Monday, May 10, 2010

First Night in an Akha Village

On the first night of my hill tribe tour, I stayed at the family home of Tee, the man from the Akha tribe who was taking me around. His village of Kong pa Kam (meaning “hot spring”) was located about 40 km south of Chiang Rai. About 98 families (Akha hill tribe) lived in the village. Tee’s parents, brother, and the brother’s family lived in the house. The front of the house looked more finished and modern (even had a hot shower, computer and TV). The kitchen was dark, made of cement, and very simple. Cooking was mainly over a fire with ashes. Several women helped prepare the meal, which included some greens, rice, fish, bamboo shoots, fresh chili peppers, mangoes, watermelon, ground dried soybeans with chilies, and pork soup with greens. Eating was done with chopsticks; I’m not sure what I feel more awkward with – eating with my fingers (India) or with chopsticks (Thailand). Later we had tea over a campfire, whose heat source came partly from bamboo pieces. The fire felt rather nice in the cool evening as we sat on low stools whose seats were woven out of bamboo strips by Tee’s father. In the open-air bamboo structure right next to the fire, one could see the large stack of woven chicken egg-laying baskets Tee’s father was making for a large order. Only when it got too dark did Tee’s father stop cutting and preparing bamboo strips that would be used for more baskets.

On the farm they had many chickens (the roosters crowed incessantly, which was particularly not welcomed in the wee hours of the morning). A large bamboo open-air shed was ready for several pigs, but none were in the pens at the moment. Various crops were grown. Tee pointed out the grapes (for eating) fields in the distance. In a simple shed there was a tractor and a truck.

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