Hill Tribes

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We awoke in Mae Salong very early to catch the morning market, and the view of the sunrise from the local temple.

Mae Salong

The view from the temple
In the bottom right of this photo you can faintly see the village of Mae Salong.

Mae Salong
This woman is wearing her tribe's traditional costume.

Local hill tribe woman
This elderly lady sold me a little charm bracelet, I just couldn't refuse her. Her teeth are blackened from chewing betel nut.

After the market we returned to our little motel room, packed up and shipped out. I'd acquired a map of the local hill tribe village locations from the motel owner, so we decided to venture into a few of these villages on our own. The first village we went to was about 20 mins drive to the middle of nowhere on a rutted clay road. I felt very apprehensive about it. Were we being culturally insensitive just 'popping in' for a visit? Did they loathe or love visitors? Were we dressed appropriately? Dad's usual cherry optimism encouraged me, and we were soon parked up at the first village.

Over the course of the day we visited 3 villages and created some memories that are probably the most vivid of the trip, for me anyway. It was a totally natural experience, nothing contrived or touristy about it at all. We learned a lot by just observing. I'll let the photos explain...

This is a typical hill tribe home. Raised up to allow floodwater to run freely in the monsoon, and powered by a giant solar panel. Solar power has been introduced to a few of the luckier hill tribes as part of the King's Project - dedicated to improving the quality of life for the tribes of Thailand.

Homes are constructed from simple woven patterns. As you can imagine, they're not exactly weather-proof or particularly robust. They tend to be re-built every five or so years.

Upon entering, villages often appeared deserted. But if we stood still for long enough, the locals came out to play... the furry and flea-ridden kind were especially friendly!

These boys were fascinated by my camera with the giant telephoto lens on it. I took a few photos of them, then showed them on the camera which they thought was pretty neat. They proceeded to have a bit more fun and smile for me... so long as they got to see the picture.

We felt like we'd had a privileged insight to the lives of local villagers that tourists seldom see. I can now see why people are inspired to sell all their worldly possessions for a plane ticket, and go to do volunteer work in these places.

Reluctantly we departed Mae Salong that afternoon, bound for Mae Sa - the Northern most point of Thailand.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great update Dani, and your photos are just great as always! J&N

8:25 PM, March 06, 2010  

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