As mentioned in our previous post we signed up for a half day tribal village trek/visit in the afternoon from the Hilltribe Museum.
With 40 minutes before the tour started we scrambled for some lunch and as 1.30pm rolled around the clock we were ushered into a vintage Station-wagon and on our way to our first tribe, the Karen Tribe. (Yes Hammy had a tribe named after her!)
As we drove through the village we saw signs for an Elephant Camp. We had read in the museum that the Karen tribe were the main users of Elephants so this fit in with our expectations. What we didn’t expect was to be simply put on an Elephant for a half hour trot through town – this was meant to be an authentic tour not a Tourist Trap.
As we debated our dissatisfaction with the guide it appeared that this was always part if the tour (it wasn’t in the brochure) and we could skip it if we wanted but there would be no discount, so reluctantly we just went with the flow!
In the end it wasn’t a bad experience and it was far easier to enjoy it while we could and moan later, like what we are doing now 🙂
I enjoyed the fact that there were 35 elephants milling about, normally you only see one or two, and that I got to feed about four of them at once! Karen enjoyed taking photos and was giddy when she spotted two monks on the back of another elephant.
Our next stop was an Akha village. This community are mainly farmers and are regarded as one of the poorest. Each village has two unique structures, the wooden swing that is used in a special ceremony after the harvest and the village gate that is rebuilt every year and is to protect the village from evil spirits.
The gateway must have been broken as it seemed to ward away all the villagers as well as the village was deserted like in one if those Western movies.
The next Village stop was a Mien (Yao) village. This tribe are known for their handicrafts and silversmiths. While not as deserted as the other village it was far from active.
At this point we decided to chance our arm and redeem our tour by substituting the last stop, the Waterfall with one of our own. We said we really really wanted to see the Black House.
She agreed and you can read all about it here.
It was a shame we couldn’t see any villagers in the proper traditional outfits but apparently they don’t really do that. The tour was disappointing but the saving grace was that at least the money (some of it) went to worthy HillTribe causes. If you visit this museum be sure and check what you are getting in the tour!