This period is a trend of ecotourism or cultural and traditional tourism. People can really feel the real local people lifestyle. People are more interested about this tourism style because the trip gives us a life experience, knowledge and many beautiful things from the thing we neglect or never think about it before.
But travelling this way would be tough for someone who is not like to go adventure because we have to know leader of the community or people who can give us knowledge and tell us the stories to get into community like that. So that we would get most benefit and I think this is the big problem to travel like this which I have already faced a problem by myself because even though I like travelling like this but there is a limit and the I can't easily get the information. Therefore, I don't know how to start and who to contact with, don't even know where to sleep but in the end the problems run away when I have a chance to join the trip with Local Alike , this trip aim to experience Akha local people life style who live in Lo Yo village, Chiangrai. This trip is a trip that Local Alike arranges for me and friends, another 3 bloggers who try this travelling style. My friend and I also help give them an advice to difference points to make this program becomes perfect.
But before you see the detail of this trip, I would like to tell you about Local Alike in short detail first. If saying about them briefly, Local Alike is a tourism company that arrange a tour trip to experience a local lifestyle in many routes. Starting from Bangkok up to other province areas. During this period, they focus on the route in northern part, especially Chiangrai, Chiangmai, Luampang because this area have been supported from both public and private company that want to encourage and expand new style of tourism. I spend totally around 2 days 1 night for this trip.
This trip I start from getting on the plant from Don Muang airport around 8.00 am and take around 1 hour to reach Mae Fah Luang airport, Chinagrai and after picking up the stuffs and finish our business in the toilet. We then get on the plane to go on to Lo Yo village, Chiangrai immediately. Baan Lo Yo is located near Doi Mae Salong and Akha hill tribe village which has been settled down here for more than 80 years.
Travelling from Chiangrai airport to Lo Yo village take around 1 hour 15 minutes. The main route is going up hill and devious way but the route is well established.Two lanes of the road are paved well, just only last 400-500 meter before entering the village that is a laterite road, but anyway people who easily has a car sick should take a carsick medicine first.
After arrive at the village, we then go separately to the room to put the stuff. The name of the accomodation of today is "Akha Mudhouse Maesalong"
The accommodation is a mud house which the distinguish point is to help reduce the use of energy, not harm to environment and natural resources. The body of the mud house keep the temperature cool for the whole year even the temperature outside is hot but the temperature inside will not become that hot, or if the temperature outside is cold but we will not feel that cold inside. Because the house is qualified for insulation, so the temperature inside is always around 25-26 Celsius which is a temperature that we can comfortably stay inside. Moreover, the wall of the mud house can absorb humidity so the mud house can help adjust humidity inside the house. Many people say mud house is a living house because it can breath.
Now there are 8 rooms at Akha Mudhouse Maesalong. It is separated into 4 rooms which have a private bathroom inside and another 4 rooms which have no private bathroom. I personally choose a room with private bathroom which the size of the room is not that big. But, suitable for staying in. The room has 1 bed which can stay for 2 people, a small shelve, fan, ventilator and bathroom.
Inside the room there are a big blanket, towel and 2 bottles of waters provided. Inside the bathroom, there are soap, shampoo, shower cap and tissue provided also. You can bring only brush and toothbrush with you and stay over night.
The room of Akha Mudhouse Maesalong is decorated by using a waste material like waste bottle to decorate the wall which I think it is beautiful. The bathroom also uses a natural material for decoration, example bamboo, clay sink which looks simple but very beautiful.
I think the room size is big enough, can comfortably take a bath and there is a water heater and bidet spray and flush toilet too. I can say that I feel very impressed with the accommodation. It is simple, mix and match and look good.
In order not to make misunderstanding, I have to explain that actually the house that Akha hill tribe are living in is not a mud house but the house is mainly made from wood and cover with thatched. The mud house is built only for the commercial purpose and suit living in every season.
This picture is a public bathroom for people who stay in a room without a private bathroom. There are both a bathroom and toilet obviously separated and definitely a water heater is settled inside too.
After watching the room, there are some time left for my friend and I before having lunch. So I sit and drink tea and eat a fruit name Ma Lord. The tea is delicious which is served in a cool cup that is made from a bamboo. For Ma lord, the skin is a little bit rough, sour and very astringent. They suggest us to massage it before eating which I don't know the reason but I am really eager to know, so I search more information and find out an interesting point of Ma Lord as below:
Ma Lord is a northern fruit which blossom and bear fruit during November to February. When it bear fruits, its tree look beautifully with its red, orange, yellow, green ,mixed as a color of the fruit. It looks very appetizing but I am so pity that this fruit is not widely cultivated and no one seriously encourage to cultivate this fruit. So, presently it becomes continuously rear and only small quantity are selling in the market. It is distributed only in the market of the countryside.
Ma lord has 3 flavors, every flavor has an astringent taste, there are orange Ma lord; it is sour, its fruit is a clear orange. Sweet Ma Lord, its color is dark red which is hard to collect and last one is Kum Bor Ma Lord; it is not quit sour and sweet. Anyway before you eat it you have to massage or roll it first because it can help reduce the astringent taste and it also help separate it seed out easier. For the benefits of Ma Lord, people believe that there are many benefits, you can see the details below:
1. Nourish the heart (flower)
2.Completely nourishes the skin (leaf)
3.Help control element in body (fruit, flower)
4.Help solve eye disease (flower)
5.Help relieve nausea and vomiting (fruit)
6.Helps to relieve headaches (flower)
7.Helps to relieve fever (creeping plant)
8.Help expectorate (rind)
9. Boil and bath, relieve heart palpitate ( the whole tree)
10. Use as a mild laxative ( ripe fruit )
11. Helps to relieve twisting and constipation in children ( ripe fruit )
12.Bring to a boil drinking water to help cure gallstone (fruit inside the seed)
13.Treat Rhinitis (flower)
14.Use as an astringent ( raw fruit, flower)
15. Soak the alcohol drink that made from glutinous rice. Use to relieve pain in bones, headache or knee that have trouble walking. (root)
16.Be an ingredient for medicine ( flower)
After reading those qualifications, I am so pity that people there don't make a campaign to encourage people to grow and sell it in market more. So, if anyone has a chance, you should try it once.
After we drink tea and eat Ma lord for a while, then lunch is served. The food and ware look very good. Every food ware no matter a bow, spoon, chopsticks all are made from bamboo even the spoon is quite hard to scoop up the rice but I still like it because it is cool.
The foods are local food which looks yummy no matter an omelette herbs, Herbal pork loin, Stir Fried Gourd, yam boil with a herb or Akha chili sauce+ fresh vegetable. I can say that the food taste good and my friend and I all love it especially Omelette with fried gourd. Akha chili sauce is taste very spicy. People who like spicy food should love it too. Lastly, I feel like I fill up the rice so many times. We have no need to afraid that the food will not be enough because when it is depleted, Akha people will add it up immediately.
End of the enjoyable meal. Mr.Yohan, the owner of the Akha Mudhouse Maesalong and a new generation of the mountaineer who has knowledge and want to drive community-based tourism and disseminate cultures of akha tribe, has comes to discuss with my friend and I.
Along the long hour of discussing, I get many information, since the history of establishing the village around 80 years ago. To worship demon in the past where village shaman is there and they belief that if the family give a birth of twins , it is a bad luck. The village shaman then put the ashes stuffed in a baby mouth until the baby die and banish their parents away from the village for many years. That parents are not allow to use thing together with other people in the village, for example; they are banned to walk on the normal way, they have to walk on the separate way but after that around 40 years ago, the missionaries came to evangelism in the village and began to change their beliefs, change religious until now Akha people in the village are all believe in Christianity and there is a church in the village too.
After Mr.Yohan finish telling us a story about the village, they take my friend and I to play with the toys, 3 toys of Akha tribe which are hand spinner, wooden car, Kor Nor wood or what Thai people call mangrove, Tork Take wood. I have try all these 3 toys but what I can play is only a hand spinner. For a wooden car, I confess that I ride on it not so long then it stop because it is very hard to control its direction. I afraid that it will go over the curve of the road @_@
The most excited activity of my group is Kor Nor wood. It has 3 level of heights. The first picture is the height level 2 and 2nd and 3rd picture is a height level 3 which is very high. My friend and I give up at the first level, can't stabilize myself and can't even walk @_@
After I totally fail from playing Kor Nor wood and Mr.Yohan notices that I definitely can go on with this one so he takes my friend and I to survey Lo Yo gun village. This time we have a troublemaker child gangster joining the trip with us too. I can say that I learn and see many things while walking around 2 hours in the village. I learn about housing style, the decoration, way of planting, feeding pig naturally and the most important is I can see children are having their life the way they should be like running in the wide area, climbing the tree to pick up the fruits, like guava or various try of berries which some of the berry tree is located in other people area too but, nature character of people here is generosity, people live economically so that people always sharing what they have together.
While walking in the village, some area is selling a souvenir like accessories of Akha tribe. The price is not expensive but what I impressed is a souvenir stalls that located on the road side. When tourists are walking by the stall, they will come out and open the fabric and show their goods, when tourists go away, they conceal it by the fabric again. They say they do like this for a long time ago and nothing is missing because there is no robber in the village.
When we walk around the village, Mr.Yohan tells us to prepare our self because he will take us to see the place that people usually go playing with water. Who wants to play then change the cloth. Me myself hasn't prepared for it so I have no cloth to change so I spend this period survey the store that located near Akha Mudhouse Mae Salong instead.
There are a lot of souvenirs, accessories of akha tribe in the store. Bottle of water, sweet, ice-cream selling there too. The price of bottle of water, sweet will be added a little bit from the normal price. For accessories, Mr.Yohan's mother and his sister do and sell it by themselves. Who like it, please buy and contribute them.
After everyone is ready, my gang and I then get on to Mr.Yohan's back car to go playing with water. If you can notice a white dusty dog in the picture, this dog name Rambo. He belongs to Mr.Yohan. He is very smart and cute, likes to go out with tourist in which he can be a tour guide, be a good fellow traveler of our group because he will always take care in front and back of you , running and no matter how far you go, he will go with you without exhausted.
Like when we go to play with water, at first I think that the distance is not so far because I see Rambo running follow the car until we are going to the main road, driving down the mountain for 4-5 kilometer but I can still see Rambo keep running without stop until he is running out of my sight but when the car stop at the point where we are going to play the water for a while, then I see him appears in front of us with a cheerful feeling and hanging a long tongue outside of his mouth....he is a dog that make me love and really impressed.
This is the point we play water is a natural canal which in the beginning of the year like this, the water level is not very high which make children come here after school. They like to play in the water but when the rainy season comes, the water level is high and it is not safe to play with water.
I spend time here around half a hour. I see only an impressed image, the cheerful image of children, as natural as they age. I can hear the sound of laugh, enjoyable playing in water and even me myself don't join then, but I think I am fulled of happiness with this moment.
After we see a children playing water for a while, we then go back to the village. This time Rambo gets on the car together with us. When I look at the watch, I see that there is much time left before dinner. So I get off the car before reaching the village around 300-400 maters so that I can take a picture and experience a fresh air and pure nature like this. Definitely Rambo may afraid that I will feel lonely or I will lost the way or maybe he doesn't want to go home yet. He jumps off the car with me and always beside me all the time...........I can say that he is really cute.
and this is Rambo, a fighting dog which has only one ear. My friend in this trip say he is a matured dog because he takes it with a grain of salt all the time @_@
After I experience the nature around half hour, I then go back to the village and find that right now that inside the mud house is cooking dinner for us but this meal is special because they give us a chance to help them cook. The main menu is similar to what we eat in lunch and apart from letting us cook, they also let us dress Akha tribe costume too. One of my friend in the group has dressed up fully. For me I also want to dress like that but when I go to ask them about a male costume, they say there is nothing much, just a cap and 1 cloth. So I feel a little bit sad, envy female costume that they dress up with a full set of costume T___T
And this is our dinner that my friend has a chance to help them cook. Definitely We can eat it and it is delicious too.
Oh... today I have try a special menu like Arabica liqueur. Who go there and can drink alcohol, I recommend you to try it once. The taste is really unique and you can't find it anywhere else.
After we feel full with a meal, chatting for a while and I notice that it is around 9:00 pm. so we separate to do our personal business and make our self ready to wake up to see the sun rises in front of the accommodation around 6.30 am. And definitely after I take a bath, I then fall a sleep comfortably and wake up at 6.15 am. as I set my alarm clock and this is the picture view of the sun rises in front of my room. Even I can't see the whole sun but it is very beautiful and worth waking up to see it.
After seeing the sun rises up, Mr.Yohan tells us to change the cloth to be more dexterous. They will lead us to walk in the forest around the village. It takes around 1 hour. The route is starting from a mud house that Mr.Yohan intends to build it as a historical museum and telling the history of Akha tribe. In this picture, it indicates the way to find Rod Duan ( Bamboo Caterpillars) and the way to rice milling, pound the rice of Akha tribe.
Our group start departure from the village and walk along the brae. Throughout the route, there are beautiful natural scenery and plants which I never saw it before. Of course Rambo might not miss this trip to go with us.
The time pass for almost hour and a half for us to reach the village. It is a circle route and don't have to walk back on the same way. The most beautiful season of this route should be a rainy and cold weather which a trees on the both side look more verdant than this time.
When we arrive at the accommodation, then breakfast is ready for us. It is a delicious gruel with a Omelette herbs. I fill up the bowl many times as usual as I do in the previous meal..
And this is how Rambo be after go out with us in the morning.
After the meal, Mr.Yohan asks his mom and sister to teach how to do accessories of Akha tribe. What we going to do is a bracelet which is an important materials are
There are many styles and patterns in the bracelet. We follow their pattern which we are so smart to finish 1 piece/person but Mr.Yohan's mom and sister can finish comfortably 2 pieces each and the most expert in embroidery like me have to give up in the first pace and just take a pictures of them instead which it make me distinct the Akha tribe dress and find out that the dress looks very interesting. Especially, when it use 1 Baht coin in the past to be a part of their dress accessory.
And this is the last activity that we are going to do at Lor Yo village but mission of our trip with Local Alike does not end yet because we have to go experience another side of Chiangrai so, after we go out of Lor Yo village, the first aim we go is " PHING PHING PHOCHANA", a Chinese Yunnan restaurant on Doi Mae Salong because there is an ancient word say 'an army marches on its stomach', we are going to visit many places so our stomach has to be fulled first ><
Here are the food we order
Spicy fresh tea leaves
Nam Kang pork
Mushroom steam with soy sauce
We sit and wait not so long until all foods are served. Man tou has many colors, many flavors. Pork leg dish comes with a very big leg and a lot of meat that we have to order more Man Tou. For me I have to say that this is another meal that I like and if you have chance to come around this place, you have to visit it but I have to say that Nam Kang pork is a little hard. A spicy fresh tea leaves is very spicy, I think they put around half kilo of the chilly in it @_@
While having a meal, we ask Mr.Yohan about the distinctive traveling place which he suggests Tuan cemetery, Chuifong Tea plantation, 101 tea plantation and Wat Pratard Santi Khiri. After we consult each other, we decide to visit 101 tea plantation to see a hot sunshine, shining right away at our head like this. See! how beautiful the plantation is @_@
We get on a car from Phing Phing restaurant which is not so long to reach 101 tea plantation. We can walk and take a picture as we want but not allow to pick a tea or damage the crop, that's all. Those who don't want to walk in a sunny day, you can have a tea, they provide a tea for you to try and sell many things.
From the 101 tea plantation, we are heading to Doi Din Daeng which is a manufacturing and distribution of Ceramic work of Ajarn Somluck Pantibun, Chiangrai ceramic artist. He has created a sculpture to become a work of arts. This Baan Doi Din Dang begins with this Ajarn, he graduates from Technology and vocational education college, Payap campus and go to continue his study in Ceramic field with Ajarn Twao Onuma and Twao Onuma for around 5 years. After that return to settle in Chiang Rai to follow his dream and produce ceramic that he loves.
Atmosphere in Doi Din Daeng is peaceful, shady. There is a building for selling the products and create the work in different parts, for example; soil preparation, forming, oven and coffee shop which many of the building have bring ceramic to decorate too.
To visit Baan Doi Din Daeng in this time, we have Mr.Don, student of Mr.Somluck, guiding us to visit there so that we get insight information from him a lot, for example;
- To form up the ceramic work here, only hands is use which make the work become unique and can't copy easily because the finger print will be on the work too.
- Difference kind of soil has different color and mineral.The soil that Baan Doi Din Daeng uses come from 3 sources which are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Lumpang to get most satisfy color and qualification.
- All color use in the working come from natural color, none chemical color use such as yellow color comes from a dry leaf, blue comes from bamboo tree.
- Some of the art work take a long time to finish. Let the work dry, burn, paint, multi-stage coating and some work can only make 1 time/year such as a large jar which use take up 4 years to complete it because if it can not be done during an appropriate season, its strength and beauty will not be beautiful as we want.
Since it is all handmade work, and there is a difficult in processes so its price is a little bit high, for example; the price of normal jar would be at 1,000 - 2,000 Baht/ piece, but a big jar that spend around 4 years would be around 80,000 Baht/ piece which its depend on personal affection and since ceramic work is a handmade work that is very charming and it is difficult to imitate.
After visit Baan Doi Dindaeng around 16.00 pm, Local Alike and me is heading to a heaven on earth , farm and home stay, please don't ask me about the route. I know only I sleep for almost a hour and wake up again at the entrance and have to get ready to get off the car @_@
My nose can smell a nice smell of a Pandan after getting off the car right away and I can see a 2-3 cute buildings with a small garden. One of the building is the place where the coffee and tea are sold.
First, let us understand what heaven on earth, farm and home-stay is? Heaven on earth home-stay is a house that a man name Tor which he originally a Chiangrai people but after that his family move to Bangkok until he graduates and works as a photographer, then his father gets sick of Venous stroke so his body numb, cannot walk. Mr.Tor and his mother decide to take his father to go back in time to the place he was born and start to learn about how to make coffee, tea and after that start planting a different plants to extract it as a natural tea like Chrysanthemum, Butterfly Pea, Roselle, Lemongrass, Bael and start expand some area to build a home-stay. Presently, there are only 4 rooms which is a small, compact room and there is an earthenware, ceramic that Mr.Tor like to create it as his hobby put in front of the room too.
and this area has a good atmosphere, located near source of natural environment and since Mr.To give his important and care to seriously plant a tree, plant vegetable and plant the herb so it make he knows that which is the best things that cure his father and it obviously takes not so long time to treat his father to get better, start to walk, talk normally and presently every morning his father will often come to help Mr.To to pick up Butterfly Pea and various vegetables.
While I have a chance to listen to Mr.To telling his story about why he returns to his home and chooses to live his life in a new way and the miracle of herb that help cure his father sickness, I have try so many delicious foods, starting from a whole wheat bread, Butterfly Pea tea, Chrysanthemum to a special beverage like Butterfly Pea tea latte which the last glass has the most good smell, sweet, smooth, everyone who go on that day all say the same that it is very delicious. For me I feel like desire to buy the receipt and open a shop in Bangkok because it is really delicious. So whoever visit the place has to try it!
For not to confuse about the tea, the tea here is an infusion tea which is a natural herb which is extracted in powder and pack in bag but none of the tea is mashed in it. Who has a chance to visit and taste it, if you like you can buy it back home and brew at home too.
After my friend and I discuss on many topics with Mr.To, then around 18.00 pm it is time for us to go back to Bangkok. Our group go together to eat Chiangrai local food as a farewell. After that we go to Mae Fah Luang airport around 22.00 pm and arrive Bangkok around 23.00 pm. I can say that along 2 days 1 night is a very tough moment and make our fellow feel so exhausted , but do you believe that even my friend and I feel so exhausted but we can experience by eyes, words saying that staying over 2 days 1 night here and traveling with Local Alike to feel Akha local people tribe and many other sides of Chiangrai is a thing that really impress me and we hope to come back to travel like this again in the near future.
Thank you everyone for reading the whole story and if you want to talk or ask more question, you can talk with me at www.facebook.com/amazingcouples .
See you again in my next review, Sawandee Krub.