Hill Tribes, Chiang Rai
Our last stop on our Chiang Rai adventure found us at a small village inhabited by three separate minority hill tribes - the Akha, the Mien, and the Karen. The village is definitely a tourist attraction with several shops selling hand made items from the three different tribes. And like Myanmar, you can pay to see the Kayan (part of the Karen tribe) with the long necks. The popularity of the village has stemmed from its easy access. Our tour guide informed us that it is the largest village of hill tribe people that can be accessed by road. Most other villages can only be found by trekking through the country side. Though we again felt a tinge of cultural exploitation, it was nice to see everyone patronizing the craftsmen and women of the village. It's great since the money goes directly to them rather than a third, middle man party as it did in Myanmar. The villagers were extremely friendly and didn't mind telling you what and how they were making their goods. One woman from the Akha tribe we spoke with was busy embroidering a table runner. Her work was intercat and beautiful. She informed us that a runner or a scarf can take up to a week to complete whereas something larger and more detailed like some of her blankets she made can take up to five months to complete. And though the village may have only been there for tourist purposes, we did get a feel for how the tribes actually live in remote places.