Hill tribe villages of northern Thailand – Black Lahu and Palong

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Things to do


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January, 2019

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From our hotel in northern Thailand, the Angkhang Mountain Resort, we visited hill tribe villages.

Khob Dong, is the home of the Black Lahu tribe. Wooden market stalls were in the process of being set up at the entrance to the village and we stopped at a rickety, bamboo viewpoint to look over the surrounding mountains and trees.

We walked through the village on a concrete path with dogs and chickens roaming freely around. The wooden houses are built on stilts and most had a tree trunk with steps cut out to get up to it. An elderly man sitting on his veranda asked us in. As we entered, we just managed to spot his equally elderly wife shimmying quickly down a bamboo pole from a second storey before it was pushed back up. Inside I was shown a small blue plastic stool, about 6 inches off the ground, whilst Roy had to sit on the rattan floor mat.

We sat around the fire where a large cauldron bubbled away: the contents destined for the pigs kept behind the house. Tobacco leaves were being dried above the fire and the lady of this house was rolling a few leaves. We learned how they grow organic strawberries which are sold to the Royal Agricultural Station. A shallow basket was brought out of bracelets woven from coloured grasses and as they were only 5 Baht each, I chose 4 in return for the equivalent of 50p.

This village was on a hill and the houses were stepped over about 5 levels. On our way down, we spotted a circular structure with high walls which was to be used for some kind of celebration or festival.

We continued, and stopped at another house, where a lady sat embroidering a piece of material destined for an outfit for the celebration. Here I had to sit in a similarly low wooden stool and when I got down in a rather inelegant fashion, the husband was most amused. Fortunately, he was not around when I had to be helped up. Once again, the woven bracelets were brought out and we bought another 4. As we left the village, we noticed the first lady washing clothes using her feet at a nearby outdoor tap.

Next stop was the Palong village of Nor Lae set up as recently as 1984. This village is only 1km to the border with Myanmar which we could see in the distance with the Myanmar flag clearly visible. Stalls selling a variety of goods lined the roadside and we walked along and amidst all the weavings, clothes and scarves, I spotted jewellery and a number of rather nice silver and black onyx bracelets which were 100 Baht/£2.20 and after trying on a few, I settled on one.

The majority of stall holders were ladies dressed in long red skirts, with embroidered tops and turbans on their heads and all had red teeth from chewing betel nut. Most of the stalls sold the same, and at the end of the village, we tasted sticky rice being cooked in bamboo over coals before we left.

Helen Jackson

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