Our colleague Katinka (Koning Aap - Client Services) joined a very special walking tour during her study trip through the 'Land of Smiles'. Surrounded by beautiful nature, she met a local family from the Karen tribe in northern Thailand. An experience that left a deep impression...
This two-day trek takes you from Chiang Mai, through the jungle and past various mountain tribes such as the Karen and Lahu. You sleep in a village where the locals still live in a very traditional way. You support the local families of the Karen tribe through a unique experience.
Katinka talks about her experience: "The first day we drive to a local market in the village of Mae Malai. That in itself is quite an experience. At the market, your eyes are kept busy as you see all kinds of products that you don’t really see at home. Live fish and turtles but also dried grasshoppers and beetles, among many other things.
We then continue to a waterfall and hot springs. After a short visit, we start walking to our overnight accommodation. The walk is approximately 9 kilometres but because we walk mostly uphill, it takes more than 4 hours. We walk through a beautiful tropical forest. Once on top of the mountain we have a beautiful view and we can already see our mountain village in the distance. We then walk downhill for about an hour before we arrive at our host's house (Mr Robin Hood). After crossing a wooden bridge, we arrive in the village and keep our eyes peeled. All the houses are built on stilts to protect against flooding in the rainy season but also to prevent unwanted animals from coming up. The space under the house is often used as storage/as a workshop and/or as an animal enclosure. There is no running water in the village. Rainwater is collected and the water from the adjacent river is also used. You can rinse off in the river, which is wonderfully refreshing after the long walk.
Mr Robin Hood lives with his wife and daughter next to the house where our group is staying. Every day he goes hunting in the forest with a bow and arrow (of course). They also earn additional money from tourism. The daughter of Robin Hood sells bracelets and cans of drink to us. Other villagers work on the nearby rice fields. There are no cars, only mopeds being driven through the forest. The children go to school in another village. After a delicious meal of rice, vegetables and chicken, everyone goes to bed rather early. This is the same in the village where everyone goes to bed after dinner (between 19 and 1930). The next day we walk to the river in little over an hour and we sail for 2.5 hours on a bamboo raft. Along the way, we see water buffalo, elephant and beautiful butterflies.
Time stands still during these two days and you are in the midst of the beautiful nature of Northern Thailand. An experience not to be missed and thoroughly recommended ... very special! "