Chiang Rai

Akha Village

I arrived in Chang Rai down the Mae Kok River from Tha Thon. Apae was at the drop off point with a pick-up truck to drop everyone off at guesthouses around the town and also to hand out fliers inviting people to stay in his village. I hung out in Chiang Rai for a couple of days and then gave Apae a call. He picked me up the next day and took me to his village where I stayed for a week. It was a very rewarding experience.

Left: Akha Wedding

It was my very good fortune while I was in the village to witness a local wedding. A pig was procured from a nearby village for the banquet. Every part of the pig was used. The food was delicious though there was one dish which I respectfully declined as it was basically raw pork marinated in chili.

Below: Monks stop for a bath and a shave at Huai Kaew waterfall

Apae's village was at he very end of a dirt road. On the way up we drove through a part of the jungle that was on fire. "Jungle burning" says Apae, a strange situation for me, burning forests generally represent extreme danger but here it's just the traditional swidden agriculture. Apae's tribe are Akha, a tribe with origins somewhere in the region of Tibet. In the vicinity of Apae's village were villages of other tribes including Lisu, Lahu and Yao as well as a couple of Chinese villages. Much of the Chinese population in Northern Thailand derrives from the KMT troops who escaped China during the civil war.

Left: Apae and his wife dressed in traditional Akha garb for the wedding

Much of my time in Apae's village was spent simply relaxing and trying out some of the local produce. I did go on a day trip to the Golden Triangle with Apae and a couple of Japanese who were also staying in the village. The Golden Triangle is basically the point on the Maekong River dividing Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Historically it's an important location in the opium trade. After a week in the village I caught the bus back to Bangkok, stopping in Phitsanulok on the way.

Akha Hill House - Take a vacation in Apae Amor's Akha village and help fund a village education project. Apae is an experienced Tour Guide, winner of the Thailand Tour Guide Award in 2006.