The Aur village, home to some 100 members of the Co Tu ethnic minority in central Quang Nam province, is a welcoming village where all households honor their tradition of treating strangers as honored guests.
Located in Tay Giang district, the village is inhabited by 21 households, with a large house for communal activities at its heart. A 16km street built by villagers links the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the village.
The communal house is also where village elders and inhabitants receive their guests, regardless of whose guest they are.
In the warmth of the fire, guests enjoy delicacies: simple foods such as steamed rice, wild vegetable soup, salted pork, rat meat, freshly-caught fish and home-brewed wine, brought over by members of the 21 households.
“We’ve been handed down this tradition and maintained it for several generations. We always treat guests to any dish available. Guests have to enjoy at least a morsel of all the households’ dishes, or we will get upset,” explained village elder A Lang Ren with a heartwarming smile.
A Lang Ot, a villager, said that no one fishes from a nearby spring, as all the fish and frogs in it are used to prepare treats for guests only.
Though quite isolated from the outside world, the village is surprisingly immaculate.
According to Bui Tan Truong, a teacher at a local elementary school, littering is strictly forbidden and violators must sweep the village and surrounding areas as a penalty for doing so.
“Kids here are all clean and neat. No one dares to contaminate the springs that provide water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. They build tents for their livestock some 2km away from the village to minimize risks of disease transmission,” Truong said.
He added that instead of destroying forests like elsewhere, villagers pick mushrooms, herbs, and chop wood sustainably, going to great lengths to protect their natural resources.
“Aur is indeed a happy, prosperous village,” concluded Truong, a city teacher who has volunteered to teach in several remote localities.