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Thursday, June 13, 2024

A village tiptoeing on stilts

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From the crowded Thai Nguyen City in Thai Nguyen Province, tourists only need to travel a short distance to get to a green, peaceful oasis where they are welcomed by smiles, inhale fresh air and enjoy organic food. The oasis is Thai Hai Stilt House Preservation and Ecological Tourism Village boasting traditional practices and cultures of Tay ethnic group.

The village covering 70 hectares is a totality in itself, which encompasses houses, rice fields, lakes and forests. Like a peaceful place adjacent to a busy city, Thai Hai Village is in harmony with nature with beautiful scenery. The winter there is warm while the summer is pleasantly cool.

Yet what is the most special about the village is its residents live in stilt houses built upon the layout of ancient stilt houses in Dinh Hoa historic site. The stilt houses there belong to one of the oldest cultures in Vietnam. Standing in the rustic wooden houses which are half hidden in forests may remind tourists of familiar things in their childhood.

Local residents earn their living by farming. A saying of the Tay ethnic people goes, “Planting rice where there’s water and grow trees on land when water is used up.” Villagers are involved in self-sufficient agriculture: cultivating crops, rear cattle, producing agriculture products, and making herb medicines and traditional wine. All activities are done in close relation with the ecosystem and not harmful to the environment.

Tay ethnic women making herb medicines in Thai Hai Village

The utensils and tools used in production as well as in daily routine such as baskets, wooden trays, large wooden mortars, etc. may remind tourists of the long history of the local culture and people. However, the local life is not resistant to “outside” civilization because it is a happy one. In the village, music is always heard, birds sing all the time, kids romp here and there, and fire in the kitchens is kept round the clock.

It can be said that Thai Hai Village adopts a lifestyle in which villagers share common funds. Marriages, education and jobs of every member are taken care of by the whole community. Kids go to school in the village. If they are able to enroll in a university, the tuition fees are to be covered by the village’s funds.

It seems the village is similar to phalanges by Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, or a social model in a novel by Nikolay Chernyshevsky. The lifestyle of Thai Hai Village conforms to the principle of equality, which means that income is fairly shared among villagers, social issues are solved among themselves and participation of individuals is on a voluntary basis.

By Pham Phuong

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