We were recently invited to Chiang Rai to celebrate the Rice Festival with a couple of the local hill-tribes and … WOW … what an incredible experience. We were only in the hills for a day but I’m still having difficulties gathering all of my thoughts. It was definitely one of those experiences that really puts life in perspective.
For anyone that may have the opportunity to experience a journey up the mountainside on a motorbike, it’s not for the faint of heart. We spent about 45 minutes to an hour on steep, unpaved roads that have been rutted and carved out by heavy rains. I made the mistake of not testing the brakes and suspension thoroughly on the motorbike prior to our journey and as you’ll see in the video, we had a minor spill coming down the following day.
Unless you were brought up on a farm it’s not too often that one gets to see pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, and even a Canadian Geese cohabiting in harmony, interacting, setting boundaries, even expressing affection with each other.
There’s no detachment from the food supply here. Several of the chickens and even one of the pigs that we saw foraging for food, just hours later provided several hearty meals during our stay and I gotta say that I had some of the best barbecued pork I’ve ever had. All of the vegetables were grown in the common areas of the village or surrounding hills and nothing went to waste. Anything we didn’t eat or use was quickly eaten by the dogs, cats, chickens and lastly the pigs. It was quite the experience to see the full circle of life. Here’s a little video of our food being prepared.
The only electrical power in the village was derived from small solar panels connected to each dwelling and the water was pumped from a local mountain spring. There was no door on the outhouse and for whatever reason the piglets seemed to enjoy interrupting whoever was currently taking care of business at the time. There were no beds, we slept on the floor but I have to say, bamboo is incredibly forgiving and my back felt better after a night on the floor than it has on any of the “therapeutic” beds I’ve slept on in the last 10 years.
Most people from the west might consider these living conditions rather primitive yet what they lacked in the way of possessions they made up for with creativity, ingenuity and a genuine sense of community.