The morning after we wandered the food court in the Chiang Rai market, we visited a village of one of the hill tribes of northern Thailand.
We took a small boat up the Kok river to the water shed at Pa Kaew village where we walked about a mile to the Akha village. Apparently either Gate1 Travel or its representative in Thailand, Diethelm Travel have some sort of an exclusive deal with the village so that no other tourists go there.
During our boat ride we passed a small boat of Thai people on the river.
After landing at the Pa Kaew Village water shed we begin the easy walk to the Akha village. Along the way I saw this lovely vision of a blue digging machine in the midst of a lovely scene. This is one of my prized photos of the trip.
Walking further down the path one of our group spots a large spider along side the path in the greenery. I would estimate that this spider's length, from top to bottom was about 9 inches. Quite beautiful.
A note about cleanliness and insects in Thailand. In general Thailand was exceptionally clear of trash and other rubbish. We were told that school kids are strictly taught from a very young age to clean up after themselves. So we saw virtually no trash in the streets or the markets. This even though we often had to hunt for a garbage can. Perhaps one result of this is that we saw very few insects. Yes there was the occasional roach (I saw perhaps two on the entire trip) and there certainly were ants. But compared to Mexico, for example, we saw very few insects. Aside for the spider above, the only interesting insect we saw was on the deck of the swimming pool at the Chiang Mai hotel:
After a pleasant walk we arrived at the Akha village. One of the guides talked for what seemed like a long time about life in the village. The villagers are not Thai people by descent. Rather their people have much more recently emigrated to northern Thailand to escape persecution in other countries.
All during the time our guide was talking, the villagers were trying to sell the visitors (us) bracelets, necklaces, baskets and other chatchkes. But they would not bargain as would almost any red-blooded Thai merchant. Here a bracelet of polished turquoise stones was 20 baht and no one would sell it for 15.
This was actually part of the agreement between the village and Gate1/Diethelm which helped the villagers make a reasonable profit from the tour visits.
Our tour guide beckoned me over to one of the village dwellings. Children outside the hut were eating.
Inside there were sleeping quarters for men, separate sleeping quarters for women and a kitchen area:
Any romantic co-mingling of husbands and wives (or others) I was told would take place in the forest surrounding the village.
I gave several of the villagers a bit of money (40 or 100 baht) which they were very happy to receive.
Sueann decided she wanted to have a village head dress as a souvenir. Here she is modeling it with the woman from whom she purchased it.
The rectangular aluminum piece on the head dress of the village woman above denotes her status as a village elder. The larger the piece of aluminum, the more "senior" the elder is.
Jeff February 4, 2007
To Next Thailand Trip story
Return to the Thailand Trip main page