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Sweet potatoes, hard work: keys to a long life

Update: February, 01/2015 - 16:44

Two Vietnamese sisters, Dinh Thi Xa, 102, and Dinh Thi Long, 94, have been recognised as Viet Nam's oldest sisters by the Viet Nam Book of Records (Vietkings).

The certificate was presented to them at their homes in Dong Nai Province's Bien Hoa City.

The women have seven other siblings; three others are all over 90 years old. Their two sisters, Dinh Thi Ti (104) and Dinh Thi Nhu (100), and brother Dinh Van Trong (92), live in the US.

The two women attribute their longevity to their children's and grandchildren's loving care, along with a healthy and moderate lifestyle and reasonable diet.

"I have lived a hard life, and I also ate sweet potatoes to allay my hunger," Long says.

In fact, the two sisters often jokingly refer to sweet potato as "Vietnamese ginseng", saying it helps them maintain their physical and mental fitness as well as ginseng.

Long still helps her daughter sell banh chung (square glutinous rice cakes) to earn money.

She and Xa grew up in a poor family in Hai Duong Province. In order to earn a living, the children had to collect crabs and snails and work for others.

When Long married, she and her husband worked hard but still could not earn enough to feed their nine children.

"We ate the sweet potatoes and occasionally, we caught crabs, snails and fish to improve our meals."

"If the children caught a cold or fever, I picked rau ma (pennywort) and nho noi (dyer's weed) and ground them up for a drink."

In 1985, they moved to Trang Dai Ward in Bien Hoa City. Considered a good place to settle, she called on other siblings to help them. In three months, they built seven houses to welcome others in the family.

As a result, the living condition of the family in the new land gradually improved.

"Our longevity comes from hard work and walking a lot," Long said. "It could also be because we take care of our descendants, too."

Southern commune launches human-powered cable cars

"Rope bridges are uncomfortable and unsafe. Building a bridge by wood is too expensive and they are easy to fall into disrepair. So, I thought of these 'cable cars'," says Tran Van Ven of An Phu District's Phu Huu Commune in An Giang Province.

Though Ven calls his invention a "cable car", it uses mostly human power to operate. It consists of a stable 12-mm diameter cable and a small 8-mm diameter cable.

The one square-metre car is connected to cables by three pulleys. Somone who wants to cross the canal must pull a rope which connects the two end pillars.

Besides carrying people, it can be used to carry agricultural products and materials.

At a cost of VND3 million, four cable cars have been erected along the Bay Xa canal.

Residents love the cars' ease of use, and say they are simple to install, repair and maintain.

"It's difficult to put cau khi on the Bay Xa canal due to the poor banks, and boats carrying rice are too big," says resident Truong Van Khoi. "The other bank has only a few households; most people go to that bank to grow rice. So it's not necessary to erect a wooden bridge. The cable car frees up space on the canal for boats."

The inventor Ven says: "I don't think of it as my creation. I did it just to ease the field work of the residents." — VNS

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