article selected from
Travel China weekly
written by Xu Zhengrong
In Guangxi, southwest China, there is a world-famous longevity hometown--Bama Yao Autonomous County.
- The Bama people's living standards are not high, but they like to help others, and are satisfied with their current situation.
- The main food of the Bama people is yellow corn, beans, potatoes, vegetables and the oil produced from tea-oil trees.
- A life time of hard work has given the people strong muscles and bones, which is another reason for their long life span.
- These centenarians all have good families, they get along well with their family members, and their children treat them well.
According to a survey in 1994, among the county's 230,000 inhabitants, the people aged over 100 numbered 81, with the oldest aged 130. Old people from the age of 90 to 99 numbered 226. Such a record is very rare not only in China, but also in the world. On November 1, 1991, at the Japanese Tokyo World Natural Science Convention, Bama was elected as the fifth hometown of longevity in the world.
The county is located 300 kilometers northwest of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi. Every morning, there are long-distance buses running from Nanning Bus Station and Nanning Passenger Transportation Center to Bama.
Deluxe bus starts from Nanning at 8:00 am and arrives at Bama at 3:00 pm. To visit centenarians, tourists need to contact the county government beforehand.
The Panyang River is the main river of the county. It starts from the foot of the mountains in the western areas, runs through the central area of the county, (a total length of 143 kilometers), and flows finally into the Hongshui River. About 62 percent of the centenarians live along the Panyang River. The river starts from the high mountains and deep valleys, so the water is very clear.
The Panyang River is not a large river, but it is surrounded by green mountains, and looks full of vigor and vitality. The small public buses can stop on demand, so passengers can get on at anytime.
After more than one hour, we got to our destination--Poyue. It took more than 20 minutes to get to the Baimo Cave from there on foot. The Panyang River passes in front of the cave, and meets with the spring water from the cave. Usually few tourists come to visit so they must pay the administrative staff ten yuan RMB to turn on the light if they want to go into the cave. We visited the cave from nine o'clock in the morning to three o'clock in the afternoon. There are large stalagmites and stalactites in the cave, and all kinds of other formations. There is very large hall in the cave capable of holding 10,000 people at one time, with small stone peaks and stream in it. The Baimo Cave has small caves inside (the small cave has smaller caves inside), and some plants are also grow there. The Baimo Cave was called "No. 1 cave in the world" by British explorers.
The Panyang River meets with the spring from the Baimo Cave, flowing through the White Bear Cave, then forming a 2,000-meter-long underground river. The exit of the underground river is the famous scenic spot, Bainiao Cave.
We got on a mini-bus from Bama County to Jiazhuan, then walked over a small bridge on the Panyang River to reach the exit of the Bainiao Cave after a two-kilometer tour. The entrance of the cave is a 50-meter-wide and 15-meter-high triangle. The ticket fee is five yuan RMB. Tourists go along a 50-meter-long and 0.5-meter- wide drifting bridge to the exit of the cave. The cave has a sandy beach. Going ahead, tourists will see various formations. The cave there can hold several hundred people, and visitors can hear the sound of birds. If visitors pay another five yuan RMB, they can take a bamboo raft and drift along the underground river. The 40-meter-wide and 2,500-meter-long river has a depth of 21 meters at the deepest spot. In the cave, tourists also can see swallows, bats, kingfishers and hawks. When the rosy dawn emerges or the sun sets, thousands of birds fly out from the cave, playing and looking for food.
Bama is also called Wangang, meaning hundreds of mountains. Because Bama is surrounded by green mountains, the Panyang River is pollution-free. The main food of the Bama people is yellow corn, beans, potatoes, vegetables and the oil produced from tea-oil trees. These plants and food have many trace elements and more vitamins, carotene, and minteral elements than the plants produced in other places. Probabley that's one of the reasons for people's long lives.
Bama is located in the mountainous area and most of people live among the mountains and valleys. They have to climb mountains or walk for a long time to go shopping, or to get to their fields, and some people's fields are several kilometers away from their houses. They must work hard on their field. A life time of hard work has given the people strong muscles and bones, which is another reason for their long life span. The Bama people's living standards are not high, but they like to help others and are satisfied with their current situation. Centenarians thought that the secret of longevity is to do good deeds, help others, be kind, have confidence, and never give up. These centenarians all have good families, they get along well with their family members, and their children treat them well. Their lives are very happy.