A Day with the Hill Tribes

Thursday was definitely one of my highlights of Thailand.  We spent the day visiting some of the hill tribes around Chiang Rai.  They live in beautiful villages set amongst the jungle.  Their traditional clothes are saved for festivals, however to lure the tourists to their handicraft stalls some do dress up.

Lady from Yeo Tribe near Chiang Rai

Lady from the Yeo Tribe

I’m a sucker; at every village I visited I felt guilty if I didn’t buy something :oS so I accumulated a number of purses and scarves in exchange for a few dollars and a photo.  I look like a giant in comparison to their petite frames.  An elderly Yao found great delight in pinching my ‘big’ bum and then giggle at the size of it.

Atta and me, the Giant - near Chiang Rai

Atta and the Giant

We did a home stay in Apa village with an Akha tribe.  I spent an hour with a lovely lady called Atta, who was a real character.  She constantly laughed, showing her big gap between her front teeth.  She spoke no English, but we managed to communicate with lots of miming.

Atta from the Akha Tribe near Chiang Rai

Atta from the Akha Tribe

Atta dressed me up in traditional hats (I was a little concerned about lice :oS) and we drunk mint tea from a cup made of bamboo.  Inevitably she showed me all her handy work and I ended up buying more purses.

Turning Tribal

Turning Tribal

Dinner was cooked on a open fire and they really served up a feast for us.  We had al fresco dining on our balcony.

Dinner

Dinner

Our home for the night was a bamboo hut, perched on stilts, on the side of the mountain.  The thatch roof was home to many geckos, a big spider and Gele claimed he even saw a mouse scuttling across one of the beams.

My Hut at Apa Village near Chiang Rai

My Hut

The bed was simply a mat on the floor, with a mozzie net, which made me feel a bit safer from all the beasties.  Especially since just before bed I was attacked by what I think was a horned dung beetle.  I did a very girlie dance as I tried to avoid colliding with it.  Eventually it flew into my bedroom and took residence on my mozzie net.  It refused to move, so I ended up sleeping with it above me all night.

Inside Hut, Apa Village near Chaing Rai

Inside Hut

The whole day was an amazing experience and we met so many lovely people.

Info: Most organised tours with homestays were pretty expensive (2200 baht or more per person) and they also included 3 hours trekking, which this time of year would be very uncomfortable due to the heat or rain.  Instead we hired a guide for the day to drive us around a few villages (also included visiting the White Temple, a Buddha cave, a waterfall and lunch) for 2000 baht; the Apa village home stay cost 300 baht per person (including dinner and breakfast) and we got a local jeep back to Chiang Rai for 500 baht.  Total cost 3100 baht.  We were told there were local mini buses back to Chiang Rai, but this was not the case.  I recommend if you decide to do a similar trip, try and negotiate a car pick-up for the next day.

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