How to live to 100: Centenarians in Vietnam's poorest area prove money doesn't matter

By Nguyen Phuc, Thanh Nien News

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Truong Triem of Quang Tri Province is still healthy at 104. Photo credit: Truong Triem's family 

 
104-year-old Truong Triem always saves the best food in a meal for his wife, 106-year-old Tran Thi Chau.
He often receives money from his children and grandchildren, but he doesn't really care much about it. 
"If he has a big bank note, he will give it to her," said their third child, 60-year-old Truong Ngoc Hiep.
“Maybe loving each other is their only secret for a long life,” Hiep said.
Last year, the couple of Quang Tri Province was recognized by the Vietnam Book of Records as the country's oldest married couple. They have seven children, 21 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
More surprisingly, Quang Tri is home to 166 people who are more than 100 years old, despite the fact that the central province is one of Vietnam’s poorest, with very harsh conditions for living and production. 
Many families here are living well below the poverty line and the province's per capita income is around 30 percent less than the national average. 
Triem and Chau in fact spent most of their life in poverty.
Hiep said his parents used to be so poor that they have never been able to get used to improved living conditions as the multigenerational family gradually became better-off, thanks to hard work.
“They said it is very strange for them,” he said.
Hiep said his father was a buffalo boy who “used to stay on a buffalo’s back more than on the ground,” while his mother was a very hard-working rice farmer.
Hard work has also become a habit for two other centenarians in Quang Tri, 105-year-old Tran Dinh Thang and his brother, 103-year-old Tran Dinh Lien.

Tran Dinh Thang (R), 105 and his brother, 103-year-old Tran Dinh Lien.
The siblings used to carry heavy artilleries for the revolution force in the Vietnam War. 
After the war ended in 1975, the siblings of the coastal district of Vinh Linh worked as fishermen. 
They still don't give up manual labor these days. Thang often cooks while Lien makes handicrafts.
Thang said they have been living in poverty and working hard the whole life.
He even refused his children’s offer to build him a new house, to replace his old, small cottage.
“It’s our longtime treasure. The cottage has witnessed our past living in poverty and is also a place where we grew up,” he said.
Both Thang and Lien said that a happy family with members getting along well is the main secret behind longevity. 
“We three siblings lived with our mother after our father died when we were young. We grew up without a single insulting word among us. Concessions make any difficult issues become easy,” he said.
The siblings said they always remind themselves and their children to maintain a healthy lifestyle, do good things, be happy, and not to wait for a return on a favor. 
“Here's my secret for a long life: compromise and never become angry at anyone,” Lien said.

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