Travel | Akha

Canon 50D, 168 mm, f/5.0 @ 1/1250, ISO 200

Akha believe in ghosts. Passing through the village we saw a built from sticks and beads, which was the “gateway for the spirits”. A good practice is to stop for a moment in each of the villages and say hello, so as not to be suspected of being an evil spirit, which will bring misfortune to the village.

Muang Sing, proved to be a tiny village 7km from the border with China and close to the border with Burma. There were not too many tourists, and if you’ve got someone out there, it was only for one purpose: go the next day for a trek through the surrounding forests and villages of ethnic minorities. We have done the same. The trail went through the area inhabited by people of Akha tribe. Here are some images that stuck in our memory:

  • We marched through dry rice fields, hills covered with rubber trees, villages and fields of sugar cane. Adults Akha people worked from dawn till dusk in the fields, while the old men and children remained in the villages.
  • Most of the Akha people (especially women) had a characteristic red slime dripping lips. It was an effect of chewing a mixture of plants and the bark of trees, apparently having a beneficial effect on teeth.
  • We often was older women who smoke tobacco (or other “herb”) using long bamboo tubes.
  • During the march we passed a few kids smeared on the neck in mud. They were carying a bag full of little fish. A few steps further on we saw a big puddle of mud, where both children and adults (literally dozens of people) were digging out the fish from mud.
  • Just as in other places in Laos, also here taking bath is a public matter. Whole families come in at only one tap in the village center. Women should be completely covered with the garment called sarong, but in many cases women are restricted solely to cover her hips.

At night we stopped in the village Houayla. The hosts have prepared for us a huge dinner! We could try the local dress, and sat by candlelight in the evening we drank the lao lao (rice whiskey) and sang. At the end we got the blessing from the elders. The chief and the hosts tied to our wrists symbolic threads.





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