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Jamie's Global Adventures

Chiang Rai - Life with the hill tribes.

THAILAND | Monday, 29 December 2008 | Views [3330] | Comments [1]

Long Neck Karen Tribe

Long Neck Karen Tribe

Originally we were supposed to spend the week following Christmas volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park (http://www.elephantnaturepark.org). Unfortunately, they were at capacity so we had an extra week to kill in the north of Thailand. Sebastian managed to find a great guesthouse 23 km outside of Chiang Rai, owned and operated by the Akha hill tribe. The Akha were originally from Mongolia and Tibet, migrating to northern Thailand after being forced out of Myanmar. The village consisted of 20 huts with 200 or so residents. Most everyone speaks decent English as the Akha language uses the Roman alphabet. Our bamboo bungalow overlooked the surrounding hills which were covered in lychee orchards and a Chinese-owned tea plantation.


We spent a day hiking through the hills to Huay Keaw falls, a neighboring Lahu hill tribe village, and hot springs at a national park on the Maekok River. We finished our day with an hour long sauna. The hut was made of bamboo and mud and used traditional blood vine in the steam. Probably my favorite site of them all was the solar panels situated throughout the Lahu village. Even in the remote hills of Thailand they have a better understanding of alternative energy sources than most of the US.


Leaving the Akha Hill House - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bxMp3hHeig


We really wanted to see the women of the Long Neck Karen tribe so we decided to visit one of the tourist traps along the road to the Golden Triangle. The “Union Village” as it was called, brought together 5 hill tribes (Akha, Yao, Lahu, Palong, and Long Neck Karen). Each group dressed in their traditional attire, performed a little song and dance then tried to sell their various goods. Obviously the whole setup benefited the tribes (including the entrance fee), but I couldn’t help feel bad for participating. Luckily for me Sebastian managed to get some great pictures. It’s not often you get to see something that’s been immortalized on the pages of National Geographic.


Akha Traditional Song - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTo_-tIdX6w

Lahu Traditional Dance - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b5zdHYw0U8

Tags: akha, hill tribes, lahu, long neck karen, trekking, waterfalls, yao





Sending you lots of love! -Alena

  Alena Jan 2, 2009 9:42 AM

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