After a really good breakfast of wonderful toasted French baguettes, omelettes and coffee, we walked to Nam Ha Ecotourism Office to look at the local trekking maps, posters… and get information from their guides. It would be an opportunity to learn about village lifestyles, silk weaving and the distilling of Lao Lao (rice whiskey).
Our trek would lead through rice paddies, fields and forested foothills, visit three minority villages, have lunch in one and return back to Luang Namtha at the end of the day. Once the day warmed up, it would be hot and Sue recommended lots of sunscreen, carry water, wear a hat, and bring Tevas, flip-flops or sandals along for the river crossings.
Day trek map
Into some tuk-tuks for a 15-minute ride to the trail head where we visited a local school to drop off supplies. … At the school, three university students asked to walk with us to practice their English skills. The walk started along the rice terraces through the paddies. Several of our group managing to slip off the terraces and fall into the paddies (not a big drop – just embarrassing) — it’s usually uncoordinated me who does something like that, but not today…
On the rice terraces
Village #1 was populated by the Hmong (also called Yao) ethnic group. Their original homeland was Southern China and there are a number of big Hmong communities who settled in Minnesota as well as other countries around the world. This village was very poor and had some unique marriage rituals (more about that later). Our Hmong guide was 18 and his wife 12 when they were married, and a Hmong man can have up to five wives.
Our Hmong guide in the cente
Through the fields
I haven’t a clue what these big oniony-looking shoots were
Crossed on rocks over a little stream with Sue extending a helping hand to those without any balancing ability…
…and arrived at Village #2 (Pieng Ngam), more prosperous, with 395 Thai Daeng people living there… The women raise silk worms and weave the silk into scarves to sell. It is a woman’s cooperative and everyone shares the profits. Silk worms had just hatched (very unusual to actually be there on the day they hatch) and the group helped enrich this village by doing some power-shopping. (The most expensive scarf may have been $8.00.)
Newly hatched silk worms
Weaving in Pieng Ngam
Which scarf to choose? Lynn and Caroline debating…
Source: From Travelwithshelia.com