effects like slight pollution and interruption of their peaceful life is still acceptable.

If you want to know more about this county, you can take part in AFFORDABLE China travel packages to learn more.

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